Will An Actual Vaccination Conspiracy In Australia Backfire Internationally?

Politicians who don’t buy into the conspiracy, face attacks and denials.

Secret Covid-19 Future: The Truth From a politician?

It seems in Australia we have a genuine conspiracy to deceive the public. This is a conspiracy in two steps, with many conspirators only committed to the more benign step one, but likely being drawn into the more worrying step2.

  • The Two Step Conspiracy: The People Don’t Know What’s Best.
  • The Big Secret Underlying the Conspiracy.
  • Fact Check: Zero-Covid-19 and Immunity Level Comparisons.
    • Zero-Covid-19 or “covid-zero”.
    • Immunity Level Comparisons Fact Check: Australia, NZ, US, UK.
  • Reality of the Choice for Australasia: Rocks and Hard Places.
    • Option 1: Use Reduce Transmissions to Improve “zero-covid-19” strategy.
    • Option 2: Use reduced hospitalisation as a result of vaccinations to then “live with Covid-19”.
    • Confirmation Bias And The Flood of Information.
  • A Conspiracy, really? Who are the conspirators and why?
  • International Consequences and A Breakup of Australia?
  • Conclusion.

The Two Step Conspiracy: The People Don’t Know What’s Best.

Step 1: The Santa Claus Vaccination Plan.

Most parents let their children believe the white lie: “If you are good, Santa will bring you presents”.

The Santa story, using a little bribery since children are too young to understand that being good is its own reward. As parents, we seem to feel this is harmless and, the end justifies the means.

The same principle is applied with the public and vaccinations. Internationally, there have been various attempts to provide a reward for being vaccinated, as insufficient members of the public seem to understand that being vaccinated is also its own reward.

So, some governments in Australasia, particularly Australian national government, push a post vaccination “paradise only better” mythical world awaits vaccinated people, as a way to motivate people who don’t understand vaccination is its own reward.

This is an even easier sell in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne where previous zero-covid-19 now “paradise lost”.

Those who do not like deceit in general, don’t look too closely are the reality of the promise, as there is no real question about the benefits of vaccination, so even if the promise is questionable, surely the end justifies the means.

Given the motive at this step is all about getting people vaccinated, it is not difficult to get health care professionals on board. There is a desperate need to overcome provide some of the public with a vision of a rosy future, and these are not always the most reasonable people.

A vaccination centre at the Melbourne Town Hall would be shut until Monday after several of its staff were physically and verbally abused on their way to work, operator cohealth said on Thursday.

There have been several days of anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne: September 2021.

In fact, it becomes understandable for politicians to start to treat some of the public like children. But even if it is understandable, is it acceptable? It is valid to suggest “Santa Claus is coming” in the form of a post vaccine paradise, even after they have realised reality looks different.

There may be a degree of white lie, but some can excuse themselves as they are not spreading the lie, just not revealing the truth of what will happen after vaccinations.

Step 2: Government knows what’s right for public, so ‘railroading’ is justified.

Step 1, using a false promise to encourage people to people vaccinated is arguably relatively harmless, but it is step 2, the railroading of the public into the governments chosen path following vaccination, could potentially cost thousands of lives.

When vaccinations began back in March 2021, the original plan was that once vaccination levels achieved herd immunity, border restrictions to prevent spread of covid-19 could be safely removed. It has since become clear that target levels of vaccination will not achieve herd immunity, but the government plans to open anyway, despite the almost certain consequence of a Covid-19 death toll and hospitalisation rate far higher than seen in Australia or New Zealand previously during the pandemic.

The Australian government may feel the cost in potential lives lost is justified by trade and economic benefits of open borders, but does that excuse hiding the implications of opening from the public?

There are two potential options for dealing with Covid-19 delta strain in a vaccinated world:

  1. Use reduced transmission through vaccinations to improve zero-covid-19 of ‘past paradise’, and continue to work towards a goal of “herd immunity“.
  2. Use reduced hospitalisation as a result of vaccinations to “live with Covid-19” even without herd immunity.

This second step of the conspiracy is for the government to keep secret that vaccination targets no long provide herd immunity, and open anyway without allowing and debate as to whether this is what the public wants. The government choice may turn out best, but if so, why block debate in a democracy?

