A few weeks ago we discussed the attractions of a “Partial Lockdown” whereby lockdown restrictions on those who are fully vaccinated are reduced. But since the date of that post almost 2 million additional people across Australia have joined the ranks of the fully vaccinated and in less than a fortnight the percentage of people in NSW who have received 1 dose of vaccine will reach 60%. As a result it is time that we move on from the concept of a “Partial Lockdown” to the exciting era of “MyLockdown” where everyone observes a “lockdown” tailored perfectly to their needs.
Hard general lockdowns are past their “Use by” date
The logic of a general lockdown made some sense in 2020 and early 2021 when there were no vaccines and there were genuine concerns that it would be impossible to protect those most at risk from COVID-19 infections unless the virus was heavily suppressed or eradicated. Using a lockdown to completely eradicate COVID-19 from a geographical area meant that everyone in that area could then get on with their lives without disruption, with the exception that movements into and out of the geographical area would be subject to strict quarantine measures.
Australia proved to be so good at suppressing COVID-19 during 2020/21 that the period was, for most of the country, essentially COVID-19 free and lockdowns were relatively short. The one exception being Victoria which struggled initially to get its COVID-19 systems (quarantine, tracing, testing etc) working well and as a result experienced extended periods in lockdown.
For the majority of Australians who had no pressing interest (much to the horror of the globalist business and chattering classes) in moving in or out of Australia during a global pandemic, the best option, in an environment where there were no vaccines and the risks of COVID-19 were uncertain, was to operate a national “belt of steel” quarantine system for arrivals to Australia and then enjoy life in a COVID-19 free environment.
There was very little interest on the part of the general public in risking the comforts of a COVID-19 free environment just so that a minority could quickly get back to ticking off items on their international travel bucket list. As for the so called “stranded Aussies” desperately trying to get home, there was a clearly a lot more than the “35,000” that we were constantly told about on the nightly news, as between March 2020 and June 2021 almost 600,000 “stranded Aussies” managed to get back on home turf via hotel quarantine. 600,000 arrivals suggest that it was not just “stranded aussies” arriving in Australia over the last 18 months.
But things change.
The big thing that changed was development of COVID-19 vaccines as that meant there was now an effective voluntary option to protect those who consider themselves at particular risk from the COVID-19 virus. Every day that another dose of vaccine is administered to a vulnerable person the “protect the vulnerable” argument for continuing to use lockdowns is weakened. Every day that another vulnerable person receives a jab the imperative of maintaining a zero local transmission environment loses its sting. As the risk of serious illness or hospitalisation or death shrinks away, and it always was a small risk for the vast majority of the population, lockdowns become a very, very expensive in public health.
As the arguments weaken, the cost v benefit analysis of using a lockdown shifts. This shift has been happening every day since March 2021 with every single jab that is administered. Each jab that a person receives, moves them a bit further from one side of the argument to the other. They may not feel super human or “COVID-19 proof” but their perception of the costs and the benefits of hard lockdowns or pursuing a zero local transmission environment changes as they become vaccinated. And as the number of people who have been jabbed increases, the political environment changes too and that is something that our politicans pay attention to.
Slowly but surely the number of people who are keen members of Team Hard Lockdown is falling and the number of people who are fully vaccinated and wish to use that status to get on with life are rising.
But we have not jabbed enough yet!
There has been a lot of talk recently about reaching a magical figure of 70 – 80% fully vaccinated before we can “open up”. This is nonsense. Leaving to one side the vagueness of the concept of “opening up”, there is no magic about 70%, 80%, 90% fully vaccinated or even 99% fully vaccinated.
The argument of those promoting these numbers seems to be that reaching one of these numbers will somehow offer a vulnerable person, who has somehow managed to avoid vaccination, a similar level of protection as a hard lockdown or a zero local transmission environment. The argument seems to be that we cannot leave “lockdown” unless the environment is as safe to a vulnerable person as a zero local transmission environment.
They sometimes suggest that reaching one these numbers will ensure ‘herd immunity’ and the safety of the unvaccinated vulnerable. All of this is nonsense as what we have seen around the world over recent months confirms that there is no “herd immunity” with COVID-19 and no level of vaccination of the general community that should give comfort to an unvaccinated vulnerable person. At 90% vaccination vulnerable people will still be vulnerable to a COVID-19 infection from a vaccinated person.
COVID-19 vaccines offer limited protection from infection and even limited protection from mild illness. The biggest benefit they appear to offer, at this time, to vulnerable persons is a lower risk of being infected by a vaccinated person and a lower risk from serious illness, hospitalisation or death.
This means that there is no paradise ahead for people who are vulnerable to COVID-19. Every person who is considered vulnerable or considers themselves vulnerable must continue to take care and protect themselves. The key difference between March 2020 and August 2021 is that they now have COVID-19 vaccines as an option, in addition to the existing method of distancing themselves from possible sources of infection.
