The Victorian government is world class … at excuses

The Victorian government is world class … at excuses. By Greg Sheridan.

Victoria is Australia’s worst-­governed jurisdiction, as its repeated Covid catastrophes attest.

Covid has defeated the Victorian government at every turn — and will likely do so again, for we are ­nowhere near clear of Covid.

The Victorian government is world class at excuses. It’s always someone else’s fault. The virus is uniquely mean to Victoria, unlike its behaviour in every other state; the federal government doesn’t like Melbourne; foreigners bring in germs; the weather is against us.

The Victorian government is like that fast-talking chancer who keeps getting and losing jobs and always has someone else to blame.

According to an economic analysis by Saul Eslake, Victoria began the century with the second highest per capita income of any state or territory, and went into lockdown last year with the second lowest. Now it has added wild new taxes and insane regulations for good measure.

The Morrison government also carries some blame for the mess in Victoria. …

What is the strategy for increasingly nasty mutations?

One reason the US failed so dismally in Afghanistan despite being there for 20 years is that it never had a 20-year strategy, but 20 successive one-year strategies. Pandemic policy in many nations has been similarly bedevilled by the fantasy that it will be over in a few weeks, therefore there is no need for really big adjustments. …

It was always the most ludicrous nonsense to claim this virus was just like the flu. The flu does not overwhelm health systems in the way Covid has consistently shown it can. But now its rate of mutations, which was unexpected when it first arrived, makes it all the more formidable and deadly.

There is a South African variant dominant in Bangladesh that is extremely resistant to vaccines. We should be very worried about that one coming here. The version of the Indian virus now in Melbourne, known as the Kappa strain, is certainly more contagious and probably more deadly than the original virus.

There are not definitive studies on this because it has mostly circulated in India, and exhaustive academic studies have not been done there.

However, its very close relative, a version of the Indian strain of Covid called Delta, is dominant in Britain and is much more contagious than the English variant, which is much more contagious than the original virus.

Epidemiologists believe that Kappa may not be quite as contagious as Delta, but is probably more vaccine resistant. It has been striking that even though, as of Wednesday, there were only 60 new cases in Victoria, several of them were among people who had been vaccinated. …

We need proper quarantine facilities now, and probably into the future as well:

The 21 breaches of hotel quarantine do represent a very high success rate for the quarantine system overall, and it’s true nothing will be perfect. The biggest breach, which led to the Victorian second wave, was entirely a consequence of disastrous mismanagement by the Victorian government. But now the virus passes through air more readily and, on the basis of Victorian evidence, can spread easily with very casual contact.

This makes the case for dedicated quarantine facilities overwhelming. The Australian public has repeatedly shown that it is deeply risk-averse about the virus. It would want the federal government to establish such facilities. …

Data on long covid is accumulating:

There is a lot of airy talk about learning to live with Covid. But this really means getting control of Covid. We cannot be relaxed about the virus circulating widely even if most people who get it, after vaccination, do not get seriously ill. This is partly because of the really disturbing reports of “long Covid”. The studies in Britain and America are sobering.

A forthcoming US book by Meghan O’Rourke, the editor of the Yale Review, suggests that between 10 and 30 per cent of those who recover from Covid end up with some form of long Covid.

We have long known that those who get a serious version of the disease can end up with serious organ damage, to lungs, heart, kidneys and other vital organs. But O’Rourke has also written of the acutely worrying phenomenon of a significant proportion of those who get a mild version of the disease ending up with something like an acute, debilitating version of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.