COVID-19, some notes and thoughts from a layman

As I start on this page (2020/03/27) my wife and I are some of the last guests being allowed to stay at the Willow Springs homestead resort in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia for the foreseeable future (and who would be brave enough to claim to be able to foresee far into the future in this very uncertain time). The operators have told me they will not be receiving more guests after the end of the month.

My greatest concern is with climate change; COVID-19 is just a temporary blip in the developing much greater disaster. So I make comments in this page on matters relating to climate change impact. I have also written a page questioning why climate change, as a far greater disaster than the pandemic, is getting far less action.

Perhaps the best thing that could possibly come out of the pandemic is that it might remind those who need reminding that we humans are not above all animals, plants and other organisms, we are a part of the biosphere. Even the lowest of all organisms, if a virus can even be called an organism, can lay us low. The lesson we could learn is that we must stop just looking after ourselves, we must play our part and look after our environment and all those who share it with us.

Something that has been said in relation to COVID-19 is "none of us are safe until all of us are safe". Something similar is applicable to the environment "humanity is not safe until the biosphere is safe".

In addition to many other new regulations on things like 'social distancing' and 'self-imposed isolation' the Australian government, and the various state governments, are quite quickly tightening up the rules and advice on who can go where and under what circumstances at the time of writing.

We live in interesting times.

This page was started 2020/03/27, last edited 2022/02/02
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

This is a work
in progress

The Pandemic

Some of the main unanswerable questions about the pandemic at this time (late March 2020):


The disease is coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19 for short; I have shortened this even further on this page, to Covid. The official name for the virus that causes the disease is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2 for short.
  • How many of the world's people will contract the disease? There are 7.8 billion people in the world, it seems credible that a billion could catch the disease.
  • How many people will die? As of 2020/04/02 the world-wide death rate has been about 5%. 5% of a billion is 50 million.
  • There is a huge difference in death rates (2.9% in Germany, 13% in Italy); why should this be so? (On 2020/04/17 Worldometers reported that deaths made up 21% of all closed cases.)
  • How long will the pandemic last?
  • What will bring the pandemic to an end?
    • A drug? In late March 2020 at least two seem to be showing some promise.
    • A vaccine? In late March we were being told that a vaccine will be a year or 18 months away but by 2020/04/18 it was being said that a vaccine may be available by September (5 months). Update October 2021: Covid vaccination started in Australia in late February 2021. It started slowly because of federal government bungling. As of October 2021 most adult Australians had been doubly vaccinated, but no vaccine was available for children under 12 (who generally were highly resistant to Covid).
    • Heard immunity? That will not be achieved until 60-90% have either contracted the disease or been vaccinated.
    • Or some combination of those? I suspect that this is the most likely.
  • What will be the extent of the immunity developed by encountering the virus (or from vaccination)? How long lasting will immunity be? Will the virus prove to be similar to flu with mutated versions coming back each year in the future?
  • How much social and economic disruption will it cause?
  • What will the long-term effects on society be? Will society be significantly different following the pandemic to what it was before?

Comment 2020/04/10

It seems that in my country, Australia, the social distancing, limitations on mobility, laws against many people coming together, mandatory quarantining of those who have contracted the virus, or have been exposed to the virus, etcetera, have got the disease under control (6,152 official cases, 93 new cases on 2020/04/09; that is 242 cases per million, 3.6 new cases per million).

On the other hand, the pandemic is rife in the USA (425,769 official cases, 33,331 new cases on 2020/04/09; that is 1,286 cases per million, 101 new cases per million). Third world countries do not seem to have the ability to either control the spread of the disease or to test anywhere near all the people who might have contracted it; we just don't know what is happening there.

Update 2021/10/12

There was a major outbreak in Victoria in July and August 2020, and following the development of the Delta variant there were major outbreaks in Victoria and NSW in August 2021 that were still out of control at the time of writing. Queensland had minor outbreaks, the remainder of Australia stayed largely Covid free.

Speculation on long-term impacts

Disparity in wealth

At the present something like one percent of the world's richest people own as much as the poorest fifty percent of the world's people.

Many people are going to have great financial hardship due to the social and economic disruption from the pandemic. An extra Aus$5000 would be a significant boost to these people's welfare. It happens that Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart, could give $5000 to each of a million people and still be Australia's richest person.

