Q&A: Economist, AMA President Fighting Covid Response


An economist has slammed Australia for mistakes it made in dealing with the pandemic, but health experts fired back at Thursday night’s Q&A.

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Economist Cameron Murray and AMA President Omar Khorshid debate the merits of Australia’s approach to fighting Covid-19.

Economist Cameron Murray and AMA President Omar Khorshid debate the merits of Australia’s approach to fighting Covid-19.

Economist Cameron Murray wants Australia to open.Source: ABC

An economist has lashed out at Australia’s response to the pandemic, arguing that authorities have made mistakes by closing schools, forcing people to work from home and trying to vaccinate the majority of Australians before they eventually – at some point. later – reopen the borders and return to normal.

Cameron Murray told Thursday night’s Q&A panel that the coronavirus is « a thousand times worse for the elderly than for the young and we don’t need to vaccinate 100 percent of the young before we open ».

« From a public health perspective, it’s not clear to me that any of our responses were ideal, » he said.

Economist Cameron Murray wants Australia to open.

Economist Cameron Murray wants Australia to open.Source: ABC

“Look at the number of people… all those birthdays postponed, all those couples who will never have the kids they want because… they were afraid of the pandemic, all those routine health checks that got delayed and we can’t catch up, do you think they outweigh the risks?”

Omar Khorshid, president of the Australian Medical Association, had heard enough and intervened.

« Are you seriously suggesting that Covid is not affecting young people or that our border closures have not made us nearly the most successful country in the world when it comes to managing this pandemic? » he asked.

Mr Murray wondered if Australia had been « the most successful ». dr. Khorshid told him that Australia had been « extremely successful ».

Kamalini Lokuge, an epidemiologist at the Australian National University, told Murray that countries that didn’t do what Australia did paid a huge price.

« Cameron, if you look at the records of every country that hasn’t done these things, all of that has happened and a lot of people have died from Covid, » she said.

“May I speak as a public health expert and not as an economist. If you look at what’s happening in the UK right now, they have close to 50 percent coverage. And they started to open. They opened up to other countries in Europe.

“They have now had to close with Portugal. Their prime minister, their finance minister, has said that we may have to postpone the opening because we have a new variant and more and more hospitalizations and a higher number of cases.

“So I think it’s a good idea to wait a few months to get to a level of vaccine coverage where we know we can control this disease without rigorous measures.

« One of the things I’ve had issues with during the pandemic is people without the right expertise to comment. »

Pitjantjatjara wife Sally Scales told Mr Murray she is also siding with a more cautious approach to reopening.

« For me, I will always be careful if I am part of a group that will always be vulnerable, » she said.

“Aboriginal people have underlying issues, I will always choose caution and make sure we protect our elders. It is a luxury not to be careful.

“If Covid has entered an Aboriginal community, we will not have the luxury of quarantining alone.

“For my communities, if we had Covid, everyone would have it in a day. And the turnaround time for the Royal Flying Doctors is eight hours to Alice Springs or Adelaide.”

Australia’s ability to live nearly virus-free has been breathlessly praised by international media, including the Washington Post and The New York Times, but it comes at a cost – just ask Victorians who will get out of their fourth lockdown in 18 months on Friday.

But the vaccine rollout in the country has been slower than expected and there are fears that the reopening of international borders will not happen in the coming years, as attempts at aggressive suppression mean that even a handful of new cases require strict restrictions.

According to UNSW economics professor Gigi Foster, who spoke to news.com.au earlier this year, it is difficult to estimate the full cost of Australia’s Covid-19 response.

But she said lockdowns were probably doing more harm than good.

“What I can say is that under all reasonable assumptions the costs of our lockdown response far outweigh the benefits in a Covid world,” she said.

“This was clear early on and that’s why I’ve been saying for almost a year now that we’re making a big mistake when we implement lockdowns in response to Covid.”

NSW and Queensland are the latest states to experience fears of new cases after a Victorian couple fled lockdown and was infected across two state lines.

There have been no additional cases in either state to date, but authorities in both states have drawn up a long list of exposure sites.

with Alexis Carey


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