Government responses to the pandemic and what needs to change

An aggressive vaccination exercise and not lockdown is the key to tackle Covid 19

The pandemic panic is slowly subsiding. People, in many ways, are adapting to new ways and the panic of a year ago has vanished. Not so the disease. There is fear of fourths and a fifths waves hitting various countries, especially with the colder months approaching in the northern hemisphere. 

Yes, some countries have been more successful than others in rolling out the vaccine, but this article is not about discussing vaccination percentages. I’ll leave that to the experts and respective Governments. In the defence of many countries, especially heavily populated ones like India, they have made a commendable effort rolling out the vaccine. Yes, as with any country and government, there will always be people who think the Government could have done a better job. Hindsight is always 20-20. 

Here is where I would like to take up the conversation – with the benefit of hindsight and the learnings from the past 18 months since we have learned about the virus on a global scale. Or, worse, the lack of learnings and lack of changing strategies by some Governments that will further negatively affect the hospitality, airline, and travel industries.A picture containing glass<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Description automatically generated

What has not changed is the fact that there are certain industries which are extremely exposed to the economic onslaught that the virus has brought on – hospitality, tourism, aviation, and entertainment industries at the forefront to name a few – and must bear the brunt. Many countries, especially in the West, have rolled out extensive economic support packages in the form of subsidies or unemployment benefits for the industries at great costs. These costs and future expenditures cannot be extended indefinitely as someone has to foot the bill! 

I do understand the Governments who want to ‘open’ the markets and industries and take risks, because they are aware of the economic impact further lockdowns will have on the country’s financial future and the immense burden on the state coffers.

Lessons not learned from the past 18 months

What I do not understand are countries who keep on shutting down their economies in a very aggressive manner due to only a few cases; isolating themselves to such an extent that even their own citizens have a difficult time to get home from overseas or to enjoy domestic travel. One such country is Australia.

A white sign on a wooden wall<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Description automatically generated with low confidenceThe crux of the problem is that the assumptions on which the decisions were taken to implement this ongoing aggressive lockdown strategies are now proving to be incorrect, resulting in long term challenges for the people and the economy. The Governments need to change course, and here is why.

When implementing these harsh lockdowns, the idea was to protect the population and country from the virus, which certainly made sense at the time and possibly could have worked if CV19 was (a) not easily transmissible or (b) able to be eradicated. By now we know that both assumptions are wrong, and the virus is here to stay. So why are the Governments not changing strategy and adjust to these findings?

We have seen how easily CV19 mutates, and this proves that we will not get a permanent handle on the situation anytime soon. It is safe to assume that this will have to be treated like the common flu - a recurring and ever mutating disease with annually changing variants, where a jab or tablet will be required.

The low infection levels in a country like Australia also resulted in low vaccination levels amongst the population. Many friends and family have said to me: “We don’t have the virus here in my part of Australia, so we don’t need to get vaccinated”. Now what? Keep the country in eternal lockdown? It is simply not possible! 

Not just because Australians abroad and Australians at home can’t visit family and friends – or at least the Government makes it almost impossible and prohibitively expensive coming from abroad – but the economy will not be able to sustain the ongoing impact and many industries will fold; resulting in major unemployment and higher Government subsidies and bailouts. All funded by the taxpayer and, who knows, maybe even higher taxes?

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A country like Australia and others following the same path will have to reopen one way or another. Post that, the infection rates will spike, Australia and others will have to go through the same challenges as other nations but have the benefit of hindsight, and hopefully learn from the mistakes other nations made.

The only thing we can hope for is that the time gained through the delay will be used by the Governments to vaccinate the population as quickly as possible and to prepare the health services for what lies on the horizon. 

Because it will hit home, and it will hit hard, unless acceptable levels of immunisation are achieved. Our industry will be decimated beyond recognition if there is no change in strategy and course.

I hope I’m wrong… Stay safe! Love and support each other!

Tags assigned to this article:
Chris K. Franzen COVID-19 coronavirus


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