Originally it was thought when sufficient people were vaccinated, there would be herd immunity. Herd immunity with herd immunity cases would fall even after opening borders, giving the benefits of both choices. Now it is not yet proven that herd immunity is even possible.

The government wants to prevent any public debate on which option to choose.

The Australian government attitude is that, just as there people who do not know what is good for them and do not want to be be vaccinated, there are also people who don’t want borders open if too many deaths will follow, and they don’t know what is good for them either.

Step 2 is to keep it hidden that targets do not represent herd immunity and there will likely be many deaths per day following opening, allowing government to choose the next step without “messy” consultation or any need to ensure public support.

The Secret Behind Stage2: Paradise Lost With Delta.

Past Paradise: The Relatively Normal Life During Covid-19.

To understand why the reality how life after vaccine targets as planned by the government has to be kept secret, requires understanding how different live in Australia and New Zealand has been up to July 2021.

It has been no secret that, for most of pandemic up until July 2021, New Zealand and Australia were the places to be. Most of the time there were few restrictions New Zealand and the states of Australia, with the exception for some of the time of the state of Victoria and particularly the city of Melbourne. Every day life was quite normal, although restaurants and other venues did technically require 3d barcodes to be scanned, or least have people go through the motions of scanning, in order to record their visit, life was almost the same as pre pandemic. Except for one big restriction: international arrivals were limited and had to endure quarantine. In reality, apart from the quarantine, life was quite normal. No face masks or limitations to gatherings, even when attending full capacity sporting, or other stadium events.

Natalie Portman, Living Free of Covid-19 in Australia: December 2020.

Apart from a few rare outbreaks, no one was getting ill or dying, as there was simply zero-covid-19. Outside of Melbourne, Australia had less than 100 deaths from locally acquired infections, and New Zealand less than 20. Life was for most people, for most of the pandemic, unchanged except for those pesky travel/border restrictions, which was why so many celebrities were sitting out Covid-19 down under.

However, the national government was always strong opposed to the travel/border restrictions. They disrupted tourism and international trade, and the national government in Australia never felt it was worth disrupting trade to achieve zero-covid-19. Even the New Zealand government was running out of patience for tourism and trade. Vaccines have always been seen as the way to border and travel restrictions, so life could fully return to normal.

“Paradise” came at a cost: border/travel restrictions. Not even an option for most countries, but delivering a paradise for both Australia and New Zealand.

The Big Secret: From Paradise, To A Future Being Similar to the US or UK.

But now we get to the big secret: Instead of a return to life up to July 2021 in Australia, lifting border restrictions in Australia after reaching vaccination targets will most likely deliver a future similar to that in countries with similar vaccination levels who never had the same border restrictions. Like life in countries such the allies of the AUKUS alliance, the UK and US.

With Australia heading for similar levels of immunity to the UK and US, and planning to move to a similar policy border policy in respect of Covid-19, it should be not surprise that the result may be similar. But Australians are just not ready for that result.

The Big Secret: The Reveal, Denials, Attacks and Outrage.

The Reveal.

The big reveal is reported on here: “Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Doherty modelling predicted 80 deaths a day and 2,240 a month after six months. Is that correct?“.

There was outrage at suggesting Australia could see 80 deaths a day following the lifting of border restrictions, even thought, the projection is consistent with outcomes in other countries that do not have border restrictions. Consider daily deaths in the UK and the US:

Both countries have a larger population than Australia, so the figures need to be adjusted to deaths per 100,000 and applied to Australia’s population, results in these numbers for Australia:

  • 55 deaths per day based on the UK where immunity is higher than Australian targets.
  • 155 deaths per day based on the US with immunity as levels similar to Australian targets.

Denials

The 80 deaths per day suggested by Anastasia Palaszczuk, the leader of government in the state of Queensland, is certainly consistent with the numbers from the US and UK, as fact checked below. Yet Anastasia Palaszczuk was attacked and highly questionably fact checked as being “misleading” by Australia’s national broadcaster.

The claim of misleading was based on:

  • The figure of 80 deaths per day not being the only future included in the modelling.
  • Data in the modelling suggestion 80 deaths per day would no continue as lockdowns (even though not considered at a such a time in national government strategies) would likely be introduced.