National and state governments are greatly increasing their debt in order to support businesses that have had to close and individuals who are out of work. This will result in the rich getting richer (government borrowings come predominantly from the wealthy and must be paid back to the wealthy with interest) and increasing the already huge disparity of wealth in the world.

The wealth disparity has been increasing for many years. Natural justice dictates that it must be ended at some point. What will end it? Serious international action? Revolution of some sort? Will the pandemic and its after effects cause sufficient disruption, dissatisfaction and anger to force this change?

Impact on climate changing emissions?
Governments have been far too slow in taking action on minimising climate change. The curtailing of flying will substantially reduce greenhouse emissions from that source (at the time of writing Australian airlines had cut 90% or more of their scheduled flights and presumably other airlines were similarly impacted). The many slowdowns in industry and business arising from the pandemic will (surely?) also reduce emissions. On the other hand social distancing is causing fewer people to use public transport, possibly resulting in more use of private cars (although this may not happen because of greatly increased unemployment and more people working from home).

Will there be significant short-medium term changes in emissions due to the pandemic? Will long-term changes to society following the pandemic change the rate of greenhouse gas emissions?

I have written a comparison between our reaction to climate change and to Covid-19 on another page. Climate change is a far greater disaster than the pandemic, but is getting far less action.

Updated 2021/02/18

Evolution of the virus

The number of mutations to be expected will be in direct proportion to the number of viruses in the environment. By early 2021 we were seeing several new variants of the COVID-19 virus.

It is disadvantageous to any pathogen to kill its host; a virus particle in the dead host will probably be destroyed as the dead host rots, and a dead host is much less likely to pass on the genetic material of the virus than is a live host. So while there is evolutionary pressure for increased contagiousness (and by late 2020 a variant of the virus that is more contagious has evolved), there is an evolutionary pressure for a pathogen to become less virulent over time. Evolution favours organisms that are able to pass on their genes to the next generation.

Whether the evolutionary pressure to kill less dominates any other evolutionary pressures is another matter.

This section added

A balance of risks; an early vaccine or wait for a safer one?

World-wide at the time of writing there are about 6,000 reported Covid deaths each day, there are probably a great many more that are not being reported. Indications are that this rate is just as likely to increase as decrease in future. Five percent of the fourteen million people in cases with a recorded outcome have died. There are 7.8 billion people in the world, if half of these were to contract Covid, as might happen if a vaccine is not developed, we could expect from these figures 195 million deaths.

A Russian vaccine that is being used publicly in that country has just been announced. It has been widely stated by many that there would be substantial risks in using the Russian vaccine because it had not been tested to the cautious Western medicine standards.


It's not only the pandemic

There are also the economic and social impacts of the shutdowns. It's not 'just money', people have used up their savings that had been put aside for retirement, businesses are failing, unemployment rates are growing, homelessness is increasing, personal and state debts are increasing and are going to take decades to pay off, if they are ever paid off. Mental problems are increasing because of the isolation.

All this makes a quick vaccine cure more important, even if it comes with risks.


Risk side effects or not?

It has been pointed out that if a billion people are vaccinated and there are serious side effects in one in ten thousand, one hundred thousand of those people will be affected. Against this must be weighed the point that if the vaccination of these billion people is delayed and a tenth of them contract Covid, about 5% are likely to die; that is five million deaths. One hundred thousand people with serious side effects is a far better result than fifty times that many dead.

Suggestion put to politicians

On 2020/08/16 I emailed my suggestions on early vaccination with decisions left to informed individuals to federal and (SA) state health ministers and shadow ministers, with references to this page.
So we have a number of choices:

  • Do we wait a year in the hope a perfectly safe vaccine is available by then and accept the 6000 × 365 = 2 million+ deaths from the pandemic in the meantime?
  • Should we adopt the Russian vaccine, with its risks, as soon as it becomes available?
  • Do we take a middle course; wait another few months until a vaccine seems to be reasonably safe and accept it, even though it may not be absolutely safe; balance the risks from the early vaccine with the damage that the pandemic will undoubtedly cause if we wait too long?
  • Do we leave it to the individual to make their own decision? Vaccinate early with some risks, or wait until there is more certainty about safety?
Like so much in life, there is a balance. I have been surprised in how difficult people seem to find this concept to grasp in relation to Covid and a vaccine. I favour the last of the above choices.

