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History shows that when we can do better, we don't. This is quite simply because we're genetically coded to default to what feels most comfortable. To do better invariably means, do different, and different involves the uncertainty, unknown things and possibly taking risks.
The way we deal with uncertainty, unknowns and risk is directly proportional to our knowledge and ability to comprehend. It also determines the extent to which we can do better. In other words, how successful we can become.
The Covid-19, Coronavirus pandemic is challenging each and every one of us to do better. If we cannot be better than the virus, we will be its victim, either through loosing our life or being inflicted by its ailments. This virus is not intelligent. It's simply very good at surviving and reproducing itself, which also happens to be one of the remarkable attributes of the human species.
There are currently no effective treatments for coronavirus and no drugs have been approved by the Therapeutics Goods Administration.
Studies indicate that most people that have recovered from a coronavirus infection are not naturally producing antibodies that would make them immune and protecting them from being infected again.
Hence, scientific endeavors to develop treatments as well as sufficiently potent vaccines have at never been greater. The general consensus is that safe, potent vaccines will be ready for production within the first half of 2021. However, manufacturing limitations means that a safe level of community protection will only be achieved by about 2024 when about 70% of the population is inoculated.
In the interim, there are numerous scientific, technical, economic and various other hurdles to overcome. Perhaps the most challenging hurdle is the one of trust. The longer the pandemic lasts, the greater the toll it exacts on society. As a consequence medical authorities and governments loose society's trust. Anti-vaxers and those that exacerbate Covid-19 conspiracies are further eroding trust. Their messaging is already striking chords of uncertainty, mistrust, unacceptable risk, and leading to concerns that community protection will only be achieved by 2026 - 2028.
Quite simply because not doing so will exact a toll that we do not have the emotional nor financial capacity to bear. The various government strategies have provided invaluable understandings of human behavior. The key lessons thus far are;
No single strategy by itself completely solves the problem. Populations under severe emotional stress (driven mainly by fear, uncertainty and lack of hope) become intolerant quickly, especially if things aren't going in the right direction. Finding consensus becomes harder. Mistrust of politicians, governments and authorities escalates. Alternative views gain popularity all be they counter-productive. The suppression and elimination strategies are seen as futile. People are no longer prepared to sacrifice their freedom, endure financial damage and suffer restrictions. The private sector would like to be more proactive, but are shackled by regulations. From these lessons we can now expand our thinking and innovate our way out this pandemic.
1. It should not take people too far out of their comfort zone.
2. It should proactively address the problems that the community sees as being most important.
3. It must not only be equitable, but easily seen as such. Keep it fair and simple. If it needs complex explanation, leave it for later when you have implicit trust.
4. The saying, "If it is to be, it's up to me" applies to leaders not follower. Hence, if someone or something else can be used to achieve the required outcome then use that instead.
5. The path/method of least resistance will be less expensive and faster.
1. Take the pressure off hospitals by providing dedicated Covid-19 Treatment Centres. Cater for dealing with 500 - 1000 new cases per day with 10 needing admission into a Covid Treat Centre. Unused warehouse and buildings like the vacant Masters Stores would be ideal for conversion.
10. Make available to everyone low-cost, personal, DIY coronavirus testers. These are not extremely accurate, but at a cost of $2-3 per test, it allows people to test themselves at least once per day. This higher testing frequency would compensate for the lower accuracy. Since it could be done in the comfort of ones own personal space, people could do this as part of their daily hygiene routine. i.e. swabbing twice a day before brushing teeth. I liken this type of tester to the home pregnancy pee-stick. It's not 100% accurate all of the time, but is used in-conjunction with a feeling, which is ultimately confirmed with a more sophisticated test.
11. Since this virus is not going to be completely eradicated any time soon, each household should make a plan detailing how it will deal with household member/s being infected. Good planning will ensure that not everyone in the household is infected. Here's a link to some things to consider in developing your family's plan.
12. Hard lockdown & ring fence on a municipality by municipality basis where its daily case levels are greater than say 100 per day. This allow resources to be better applied & focussed on addressing the behavior of those citizens that are driving the high infection transmission rates. Use the ADF to enforce restrictions and manage the delivery of essential supplies and services into the locked hot spots.
These suggestions are by no means the be all and end all and are not the only things that will make a difference, but it's a reasonably good start to get us on the path to recovery. These ideas will come at a cost, but at a cost that can be more easily borne. These are also actions that can be shared across the population, thus taking the pressure off our essential workers.
I'm not suggesting that we completely abandon what we're currently doing in favor of these ideas, but instead recommending that we implement these in parallel to hasten flatten of the curve and a return to a more "normal" way of life.
Since these ideas cannot be implemented overnight it's important we don't delay. So I implore the private sector to step-up, be proactive, and be a key part of the beating this virus quickly.
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