PM finally outlined the covid exit plan!

The Australian Prime Minister has finally acknowledged that Australia will eventually have to learn to live with Covid.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally outlined a Covid exit plan, which will include the end of lockdowns and travel restrictions for vaccinated Australians — but it’s not clear when.

Perhaps the mix of a road map and uncertainty about the timing of our journey was always inevitable, but I’m still wondering whether the glimmer of a future without lockdowns and travel restrictions is enough to make most Australians want to celebrate or scream.

The costs of where we are now, stuck in phase one, are increasingly clear. Many of us are locked at home lamenting the canceled vacations or the missed weddings and funerals, while businesses have once again been thrown into uncertainty and deeper debt.

What’s worse, the transition plan that suddenly appeared today after weeks of intense public pressure was late on arrival, and it will be slow going for a painfully obvious reason — because vaccination rollout continues to be constrained and slow. I keep thinking of something Richard Holden, an economist at the University of New South Wales, told me this week while I was reporting on Australia’s relentless pursuit of “Covid zero.”

“The vaccine rollout is 9 to 12 months behind,” he said. “The costs we’re seeing now — if we hadn’t been too slow, we could have avoided all of them.”

That’s what seems to be so frustrating. Even as we follow the daily news conferences and numbers of new Covid cases; even as we call and call again to schedule a vaccination, if we are even eligible, we can’t help but think: It didn’t need to be like this.

With a different bet on a different vaccines a few months ago by the federal government, with more diversification of options, more people would be vaccinated by now and the Delta variant would not be moving as quickly through the population, nor would it be as frightening.

And yet, as any psychologist will tell you, there’s no use looking back at things that cannot be changed. Looking ahead, there is a need for stamina, but also cause for hope.

The good news starts with some current Covid math: Throughout the outbreak of the past few weeks, no more than three people h…

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WantingToListen 0 posts 0 views Last post by WantingToListen in BBC Radio 4 documentary …ave been in intensive care at a time, and no one has died.

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As Professor Stuart Turville, a virologist from the Kirby Institute, told the ABC, the Delta variant is both more contagious and not nearly as deadly.

“Looking at the 28-day follow-up after infection, the death rate for the original variants was 1.9 percent mortality,” he said. “So far, the Delta variant is showing 0.3 percent mortality.”

Over time, there is more room for confidence. Peter Collignon, a physician and microbiology professor at the Australian National University, whom I often talk to about the pandemic, reminded me this week that Australia is better off now than it was a year ago because even though the vaccine rollout has been slow, more than 7 million jabs have already been given.

And the people with the highest rates of vaccination, he noted, are the most vulnerable people — Australians older than 70.

In the next three months, if more vaccine supplies reach Australia as scheduled, the likelihood of death and hospitalization will continue to go down because more people will be protected by vaccines. And then, as the prime minister announced today, everyone will have been offered a vaccine, and life will start to return to some semblance of “normal.” We’ll probably still have to get a Covid test before traveling internationally, but hey, at least we’ll be traveling.

Is it all too slow? Yes. Is that rage-inducing? Absolutely, and even more so if you’ve been paying attention. People like Mr. Collignon and Mr. Holden, for example, warned months ago that this winter would be bad if the vaccine rollout wasn’t up to speed. And they were right.

But at the same time, finally, there is an endpoint in sight — a horizon, as government officials have called it. And so that anger might as well be leavened with longing and hope.

In other words, even though the road out of Covid still feels achingly long, with the prime minister talking hopefully about next year, as if that’s just around the corner, it’s worth remembering that there will be plenty of reasons to feel better along the way.

We are officially and gradually, jab by jab, getting unstuck and less complacent.

After years of people rolling their eyes at the warnings to be vaccinated, there is a new urgency, with color-coded warnings in train stations and more public announcements about the need for protection.

After years of Covid being visible mostly to people in health care or among the elite, the outbreak has made it impossible to ignore. People are taking notice. They’re trying to get vaccinated. And they are also talking more openly about their own paranoia, which is always a good sign.

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