We make decisions based on relative risks and values all the time:

  • Do I ride my bike into town? On one hand it will be good exercise, I will enjoy it and it will avoid the greenhouse gas emissions involved in driving; on the other hand it comes with slight risks, I might be hit by a car; I might fall off and hurt myself.
  • Should I cut down a particular dead tree for my firewood? How much risk is involved? Should I find a fallen limb that might be safer?
  • Should I invest in the stock market or leave my savings in the bank? The bank is pretty safe, but pays little interest; the stock market comes with greater risks.
  • For an old man like me there is a risk of prostate cancer. There are risks in being tested, having the cancer removed if present, and there are risks in doing nothing. I will not go into all the risks, read Prostate cancer testing: has the bubble burst?.
  • If a wind farm is proposed near my home and I don't like the look of wind turbines should I oppose the development or should I look at the bigger picture and accept that the wind farm will be good for the environment because it will displace polluting fossil fuel fired power generation? (I have no problem with this question, see Why I support the proposed local wind farm.)
There are few decisions in life that come without competing factors that need to be balanced. Little in life is either black or white.

What are the factors that we need to consider in making a decision about a vaccine?

  • It is looking like there will be a number of vaccines that will become available, choices will need to be made between them;
  • The efficacy may vary from one vaccine to another;
  • The level of safety may vary from one vaccine to another;
  • If a vaccine recommended by the authorities should prove to have serious side effects or provide little protection it would undermine public trust in Covid vaccines and vaccines in general;

Other pages on this subject

What are the risks of fast-tracking a Covid-19 vaccine?; by Katrina Megget, 2020/07/13.

A COVID-19 vaccine needs the public’s trust – and it’s risky to cut corners on clinical trials, as Russia is; The Conversation, 2020/08/12, by Abram L. Wagner Research Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, University of Michigan.

Notes: 2020/03/27, Willow Springs, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

My wife and I had planned a three-week holiday in northern NSW, but decided against going so far from home a few weeks back. That idea became unfeasible in any case when about a week ago the government of our state, South Australia, announced that people were not going to be permitted to cross the state borders without urgent cause. So we went to Willow Springs instead. I've written more on our visit to Willow Springs on another page on this site.



In Australia we have recently had drought, unprecedented fires, floods and now pandemic.

Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison speaks freely of his Pentacostal Christian religion. I would have to wonder if he believes that we are reaching the 'End of Days' with the 'select', including him, to be saved in the soon-coming Rapture?

Of course the drought, fires and floods are almost certainly linked to climate change which is exacerbated by the refusal to act on reducing emissions by governments such as the Morrison government.

The government was telling people to 'not go anywhere without need' as a way of slowing the spread of the virus, but it was quite plain that 'going anywhere' was not causing the spread of the virus, the problem was human-to-human contact. We reasoned that we could have a few days in the rather remote and sparsely populated Flinders Ranges with very little human-to-human contact.

At the present we only know of two of our friends who have contracted the virus. (More accurately, two of our friends in Wales who are recovering from a nasty infection that seems likely to be COVID-19; it hasn't been confirmed medically.) We have not heard of anybody in Crystal Brook or Clare, where we have properties, who have caught the virus.

There is no mobile phone or Internet availability in Willow Springs but there is satellite TV and weak radio reception, so we can keep up with Australian and world developments fairly well, but are not hearing much from family, friends or home.

In the parts of the Flinders that we have so far passed through we have seen quite a few euros and emus; more than one would expect considering the state of the vegetation, which varies from dying from lack of water to being in good condition, depending on location. (Some of the healthiest vegetation being on the major creeks.)

Bush flies
My wife and I have noticed more bush flies than usual this summer, and they are particularly plentiful in this part of the Flinders Ranges. The question came up of whether they, or any other insect, might be capable of transmitting COVID-19 from one person to another – I don't know the answer, and have not heard anything of the possibility.

Our recent past

My wife and I took part in a wind farm sleep study at Flinders University in Adelaide from 2020/03/10 to 18. We were test subjects in this study and it involved close person-to-person contact between some the the technologists and ourselves. I have been informed that the in-house part of the study is being postponed for the foreseeable future. (The phrase 'foreseeable future' seems to be one that I'll be using quite a bit in this page.)

Adelaide is a city of over a million people. It seems unlikely that we will be going back there for quite a long while.

Our immediate family

While my wife and I are retired, the welfare of our children (who are working) and grandchildren (who have been going to school) have less control over their contact with other people.