Technically the quote is misleading as it draws not only on the modelling, but also on Australian government stated policy. Perhaps the quick quote should have been something like “if you used the data from modelling and assume current policy will be applied…”?

Yet, even the denial did not dispute that the main substance of the statement was in fact correct. The projections do show deaths of this magnitude, and in reality, looking the data, it does not seem logical to expect a different outcome.

To me this qualifies as a denial, and it seems the denial attracted more coverage than the original statement, which is why I have quoted a link to the “fact check”, and no link to the original reveal. In fact I found more then 5 sites reporting this denial, and none reporting the original reveal in any context other than in order to report the denial.

The Attacks and Outrage.

Annastasia Palaszczuk is questioning if and when borders should be reopened, given the death toll that will likely result. The problem is, given the strength of distain by the national government for any restriction on borders, even suggesting a discussion on how to proceed triggers the “pr” machine in response.

All the attacks and outrage incorrectly state Palaszczuk has declared she will not open borders, when in reality her words were a call for serious discussions:

“If New South Wales is the model of what lies in store for all of us, then we need to be having some serious discussions.”

VNExplorer

The premier said she will ignore the national cabinet’s plan to open borders at 80 per cent vaccination rates, saying it will send QLD ‘backwards’, ruining Christmas plans for thousands of people separated from their families.
On Thursday she said the national plan had ‘not been finalised’ and that she would keep borders shut to New South Wales despite soaring vaccinations.

Annastacia Palazczuk ruins holiday plans for millions: News Nation USA

It seems that to even question when borders should open is a plan to ruin Christmas!

‘A bad decision’: Palaszczuk border rules will cost Queenslander jobs

Eminetra

Again, just questioning with the border should open will cost jobs.

These are just sample I found on a quick search. I feel the important point is that just questioning when borders should be opened is what has resulted in the attacks.

Fact Check: Zero-Covid-19 and Immunity Level Comparisons.

Zero-Covid-19 or “Covid-zero”.

Australia always had a policy of “suppression”, not elimination. So what is covid-zero or “Zero-Covid-19”?

New Zealand, and the individual states of Australia all followed a policy of “zero community spread”, which has been also been reffered to as “covid-zero” and other variations.

They all mean a policy of using whatever means are required to end chains of transmission of the virus. There are three main ingredients:

  1. Border control with quarantine.
  2. Track and trace.
  3. Lockdowns in response to significant outbreaks.

Border control with quarantine. The first principle is to prevent people who arrive infected with the virus from infecting others during the time they are infectious. If no one introduces the virus, then there will be no “local transmission” of the virus. That is, the only cases will be those who arrive infected, having been infected before being “local”. Statistics of locations such as New Zealand still show cases being confirmed, even during long months of “covid-zero”, because people infected before arriving in New Zealand may only be confirmed as infected while in quarantine after then arrived. These people are not cases of “local infection”, but still count as cases within New Zealand.

Track and Trace. Border control with quarantine is not perfect, and cases still do get through quarantine, resulting in one or more “local infections”. When this does happen, the people who became infected, may have infected any number of people they have been in contact with. “Track and trace” is the process of trying to identify all people each infected person may have been in contact with, then test these people to identify any further infections. A complication is that most often the original case “escaping” quarantine will have been asymptomatic, and unknowingly infected several other people, and some of those may have been asymptomatic, resulting a many cases before an outbreak is even detected.

Lockdowns. When it becomes clear that there are, or will soon be, too many cases for track and trace, a lockdown is introduced to try to prevent or minimise spread while track and trace is used to isolate infected people. Prior to delta, even 20 cases was not necessarily sufficient for even a local area lockdown, but with delta, even the entire nation of New Zealand needed to lockdown with a single case was detected. This sounds, and is, extreme, but for almost 18 months this policy allowed New Zealanders to dine, socialise and attend sporting events unaffected by Covid-19.

Immunity Level Comparisons: Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA.

Immunity from Covid-19 generally results from either having previously been infected, or having been vaccinated. There is solid data on vaccinations, but on infections there is only confirmed cases, which depending on the testing regimes at the time and place will be somewhat lower than total infections.