Every vaccinated vulnerable person is one less person who needs the protection of a general hard lockdown.
Approximately 5 million people in Australia (approximately 1 in 4 people) are fully vaccinated and over 9.5 million have received 1 dose. That is a lot of people to continue to subject to hard lockdown restrictions to protect the likely few remaining vulnerable people who had months and months to either get vaccinated or to work out an alternative strategy to protect themselves until they get vaccinated or on an ongoing basis if they choose not to get vaccinated.
NOW is the time that the few remaining unvaccinated vulnerable people start taking primary responsibility for protecting themselves from a COVID-19 infection (and that may include getting off the couch and down to the doctor for an Astra-Zeneca jab tomorrow)
What is MyLockdown
MyLockdown simply recognises that the time has come to move to a model where those who are vulnerable to COVID-19 are required to adopt their own personal “lock down” approach that reflects their vulnerability and their appetite for risk. As there are more than a few tough talking folk who have somewhat deluded ideas about their vulnerability it would be good to encourage or require everyone to prepare a MyLockdown strategy.
This is not some “let it rip” nuttery as that concept involved the government stepping back and just letting COVID-19 happen and hoping for the best. Most countries effectively had no choice in 2020 as their governments were incapable of effectively suppressing or eradicating COVID-19. Australia had a choice and acheived eradication in most of the country for long stretches.
MyLockdown involves a significant and important role for government to educate and help everyone develop a personal MyLockdown approach that reflects their vulnerability to COVID-19 and their appetite for risks to their health. It is about government helping people make informed decisions for themselves. The benefits of MyLockdown are likely to extend to plenty of other areas of health and well being as people are encouraged to take a slightly more rigorous approach to their life choices.
MyLockdown will also provide a framework that makes it easier to identify those who have given thought to their COVID-19 risks and their appetite for risk. People who have completed a MyLockdown strategy can produce it if required to confirm that whatever they are doing is consistent with their MyLockdown strategy.
Creating your personal MyLockdown strategy might be done by a website or a questionnaire (in multiple languages) that guides the user through a series of questions that assesses or allows people to self assess their:
Risk of infection – this may involve questions relating to who you live with and socialise with and the risk of receiving a COVID-Infection from them. Other questions may relate to methods of personal protection you are prepared to adopt. Face masks, hand hygiene, social distancing when out etc.
Risk of serious illness, hospitalisation or death from COVID-19 – this may involve explaining the various underlying health conditions that may involve an increased risk from COVID-19. It will also include asking whether the person has had one or two doses of vaccine.
Appetite for Risk – Some people tolerate being ill more than others. Some people might rate getting a flu like illness as a terrible outcome while others might considerable it a tolerable experience and worth risking.
Given the assessment of risk of infection, risk of serious illness and their appetite for risk the user will be presented with MyLockdown strategy options that are consistent with the assessment. They will receive their own personal set of recommendations to observe. It will be their own personally tailored lockdown…...MyLockdown!
The MyLockdown options recommended will reflect the vaccine status of the persona and depending on that status might or might not include options involving:
- wearing a face mask all the time or only in certain circumstances,
- only working from home
- not being visited indoors by people who work or live in circumstances at higher risk of being infected
- not living with, visiting or being visited by people who are not vaccinated
- not attending certain types of premises – small shops, night clubs or confined places with people whose infection status is unknown
- addressing the health issues that increase the risk of serious illness
Some specific examples of MyLockdown
The following are some specific examples of what MyLockdown might recommend for different groups in the community.
The Vulnerable – Older people and those with specific underlying conditions
The MyLockdown recommendations will depend greatly on whether the person has been vaccinated. If a person in this group has not been vaccinated or refuses to get vaccinated, MyLockDown is likely to recommend a restrictive strategy that involves lots of distancing and infection controls including:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Order food to be home delivered
- If you have to leave the house wear a mask at all times, maintain a safe distance and wash your hands frequently
- Avoid small shops are other small enclosed public spaces (e.g. places of worship, small retail stores and offices)
- Anyone entering your household must wear a mask
- Wear a mask when people who are not part of your household visit you
- Anyone entering your household must be vaccinated
- Do not live with unvaccinated people who are leaving the home to work (insist they move or get vaccinated)
If a person in this vulnerable group has been vaccinated the recommendations may be reduced, the degree of reduction will depend on the specific vulnerabilities they identified when creating their MyLockdown strategy. The following is a possible set of recommendations.
- You may leave the house
- You do not need to wear a mask out of the home but you should if displaying flu-like symptoms
- You may have unvaccinated people visit your home but ask them to wear a mask if displaying cold/flu-like symptoms
- You may live with unvaccinated people but ask them to wear a mask if displaying cold/flu-like symptoms
Vulnerable people are likely to find MyLockdown of considerable assistance in making day to day choices that are consistent with their risk of infection, serious illness and appetite for risk. Particularly when it comes to people in their household as maintaining infection control and safe distancing can be very difficult, especially with the Delta strain.