Our son and his wife and daughter live in Adelaide. I believe that, in their work, they need not have much close contact with other people.

Our daughter, her husband and their two daughters live in Mandurah, Western Australia. I think our son-in-law does not need to have much contact with other people in his work, but our daughter, being a veterinarian will have to. Of course this is a concern to all of us.

Bungala solar farm, completed
Photo taken by my Mavic Mini drone, 2020/03/26. Click on image to view full size, 'back' to return
We visited Bungala Solar Farm on our way north. It is, I believe, the biggest solar farm in Australia (275 MW?); we had previously seen it when it was under construction.

Flinders Ranges observations and comments

On this visit, late March 2020, in the early stages of the COVID pandemic's run in Australia, there were far fewer tourists to be seen than usual at the time of year; I've written more specifically on this in places below.

The region was terribly impacted by the drought and while this particular drought cannot be specifically blamed on climate change climatologists have been telling us for years that drought is made more likely by climate change. On this visit to the Flinders Ranges we saw many gum trees that would probably have been a hundred or more years old killed by the drought.

This visit to the Flinders Ranges prompted me to write a page devoted to photos, observations, notes and memories on our many visits.

Willow Springs, 2020/03/27, morning
Yesterday morning my wife and I took a long walk down the track that follows the creek to Reedy Spring. The area around Willow Springs station is suffering more from the drought than parts of the ranges further west because they missed most of the substantial rains (elsewhere) of the beginning of February.

Wilpena, 2020/03/27, late afternoon
Wilpena campground
At this time of year the campground would normally be crowded
In the late afternoon we drove to Wilpena hoping to refuel our car, do some messaging (we had no mobile phone coverage at Willow Springs), see what was happening on Facebook, and have a look around.

We expected the place to be quiet due to the pandemic, but were surprised by how quiet we found it. The store, and fuel bowsers, had closed at four rather than staying open until six, so we didn't refuel (we later saw someones who said that they would re-open on the following day).

The camping ground would normally be bustling with hundreds of campers at this time of year (I don't think 'hundreds' is an exaggeration), we saw about a half dozen caravans, some of which were probably kangaroo shooters (there was a big cool room).

We were told by one of the Wilpena staff that 'they would be shutting down' on 28th, although whether that applied to the camping ground, the cabin accommodation, the store or all was not clear. I would think that the store at least would have to remain open at some times for the permanent residents of the district.

Bunyeroo and Wilpena Pound
Above the Razorback Viewpoint, overlooking Bunyeroo Valley. A 'stitch' of two photos taken by my Mavic Mini drone, 2020/03/28.

Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges, 2020/03/28
After another trip into Wilpena to refuel we took the southern turnoff toward Bunyeroo Gorge.

We left Wilpena about 0930 and didn't see another car until about 1200. That was the only car that we saw on the Bunyeroo road. We saw another four in the afternoon, all in or very near Brachina Gorge; we didn't see a single vehicle in the 20 or so kilometres of sealed road from the Brachina turnoff to the Willow Springs turnoff which we reached about 1330. So apart from the cars we saw in Wilpena, we saw a total of five in the four hours on what are normally well used roads; that is very unusual for Autumn in the Flinders Ranges.

We only saw one small area of surface water in Brachina Gorge and none in Bunyeroo. There is usually quite a bit of water in both gorges. We noticed one other area of open water to the east of Brachina Gorge. This, of course, was nothing to do with the pandemic but most likely a lot to do with climate change.

The state of the vegetation varied from fair to highly stressed, although in general better than in the Willow Springs area.

Between Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges
The road between Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges, some of 'The Flatirons' on the left, Wilpena Pound in the distance again
A 'stitch' of two photos. There is a small artefact of the stitching process in the bottom left corner
Photos taken by my Mavic Mini drone, 2020/03/28.

To Blinman, 2020/03/29
We drove the 100 kilometre round trip to Blinman in the afternoon. The hotel, cafe and mine-tour business were all closed. Nothing was open. We saw a few moving cars while we were in Blinman but we did not pass a single vehicle while driving to Blinman or returning.

The vegetation varied from terribly impacted by drought to in fair condition.

Thoughts, observations (well after leaving the Flinders Ranges)

Thought, 2020/04/13

At the present time Australia seems to have the spread of the virus under control; even in the USA, which has enormously more cases, the number of new cases is showing signs of having peaked.

