Sumary of Delta is tempting us to trade lives for freedoms — a choice it had looked like we wouldn’t have to make:
- On one side were people rightly horrified by its rapid spread who wanted us to stay at home and stay away from school and work and socialising in order to save lives.
- The concern about non-COVID deaths turned out to be overblown.
- Last year Australia recorded fewer than normal doctor-certified deaths, in part because the COVID restrictions stopped deaths from influenza, and in part because they snuffed out COVID-19 early, ensuring hospitals weren’t overwhelmed.
- The insurance company ClearView told a parliamentary committee this June its research found things were better than expected in part because of the universal nature of the pandemic.
- The consensus was that by locking down hard and early we got the best of both worlds — near-elimination of COVID-19 and a quick return to normal life.
- Anyone who remembers Christmas last year remembers how normal it felt.
- And without very high vaccination rates — in the view of the Grattan Institute significantly higher than either the NSW, Victorian or Commonwealth governments are targeting — it became all but impossible to reopen without condemning Australians to COVID deaths.
- The new reality is plunging us back toward the territory economists call their own — the world of hard choices.