Our current situation within Australia is one of dire consequences. You might be surprised that it is not because of a virus in its Delta variant or any other variant. Our desperate situation is due to our state premiers holding us hostage with lockdowns, border closures and supporting legislation that leave us with no option other than to lose our businesses and livelihoods. Instead of supporting Australians, they blame us, test us, scare us, and usher us towards submission to a new medical treatment that is still in its phase 3 trials. We are pushed towards taking this risk with the threat of not getting our lives back and continuing to live in a perpetual life of restrictions that edge on human rights abuses.
The quite simple but obscure reason behind our hospital system being under unbearable pressure is that they are in a perpetual state of self-protectionism, trying desperately not to let the public come to grips with how underfunded, understaffed, and the utter disrepair of our hospital system has been in for many years. The sad fact is that every state has been running at near maximum capacity with staff on constant double and triple shifts just trying to manage the load of patients. This has been the case well before Covid-19. Recently, one of my family members attended a Perth hospital only to sit in a code yellow Emergency Department and watch as exhausted staff tried to manage people lining up outside, and ambulances waiting in the driveway. WA Premier, Mark McGowan is a regular offender in hiding from this reality, under his leadership; even after a promise of 200 additional ICU beds in March last year, the number of available ICU beds in WA remains at 121. Even a hundred covid hospitalisations would expose the underfunding, understaffing and neglected hospital system.
It would simply take one disaster to overwhelm any of our hospitals completely, or worse still, leave them unable to cope. The beds are there, but many of the staff are no longer, they have been moved on by hospital administrators–who emptied the wards of elective surgeries and general admissions for the expected flood of Covid-19 patients. That ever-publicized flood of patients simply never arrived. In the first few months of the pandemic, people presenting to hospitals dropped 32% and by July 2020, the people coming were still 8.4% down in 20191. A lot of the casual staff went without shifts and ended up having to seek employment elsewhere.
NSW is a perfect example of the state of the hospital system and its lack of ability to have enough staff and capacity to deal with everyday situations. Unfortunately, NSW is far from being the only state in this position. Going back through the statistical averages of the last 5-year hospitalisations for respiratory infection and disease, it is quite odd that the numbers of people presenting at hospital are not higher in the covid times than any previous year2, the reason for this is simply because the labelling of people presenting to hospitals has changed.
2019 saw NSW have 2,741,271 hospital visits, which is comparable to the 5-year average. The current hospitalized covid patients represent 0.025% of the 2019 annual, all-cause, hospitalisations3. Based on available figures, the 116 covid patients in NSW ICU represent 13% of their capacity. Although this is still a significant number it shows that when an ICU is operating at close to 90% capacity quite regularly, 100 additional people can completely overwhelm it. At the time of writing this, there has also unfortunately been 698 deaths in NSW with a positive covid result. Is this out of the ordinary? Are the deaths from covid? Or are they from other causes and they simply had a recent covid positive test or, in some cases, even have already recovered from covid? The data is as unclear as the media messaging.
2019, in NSW, also saw influenza emergency visits ranging from 150-850 cases per week—which breached the statistically pre-determined epidemic threshold parameters 5 times over that year4. Pneumonia has also skyrocketed with emergency visits ranging between 400-750 cases per week. The total of all respiratory illness emergency visits ranges from 5000 to 9000 cases per week5 in NSW alone, across the year. In NSW, 2019, 399 people died from influenza and 4,442 people from pneumonia. Pneumonia has also been present in over 50% of deaths classified as covid by a positive test. Respiratory disease deaths totalled 5,360 in that year alone. No one is arguing that Covid-19 isn’t serious, it’s just that when you consider that the virus has a 99.95% survival rate (CSR) and a case fatality rate of 0.06%7 for those under 60, you might start to question, is this really the reason for our overburdened hospital systems? The data seems to point more towards the state premiers protecting themselves from the shameful reality that our hospital systems have been overwhelmed well before 2020.
It’s time that the population stand up and open their eyes to the real issue at hand, we need to stop being bullied into compliance and sitting in acceptance through fear of what is arguably not an alarming statistic compared to previous years. Although the virus and case numbers are on every news channel, in every newspaper and in every conversation, it is clear the numbers truly have not deviated from the mortality rates of previous years, in fact, they are seemingly lower.
It is evident that the attributed cause, modified reporting methods and constant media airtime is all that has changed. It seems we are experiencing something more akin to Stockholm or Munchausen’s syndrome than actually being in any serious danger. It’s time to ensure that we receive untainted statistics and that our leaders are kept accountable while not being permitted to hide behind vague Covid-19 statistics.
6 Calculated as the global crude survival rate total deaths vs total population for Crude mortality rate (CMR)