It is too early to tell what is going to happen in third world nations that don't have the resources of first world nations; will the disease spread until the majority of the people have contracted it and developed immunity?

If this happens, while these nations might lose 5% or even more of their people to the virus, the remainder will be able to go on without having to socially isolate. They will be able to reopen their factories and businesses and get back to work while the world's first world nations will have to stay in 'shut-down', at least until a vaccine is widely available.

This could give third world nations a great economic advantage over first world nations. What a turn around!

Second thought; 2020/04/14

As Australia is getting on top of the pandemic, we could start opening up our economy and society soon (but not to international travellers or perhaps commerce). It will be a different economy, with limited 'globalism'.

All speculation, of course.

Observation, 2020/04/27

Worldometers reported that in Australia there had been 6,711 cases of Covid-19, 83 deaths and 5,539 people had recovered. From a high of around 400 new cases a day between March 22nd and the end of the month the average had fallen to about 15 per day over the last week.

In my state, South Australia, cases had fallen from a peak of around 30 a day to an average of one a day over the last week, there had been four deaths and two people remained in intensive care; of a total of 438 cases, 411 had been confirmed to have recovered. Apart from one case in the far southeast of the state all active cases were in the greater metropolitan area of the state capital, Adelaide.

Yet when I posted a suggestion on Facebook that the restrictions could start to be slowly and cautiously removed most of the comments were against that action. (Most of my Facebook 'friends' live in the country districts where there were no active cases of the virus.) My impression was that an unjustified level of fear was making people over-cautious. The restrictions are causing damage to many businesses, many individuals have lost their jobs, many people are suffering financial stress and the younger generations are going to have huge government debts to pay off, but fear seems to be overriding concerns such as these.

Again I am reminded of the very different responses to the pandemic and the much greater threat of climate change. It seems that fear of an immediate personal threat, even an unjustified fear, is much more effective at getting action than concern about a huge global disaster that will reach its peak some decades in the future.

Observation, 2020/05/04

My state, South Australia, has just had its twelfth day with no new Covid cases diagnosed. The talk is about how and when we are going back to normal.

My wife, Denece Clarke, and I are retired. The 'shut down' has not made much difference to our lives. We cancelled a planned 3 week trip to NSW and had a few days in the Flinders Ranges early on instead, we haven't been able to eat out at all, and have had to use take-away coffee (in our keep-cups, not throw-away ones) rather than drinking at the coffee places. And we can't visit the grandkids. Like just about everyone we've avoided going places where we would be likely to encounter many others (but we didn't do that much anyway). We've been able to walk in parks. I've done as much at Gleeson Wetlands, Crystal Brook Central Park and Bowman Park as I would have done without the shutdown.

Many would have had very different experiences: those who lost their jobs, those in supermarkets etcetera, who've had a lot of contact with other people, those whose businesses have been shut down, those who've had to home-school their kids and, especially perhaps, those who work in the health services.

It would be interesting to know other people's experiences. I suppose that will come in time.

Update 2020/08/13

In the Australian state of Victoria there has been a second wave of the virus. Far more people have died in this one state in the second wave than died in the whole country in the first wave.

Update 2020/11/20

Victoria has now gone more than a fortnight without a new community acquired case.

South Australia has recorded some community acquired cases, I believe the number is 22 to the present. As I write we are in a very strict lockdown that was to last six days, but as the outbreak seems to be under control the authorities have reduced that to three days; the lockdown will end midnight tomorrow night.

The source of the SA outbreak was a worker bringing the infection out into the community from a quarantine hotel. Australian citizens returning home from overseas have to quarantine in designated hotels for two weeks after arrival. As one would expect, a few of these people have brought the infection with them and, of course, workers in those hotels are at risk of infection.

There had been a very few cases in NSW in the last few weeks, but that, and all other states seem to have the pandemic fully under control.

The USA 2020/11/20

An election for President was conducted on 2020/11/03. Wikipedia reported that Biden had won 306 electoral college votes to Trump's 232, yet Trump has not conceded defeat.

Getting back onto the subject of Covid-19, the USA has by far the greatest number of Covid cases of any country. Worldometers reports 57 million cases and 1.37 million deaths worldwide. The USA has passed 12 million cases and a quarter of a million deaths. The next country in cases is India with 9 million cases; the country following the USA in the most deaths is Brazil with 168 thousand.