Australia and New Zealand.

Both Australia and New Zealand have had negligible levels of infection so far, which on positive side means few deaths and hospitalisations so far, but the minus is that there is almost zero immunity from infection, which means there is no level of immunity beyond from vaccinations, so data from vaccination trackers is the level of immunity.

Levels of vaccination in Australia and New Zealand are quoted as a “percentage of the eligible population”, which is currently 16 and over in Australia, and 12 and over in New Zealand, which means numbers from the two countries cannot be directly compared. International data, as from vaccination trackers, is most often expressed as “percentage of the [full] population”, in order to allow direct comparison. Data reveals 18.7 percent of Australians were aged 0-14 in 2011, so assuming data is currently similar today and allowing for adding15 year-olds, gives around 20% of the population being under 16, so Australian vaccinations rates should be multiplied by 0.8 to arrive at rates for the entire population, while New Zealand number should be by 0.85. So opening levels for Australia at 70% and 80% represent 56% and 64% of the entire population.

UK.

As I found when exploring “Covid-19, Almost over?“, in early August 2021, researchers in the UK directly tested people was that 94% of adults in England had immunity to Covid-19. In the UK only those 16 and over are currently receiving vaccines, but the big difference in the UK is that a significant percentage of children would have already been exposed to the virus. Estimates so far suggest at least 90% of the total population would have some immunity.

USA.

I have not seen a study of immunity that allows projecting immunity levels nationally within the US. What we do know is that in the USA, 55% of the population are fully vaccinated as at September 21, 2021, which compares with 39.4% of Australians at this same date. Given significant number in the US who have been infected, the total immune level would I believe conservatively be at least 70%, which is almost double the current immunity in Australia.

Australian Situation: Lack of exposure in the past is a problem for the future.

The 70% and 80% immunity level for adults in Australia gives 56% and 64% population immunity, which even at higher of the two levels, is not only lower than the 90% estimated for the UK or even the 70% overall estimated for the US.

In fact, not matter what percentage of the Australian population 16 and over are vaccinated, it is not possible to reach immunity levels present in the UK. In reality, it will require a significant number of people being infected to ever match vaccination levels of the UK.

To achieve even current immunity levels present in the USA without a significant number of Australians gaining immunity through infection would require 87.5% of the Australian population being vaccinated.

Other factors may be different, but it will be difficult for Australia to even reach current USA immunity levels.

Reality of the Choice for Australasia: Rocks and Hard Places.

Australia and New Zealand have two real choices of next step:

  1. Use reduced transmission through vaccinations to improve zero-covid-19 of ‘past paradise’.
  2. Use reduced hospitalisation as a result of vaccinations to then “live with Covid-19”.

Both options are highly problematic and there is no easy solution.

Option 1: Use Reduce Transmissions to Improve “zero-covid-19” strategy.

There is no getting around that even in a fully vaccinated society, “zero-covid-19” still requires some form of “border protection” to prevent infectious people arriving and spreading the virus. The current system has failed in New Zealand and the Australian States/Territories of NSW, Victoria and ACT, and lead to lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus.

If all had remained the same, continuous streamlining improvements to border quarantine could have made life with zero-covid-19 better, but delta made it harder, while vaccinations should make it better.

It could be argued that if the relevant population(s) had been sufficiently vaccinated that spread would have been sufficiently suppressed that lockdowns may not have been needed, but how easy it is to solve the problem with the new elements of the delta variant and a vaccinated population is just unproven.

Australians in Sydney and Melbourne see people in the UK and USA now living what appears to be as free as people in Perth and Brisbane, and think “they have all the freedoms without any risk of outbreaks!”.

Option 2: Use reduced hospitalisation as a result of vaccinations to then “live with Covid-19”.

Many Australians are simply not ready for the levels of illness and death that accompanies those images where people in the USA and UK are living as just as free as people in Perth (Western Australia).

The illness and death are not seen, and to some, they don’t even matter. Protesters in Melbourne in particular, see their football grand final held in Perth Western Australia where there is no Covid-19 risk, while in the USA and UK the risk of Covid-19 does not seem to matter anyway. It seems there is no need to have borders and keep cases low, when life can look normal if Covid-19 is just simply almost ignored.