MyLockdown might result in Grandma telling the youngsters living in her house to “GO GET THE JAB OR GO LIVE WITH AUNTIE”
People who do not want to get vaccinated or have not yet been vaccinated
The following may be appropriate MyLockdown recommendations for people who do not want to get vaccinated or have not yet been vaccinated. The recommendations will vary from person to person as they may have underlying health conditions and may have indicated that they have a low tolerance for illness (Even a Viking can fear man-flu).
- You may leave the house if you do not have an active infection or are displaying flu-like symptoms
- You may work – though some employers may require that you stay home if you have an active infection or may require that you provide a regular negative COVID-19 test result
- You do not need to wear a mask but you should if you are displaying cold/flu like symptoms
- If you have any underlying health conditions you may be at risk of severe illness if you contract COVID-19
- Some people may have MyLocker strategies that will not allow you to visit them
- Some people may have MyLocker strategies that will not allow you to live with them them
- Some people may have MyLocker strategies that will require you to wear a mask in their home
There is nothing wrong with an informed assessment that the risks of a COVID-19 infection are sufficiently minor that vaccination is not a priority or not wanted at all, but it is important that people understand how their choices may interact with the MyLockdown strategies of other people.
There is nothing wrong with being skeptical about franken bat viruses or franken bat virus vaccines but you do need to understand that not getting vaccinated may mean that Grandma or even Mum and Dad will kick you out of home or put pressure on you to get the jab.
Can I ignore my MyLockdown strategies?
People will be free (see note below) to ignore the MyLockdown recommendations but MyLockdown will warn them that their choices are not considered consistent with the assessment of their risk of infection, risk of serious illness and their appetite for risk.
Getting on with life
One people have completed the process and have adopted their personal MyLockdown strategy they can then observe that strategy and its recommendations and get on with life.
If you MyLockdown strategy allows you can:
- Go to the beach, walk the dog
- Sit in a restaurant
- Visit friends (though of course if their friend’s MyLockdown strategy involves avoiding unvaccinated people then this may not be possible)
- Go back to work – even if unvaccinated as other employees will all be following their own MyLockdown strategies and they are likely to include vaccination if they have risks factors and a low appetite for risk.
Note about work – it may be reasonable for an employer to restrict employees who have a currently active COVID-19 infection in the same way as employees can be sent home if they are currently infectious with other diseases. Thus it may be resonable for some employers to ask for unvaccinated employees to demonstrate a recent negative CVOID-19 test.
People can even ignore their personal MyLockdown strategy completely but it will take a particularly special brand of stupid to ignore MyLockdown strategy options that reflect an assessment of your own stated risks and appetite for risk. But if someone is unvaccinated with abundant risks of getting infection and suffering a serious illness and has a very low appetite for enduring serious illness and chooses to ignore MyLockdown recommendations that amount to staying at home AND then gets infected , we can at least establish they were warned and have ignored the warnings.
Zero enforcement required
The advantage of the MyLockdown approach is that no enforcement is required (see note below).
My Lockdown is little more than a system for ensuring that people confirm that they have thought about the issue and have been informed of the risks and the recommended lockdown precautions they should personally observe. Those with high risks and a low appetite for risk may be recommended to stay home. Those with the high risks and a high appettite for risk may be free to laugh in the fanged face of COVID-19.
There will be no need for COVID cops to march around the streets and issue fines for people not wearing masks when walking the dog, for exercising more than 5 km from their house, for visiting friends and relatives etc.
There might be some benefit in requiring people to demonstrate that they have at least completed a MyLockdown strategy so that it is clear that they are taking an informed and responsible attitude to their own safety. Possibly the COVID-19 cops will only be empowered to ask a person to demonstrate that they have completed and adopted a MyLockdown strategy. If they are not following the strategy at the time the COVID-19 cops might be permitted to comment “You are an idiot” but nothing more.
If they haven’t bothered to prepare a MyLockdown strategy that might warrant a fine. But even this may be unecessary if the view is taken that responsible people are likely to be behaving consistently with their personal MyLockdown strategy and those who are not prepared to spend a few minutes thinking about how they are going to manage the risks of COVID-19 do not warrant the time/effort of public authorities to wag a finger and tell them that they are an idiot.
- Note: Enforcement is always an option and the polliticians love a bit of law and order theatre so if the pollies and public demand it we could have the COVID-19 police patrolling the streets and workplaces and demanding that people show their personal MyLockdown strategy and fine them if they don’t have one are not behaving consistently with its recommendations. This might include fining a vulnerable person (possibly an ageing boomer with a bunch of underlying health conditions) who is roaming around when their MyLockdown strategy that advises them not to leave the house without a mask. Idiots putting themselves at risk might be considered a worthy reason for a hefty fine.