Also as of 2020/11/20 Australia has had a total of 27,790 cases and 907 deaths. So Australia has had 1,085 cases per million people, and 35 death per million, while the USA has had 36,385 cases per million and 779 deaths per million. So Australia has had about 3% as many cases per million as the USA and 4% as many deaths per million.

Update 2020/12/19

There have now been 76 million cases recorded world-wide, nearly 18 million in the USA and 28 thousand in Australia; most of them in Victoria from early July to mid September. In the last 24 hours in Australia there have been about 15 locally acquired cases in NSW, one in Queensland and none in the other Australian states and territories. The total number of recorded cases in my state, South Australia, is 563.

Several effective and safe vaccines have been produced and approved. Vaccination has started in the USA, the UK and probably other places. Vaccination has not yet started in Australia, largely because of the very low case numbers.

Update 2021/04/09

COVID has mutated and some of the mutant strains are more contagious than the original strain. Plainly, the more of the virus particles there are circulating in the world the more mutations will occur and the greater the risk that more dangerous variations will arise. It is possible that some new strains will be immune to existing vaccines.

At 2021/04/09 Worldometers reported that there had been a total of over 134 million cases and over 23 million were active.

It has truly been said that "none of us are safe until we are all safe".

Blood-clotting side effect; comment 2021/04/09

In Australia at the time of writing there is major over-reaction to a very few cases of a blood-clotting side effect possibly associated with the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.

The BBC reported that there had been 86 cases of blood-clotting apparently from 25 million doses of the vaccine administered in Europe; that's an average of one case in each 290,000 vaccinations. It seems that the blood-clotting occurs in younger people.

I have been disappointed in the reporting on the ABC radio in Australia. They are giving this very rare problem far more coverage than it deserves and unnecessarily causing concern. (I don't listen to any radio other than the ABC.)


Update 2021/07/23

The more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is widespread in the greater Sydney area (has been for the last several weeks) in spite of a tight shut-down, also for the last several weeks. Yesterday there were some 124 new cases, a recent record. Today I have heard speculation that getting this outbreak under control might prove to be impossible.

There is also a serous outbreak in Melbourne and a few other parts of Victoria.

My home state, South Australia, has a small outbreak in and near Adelaide. At the time of writing there were two new cases yesterday and one new case today. In SA there has been a serous failure to provide sufficient COVID testing. Many people have had to queue for anything up to 12 hours; and some were even then turned away.

Vaccination in Australia continues to be much slower than in comparable nations due the failure of the Morrison federal government to secure sufficient supplies of vaccine. At this time Our World in Data is reporting that only 11.8% of Australians are fully vaccinated. See Morrison government's failure with COVID-19 vaccination for more on this.

Just in the last few days Pharmacists have been permitted to provide COVID vaccinations; they have been able to provide influenza vaccinations for several years. This is a step forward, but as mentioned above the main bottle-neck is in vaccine supply and testing rather than vaccination sites.

A significant proportion of the Australian population are unwilling to be vaccinated (particularly with the Astra Zeneca vaccine) due to a combination of mixed messaging from the media, inconsistent messaging from government, and ignorance. (As one example, billionaire Clive Palmer widely published grossly misleading figures on the risks of vaccination compared to the risks from COVID. Shock-jock Alan Jones has also been spreading false and misleading information, as is his wont.)

Update 2021/12/27

The advent of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has greatly changed the pandemic situation. The Omicron variant is much more contagious than earlier variants but seems to be much less deadly. At the time of writing there are still unanswered questions about Omicron; for example, does contracting Omicron provide immunity to the other variants?

Also at the time of writing there were far more active cases in Australia than there ever have been previously. This was partly due to states opening their borders and partly due to the spread of Omicron. WA was the only state with very few active COVID cases.

Update 2022/02/02

After the WA premier promising to open the borders with other states on 2022/02/05 he has again closed the border, saying that with the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID to do anything else would be irresponsible. Denece and I have permission (on the grounds of reunion with immediate family) to fly to WA on 2022/02/06.

By this date the (first?) peak of COVID infections, in mid January (about 100,000 cases per day), has passed (down to about 40,000 cases per day now).

Significant points

This section added

Lasting damage to the body from Covid-19 infections

As of the present time there is strong evidence that Covid infections can leave victims with lasting heart and lung damage. Brain damage also seems possible.