Again, it is a move into the unknown. Will the legacy of low cases and deaths in pandemic so far mean that lower levels of immunity will result in an even worse medical outcome in countries protected by vaccinations alone? There are those people who will care about the deaths. Or will it all just go away as Trump always predicted.

Confirmation Bias And The Flood of Information.

There is so much data on Covid-19, and much of it appears contradictory. In both providing and interpreting information, there is so much ambiguity. For example:

  • There is no universal agreement on what constitutes an ‘infection‘, or a ‘case‘.
  • Information of vaccination rates is presented as a percentage, but what it is a percentage of can vary make numbers look higher or lower.
  • Immunity from infections can be assumed to be at the rate of confirmed cases, or estimates of actual cases, which will normally be at least 2x greater, and up to 10x greater.
  • Data fluctuates so significantly making it “cherry pick” to support a variety of different conclusions.

For example, at the time of writing, both cases and deaths for both the USA and UK are higher than at the same date last year. This could be used to argue conditions have not improved, despite vaccinations. Alternatively, perhaps it is not time of year that is the deciding factor, but the phase of a ‘wave’ or ‘cycle’ and both countries it could be argued have far lower deaths and hospitalisations than at the same point in previous waves. There is data to support “things are worse than ever” and to support “things better than before”.

Given opinions are so polarised, there is a huge amount of confirmation bias happening when data is processed. Errors such as stating populations must have similar immunity levels on the basis of vaccinations alone and ignoring immunity from infections, is a typical example of distortions of reality that are rarely questioned.

A huge problem is that it is not just the public with ideas polarised through confirmation bias, it can also be the politicians making the decisions.

A Conspiracy, really? Who are the conspirators and why?

The essence of a conspiracy: A secret and hiding truth.

Just what is a conspiracy? There are many dictionary definitions, but there two common elements:

  1. There is a plot or plan with some motive for those involved in the conspiracy.
  2. The plot relies on keeping something secret that, if revealed, could the prevent the plan succeeding.

As you may have noticed, conspiracy theories have become rather common, and often with low credibility. Often it seems the “truth” claimed to be being hidden is not very credible, as with “flat earth” conspiracies, and other times it seems unlikely that the required number of people would all maintain secrecy if the secret was real, as with “twin towers” conspiracies that assume many many people participated in the consipriacy.

This conspiracy is all based on it remaining “secret” that opening border at the governments planned stage will likely result in deaths of perhaps 80 deaths per day, unless lockdowns continue following border openings.

At the core, this is a plot to ignore the science.

Conspiracy theories about Covid-19 are everywhere, but they are mostly where people who ignore science, or who believe the science is wrong, conspiring to protest and complain. Normally, the people in power are the ones following the science, although there have been some clear exceptions.

In the case of Australia, it is all about politicians with a history of ignoring science on other issues, doing it again. The Australian federal government has the history of choosing belief over science, and they have the same pattern with Covid-19.

Nationally, Australia’s policy with Covid-19 has always been “suppression”, based on the belief that the higher the level of cases, the easier it is to prevent more cases. While this may be true once a virus starts to run out of new people to infect, at more tolerable levels of virus in the community, growth is exponential. The very nature of exponential growth is, the bigger the number, the bigger the amount of growth. This means, in direct contradiction to opinions expressed by prime minister of Australia Scott Morrison, the more cases, the faster the growth and the harder the virus is to contain.

Fortunately it is the state politicians, who generally have a greater belief in science and act as a moderating influence who, as responsible for health, have run Covid-19 policy so far in Australia. Notably, state governments in Australia are also far more responsible with regard to climate policy.

But it is the goal of the core members of the conspiracy, the party lead by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to censure debate and “railroad” Australians into a path return to “zero-covid-19” is “too difficult”, leaving “living with covid-19” as the only option available.

As with climate change where it not clear whether this political part believes climate change is no threat, if simply believes it is beneficial politically to act as their is no threat, it is difficult to know if the party members believes deaths in Australia will never reach per capita levels of comparable countries.

The Alternative Narrative: Borders must be open, consequences are just reality.

