Features Australia

Will the last Dan standing turn out the lights?

When will governments learn that lockdowns don’t work?

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

The line-up of Leftist icons for this year’s Nobel peace prize — the WHO, Greta Thunberg and Jacinda Ardern — were paragons of woke virtue. So, why were none successful? Perhaps committee members, based in Stockholm, had had one too many close encounters of the irritating kind with the teen queen of climate catastrophism. Maybe after the disappointment of feting Barack Obama, Ardern’s toothy smile was deemed insufficient to earn the laurel wreath. Best of all, the grinning do-gooders declined to give the gong to the WHO, the organisation that sanctioned the lethal lockdowns that Sweden alone, in the West, had the good sense to ignore.

This wasn’t the only sign that common sense might be starting to prevail. The WHO’s special envoy on Covid, Dr David Nabarro, told The Spectator chairman Andrew Neil on the newly launched Spectator TV that ‘we in the WHO do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,’ because they may well result in a doubling of world poverty and child malnutrition. Nabarro was the UK’s candidate to be Director-General of the WHO and his intervention highlighted how differently the pandemic would have been managed had he been in charge.

WHO representative Gauden Galea noted on 23 January that in locking down 57 million people, China was embarking on a risky experiment that had never before been tried. That didn’t deter WHO Director General ‘Red Ted’ Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who, a week later, praised China for ‘setting a new standard for outbreak response.’ In fact, it was Taiwan that set a new standard in rapidity, transparency and competence but senior WHO officials refuse to even mention the country by name. Instead, by 24 February, a WHO-China Joint Covid-19 Mission said China’s lockdown provided ‘vital lessons for the global response,’ and on 11 July the WHO said more lockdowns might be ‘the only option.’

Yet eminent health experts decry lockdowns, including professors Sunetra Gupta, Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff of Oxford, Stanford and Harvard universities, who penned the Great Barrington Declaration. They want government to protect the vulnerable and allow healthy people to protect themselves. They argue that lockdowns harm all aspects of health; cardiovascular disease, cancer, HIV/Aids, mental illness, even of those they try to help. Last week, Colorado residents of a nursing home protested their lockdown, waving signs that read, ‘I’d rather die of Covid than loneliness’. In Victoria, demand for mental health services in the last two months increased 31 per cent, compared to last year, three times higher than the national average. Global suicide rates are up from less than 794,000 in 2017 to more than 844,000 so far this year.

The declaration has been signed by almost half a million people from Nobel laureates to those seeking to discredit the initiative with names such as Mr Banana Rama, Dr Johnny Fartpants, and Professor Notaf Uckingclue. Critics, including predictably, the WHO director-general, claim that the declaration will lead to an unacceptably high number of deaths in pursuit of community immunity, without acknowledging that it merely advocates a strategy already pursued by Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Sweden, with no excess mortality. This would of course be reduced even further with the use of medicines and vitamin supplements as demonstrated by Trump, who was dancing on a podium at a mass rally in Florida, this week, to the tune of the Village People’s ‘It’s fun to stay at the YMCA,’ only ten days after being hospitalised.

Now that the WHO — at least Nabarro — has called for an end to lockdowns, who will be Hiroo Onoda, the last government to surrender to the science? The UK government is still committed to introducing its new tiered ‘traffic light’ lockdown but with one MP already resigning over the policy it seems there will be more tiers before bedtime and Boris may well backflip.

Elsewhere, the judiciary is coming to the rescue. Michigan’s Supreme Court has ordered that the governor’s lockdown be rescinded immediately. A Madrid court has blocked an order to lock down the capital because it impinged on residents’ basic freedoms. Other European governments are toying with measures that seem as halfhearted as they are halfwitted, such as early closing of bars. Yet while New York and New Jersey must vie for the most lethal lockdowns in the world, with around 1,800 deaths per million, Victoria appears to be going for the Guinness Book of Records with the longest lockdown since the siege of Stalingrad.

No government has been more ambitious than Victoria in its attempts to avoid responsibility. Leading from the rear, Premier Daniel Andrews was the twelfth member of his cabinet and senior executive to be struck by amnesia at his own inquiry. It was like a 1960s TV comedy, either Hogan’s Heroes with a whole platoon of Sergeant Schultzes, or Get Smart with Victoria’s top public servant — Chris Eccles — repeatedly telling the inquiry what he didn’t know, secure he must have thought that, like Maxwell Smart, he couldn’t be fired because he knew too much. Yet when he was forced, thanks to brilliant probing by Sky News Australia’s Peta Credlin, to hand over his phone records, he resigned the same day.

The premier’s porky pies are even more obvious. He claimed that he did not know that the prime minister had offered the Australian Defence Force to provide security for hotel quarantine even though he thanked the PM for the offer on national television. He says he has no knowledge of how private security had been put in charge of guarding the hotels, that he was kept in the dark, that he couldn’t find out even when he asked and that this was why he called an inquiry. It seems not to have occurred to him that whether he knew or not, the buck stopped with him and that not knowing what was going on is far worse than making a bad decision and correcting it.

Andrews’ Houdini-esque attempts to dodge liability are matched only by the insouciance of Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton. Asked whether the targets he had set for the state to be released from lockdown could ever be attained, Sutton asked dreamily, ‘Who knows?’ as if it didn’t really matter whether Victorians were ever freed from home detention. This week a bus drove up to Victoria’s parliament with a sign that demanded, ‘Let us out’ and ‘Sack Andrews,’ but the premier still seems to be impervious to such pleas. If he has his way, he will be the last Dan standing and when he leaves there will be nothing left to do for the Victorian economy except to switch out the lights.

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