Mortality: Percentages of deaths

On 2020/07/18 deaths as a percentage of total cases reported by Worldometers varied greatly between countries.
  • World: 4.23%

  • Australia: 1.03%
  • Brazil: 3.81%
  • Singapore: 0.057%
  • USA: 3.75%
  • UK: 15.4%
The UK has a death rate 270 times as high as that of Singapore.

It seems likely that different strains of the virus in different countries was likely to be an important factor is this great variation.

Closed cases

On 2020/04/28 Worldometers reported huge differences, and some very high figures, on the percentage of deaths among the closed cases. Cases were considered to be closed when the outcome was either 'recovered/discharged' or the victim had died.

The percentage of deaths among the 'closed cases'...

  • USA: 29%
  • Spain: 16%
  • Italy: 29%
  • France: 34%
  • Germany: 5%
  • UK: Not available

  • World: 19%
  • Australia (my country): 1.48%
Apart from Australia the countries on the list above were those with the highest numbers of Covid cases listed on the Worldommeters site. Australia was 43rd on the list, that was ordered by the number of Covid cases. The figures for percentage of deaths were tending to decline with time.

What could explain such huge differences in the percentages of deaths among the closed cases? Why the high levels in France, Italy and the USA, a significantly lower level in Spain and a much lower level in Germany. Australia could be considered a special case in this group as it has a relatively very low incidence of the pandemic.

This section modified

The COVIDSafe app, an opinion


Why write this section?

As with much of what I write on my Web site this helps me to reason what I should do and how I think about a particular subject. This section provides a record of why I chose to not install the COVIDSafe app.
The Australian federal government Internet site says of the app: "COVIDSafe recognises other devices with the COVIDSafe app installed and Bluetooth enabled. When the app recognises another user, it notes the date, time, distance and duration of the contact and the other user’s reference code." It then is available for tracing contacts between people who have been diagnosed with the disease and others who may either have given the disease to them or who may be at risk of acquiring the disease from them.

At the time of writing there were 2 known active Covid-19 cases in my state, South Australia, with a total population of about 1.7 million. The known active cases should be, and most likely would be, self-isolating. There were none north of the greater Adelaide area; that is, none within 100km of me. In the last 15 days there was only one new case of the virus (acquired overseas).

Anyone in my area who downloaded the app would have a vanishingly small chance of encountering someone with the virus and a smaller chance of acquiring the virus from that person (considering the social distancing behaviours we are all observing).

We have been told that the app will record people who we have been in close contact with for 15 minutes or more. This would rule out people such as shop assistants who would make up the greatest number of the people most of us encounter. From a personal point of view, in the current situation when we are observing social distancing, the number of people I come into close contact with for 15 minutes or more over any particular week is very small (and I could remember who they were if needed).


COVID-SAfe Check-in app

This app was developed later than the earlier federal app. It allows users to point their smart phone at a QR code at the entrance to a business and record the date and time of a visit in case contact tracing should be needed. The COVID-SAfe is South Australian, other states have their own version of the same thing. This is a much more practical app than the federal government's COVIDSafe app.
I don't see justification in downloading and running the COVIDSafe app because of the far less than one in a million chance of it being of any value to me or to anyone else if I did so. It would be a different matter if there were many new cases of Covid-19 each day and new cases in my area.

Finally, my phone is an iPhone, which has been acknowledged to not interact well with the COVIDSafe app.

For much better informed facts and opinions than mine, see an article on The Conversation: How safe is COVIDSafe? What you should know about the app’s issues, and Bluetooth-related risks, 2020/05/07, by James Jin Kang, Lecturer, Computing and Security, Edith Cowan University and Paul Haskell-Dowland, Associate Dean (Computing and Security), Edith Cowan University.

This section updated

COVID and me

My wife and I were vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine 2021/05/03 and had our second jab on 2021/07/29. We are booked in to receive a booster on 2021/12/29. These were the earliest dates on which we could get vaccinated because of the lack of vaccine in Australia (see Morrison government's failure with COVID-19 vaccination). Had we been able to we would have been vaccinated earlier.

Related pages

Related pages on external sites...

News on the CORONA virus

Worldometer; status of the pandemic worldwide

Worldometrer; COVID in Australia

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Coronavirus news

Australia's Special Broadcasting Service; Coronavirus information in your language

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