The Australian government never wanted borders closed from the outset, declaring the economic cost would be too high, and that even if health outcomes were would be worse, it was always about balancing health and economic outcomes.

This new plan is simply a return to original narrative, this time eliminating the arguments of opponents that health outcomes would also be costly by keeping the health costs secret.

Faith and Confirmation Bias, How Followers Join The Conspiracy.

The conspiracy of “opening anyway” relies on the “secret” that herd immunity no longer will not be in place when the border are opened. That all data suggests opening will mean cases rising to levels common elsewhere but previously seen in Australia under wraps until opening has gone too far to be stopped.

The national government alone cannot stop others realising. It takes medical advisors, and state leaders and news media to also continue to promote “just get vaccinated and all will be OK”. It certainly does not need those pesky states questioning whether they should open up and allow infections to rise.

In reality this makes a fragile conspiracy as there are both those for and against:

  • Supporting the conspiracy so far:
    • The Australian Government
    • The Rupert Murdoch controlled press and “shock jocks”.
      • During covid-19 have supported “the virus is not even a real problem” side of any argument.
    • Some Medical professionals fearing vaccine hesitancy.
      • If opening is seen as a reward for vaccination, perhaps promising open borders is ok, and surely the government will not really open if it is not safe?
    • State Leaders In States where are current outbreaks that are not under control.
      • Opening borders may not make it worse if covid-19 has already spread.
  • The Breakaways: Who will “spill the beans”?
    • Epidemiologists
      • Data is becoming clearer and clearer on spread even when vaccinated.
    • State leaders from states without covid-19 cases when targets are reached.
      • Palaszczuk from the state of Queensland
      • Most likely McGowan from Western Australia, and perhaps others in Zero-Covid-19 states.
      • The New Zealand government?

There are signs of supporters joining the breakaways as targets for opening come closer and potential problems begin to look like realities. The NSW state leader has already started qualifying messages on opening. I expect “leaks” of the truth to start to emerge from others beyond Palaszczuk, and will update this section as any emerge.

International Consequences and A Breakup of Australia?

There is more to explain, but for a few months in 2020, all Australia had lockdowns and the national government supported the lockdowns by funding a scheme to protect jobs while employees were forced to remain at home.

Contrast responses to the delta outbreak in NSW, Victoria and New Zealand:

  • The responses in NSW and Victoria were ineffective as workers needed to continue to work as the national government would no longer offer “job keeper” since the national government never supported Zero-Covid-19.
  • The response in New Zealand was effective as the national government still supports Zero-Covid-19.

Now consider what will happen in future with Western Australia:

  • The Western Australian Government will be very reluctant to open borders unless it is genuinely safe.
  • The National Government will not support Western Australia with any future lockdowns, or other Covid-19 support unless borders are open.
  • This could lead to a battle between a very popular state government in Western Australia, believing it should have the right to funding its own policies as it is a significant part of the Australian economy.
    • Western Australia could “go it alone” and keep their borders closed in defiance of the national government.
    • Western Australia “going it alone” would be a significant threat to national stability if deaths rise to expected levels in the eastern states.
    • The ultimate threat would be for Western Australia suggest succession, and given such threats have been present for some time, this issue could potentially be the “final straw”.

to be continued.

Conclusion.

The reality is that no country has managed the ultimate goal of herd immunity. It initially looked possible in Israel, before delta took hold. It even looked possible in the USA before delta arrived.

Neither:

  • “zero-covid-19” while it requires quarantine
    • nor
  • “living with covid-19” while it will result in even close to “30 deaths per 10 million people per day”

Is an outcome any country wants to accept going forward. A problem with covid-19 is that we cannot conduct live experiments with populations, and the world needs to be able to use results from countries who are able to do things differently to learn the best path. Australia and New Zealand, perhaps due in part to their isolation have provided data on alternative paths that is of value to the world. If either or both simply give up and join the rest of the world would be sad. To do so even if it will result in unnecessary deaths would be tragic.

It is not yet clear which is strategy is correct for Australia or New Zealand at this time, but as it is important for the world that somewhere tries “zero-covid-19” if it is at all viable at this time, it is certainly important that neither country is railroaded into just opening borders regardless of the alternatives because of an ideological position the prevents even open debate..

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