Grand Final weekend sees a huge surge in case numbers and civil disobedience. The impact of this is not over yet. Case numbers could be 2000 in a week.

When numbers grew from 730 on Grand Final day to 1430 on Thursday, you begin to wonder what sort of examples people need to reinforce the message that parties, street-gatherings and barbecues are disastrous super-spreader events.

Or is it that there is a section of the community whose antisocial behaviour is so deeply entrenched that nothing will change it and this section of the community will now jeopardise 18 months of sacrifice by the majority of the community.

It’s frightening that this is the impact of a small number of idiots when we have close to 50% full vaccination.

Will things be any better when we get to 80% of full vaccination of the eligible adult population? They will probably be worse.

Because we may be seeing the beginning of the pandemic of the unvaccinated.

It’s a chilling thought. But at 80%, there will still be 9 million unvaccinated people in Australia. And we can probably expect this section of the population to contain the actively civil disobedience.

At present, Victoria is heading in the wrong direction in terms of case numbers.

Victoria has close to 80% first vaccination with 50% fully vaccinated and the time between Pfizer has been who shortened to 4 weeks. So we should be at 80% fully vaccinated eligible adult population by the end of November and may be on the way towards having a good proportion of the school population vaccinated.

Victoria and NSW come out of lockdown: two different roads, two different results

It is now clear that New South Wales and Victoria are taking different roads out of lockdown.

NSW has taken, what has appeared to be, a far more relaxed and flexible approach. The lockdown has been severe in some LGAs, not so in others. In Melbourne, where the geographic spread has been similar, the lockdown has been a blanket.

Significantly, NSW will not be using vaccines passports unlike Victoria. Premier Daniel Andrews has made it clear the the unvaccinated will not enjoy the same freedoms as the fully vaccinated, there will be a wide-ranging course with explanation will be compulsory: teaching, nursing, construction,

It’s going to be a political and social nightmare. One which is not going to occur in NSW. but there will be other consequences

Nonetheless. at the moment the results speak for themselves. No one would argue that New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has done particularly good job of handling the pandemic crisis but the results are looking particularly good at the moment.

Melbourne is emerging from its 6th lockdown with its second big pandemic still surging. Sydney has had two lockdowns.

Its second lockdown not was not as severe as Melbourne’s. Case numbers escalated rapidly. Melbourne’s severe stage IV lockdown suppressed numbers through July and August but in September, they began to escalate.

Now the graph lines have crossed over. if these numbers represent a pattern, then Victoria can expect at least a month before it reaches the point where NSW is now.

Then there are the vaccination rates.

On current progress, NSW will reach 80% double vaccination of the eligible adult population well before Victoria and it may even go well beyond that.

With his insistence on vaccine mandates for the construction industry, Daniel Andrews has a tiger by the tail. He will have great difficulty enforcing such a mandate in small businesses and cafés.

He may well have backed himself into a corner that he may not be able to punch his way out of. all

How public policy can become counterintuitive

We hear a lot about the counterintuitive effects of public policy.

This is a simple example of how it happens.

The dynamic in this Causal Loop Diagram is that an increase in Covid Cases increases the level of Lockdown Restrictions. As Lockdown Restrictions increase Covid Cases decline.

It’s called a balancing loop. The restrictions are designed to bring the code cases into balance. The original plan was to get to zero cases.

That was the mental model of every CMO in Australia.

This is the dynamic.

Flattening the curve

But nothing ever goes to plan.

What was designed to be a balancing group turned into a reinforcing loop.

In fact, it wasn’t that simple.

It has now become obvious set that a combination of factors, namely the virulence of the Delta virus and the ineffectual nature of the lockdown restrictions in certain sections of the community have meant that lockdown, as a tool, has not been effective in curbing Covid cases.

For some, understanding cause and effect is difficult in these pandemic times.

In the laboratory, cause and effect are established by removing all but one possible cause to establish an effect. In social settings, it is not possible to establish a workable causal hypothesis with such certainty because we live in a multi-causational world.

The technique is to provide a plausible narrative, or causal hypothesis, based on the best scientific knowledge available and then seek agreement from the best experts in the field.

An important part of controlling a pandemic is establishing credible narratives in the mind of the public. This is what politicians and health experts strive to do.

In a pandemic, the plausible narrative is that a virus spreads through frequent human contacts: family contacts and high-frequency social contacts. We would term these Spreader Events.

The other part of the narrative is various strains of the virus spread different rates.

We have seen the emergence of interesting dynamic which is described in this Causal Loop Diagram (CLD). You can read a brief tutorial on CLDs at How to read a Causal Loop Diagram (CLD)

The way this dynamic unfolds is shown in the graphic below.

In Melbourne, there have been repeated examples of protesters gathering in relatively large groups. These groups ignore all the recognised rules for minimising the spread of Covid-19. Consequently, they will be serving to spread the virus.

In the meantime, Victoria case numbers are increasing exponentially.

This does not mean that the protests are the only cause of rises in case numbers. They will be one of a complex series of causation factors. The protests can be one important link in the causal chain. Breaking the link could be an important step.

How many doses will Australia need to reach the magical 80%? What happens next?

We are close to 80% first dose and we are 50% fully vaccinated.

This graphic shows an Eligible population of 20.6 million. That means people over 19.

But the graphic doesn’t tell the whole story.

This is what the whole story looks like.

Figures change on a daily basis, but for Australia to reach 80% of the eligible population roughly 1.4 million people need a first shot. That’s the blue bar in the graph

Indications are that should occur within a week.

Then just over 7.5 million people and doses for 80% of the population to be fully vaccinated. That’s the orange and blue bars in the graph

This is the schedule that the government and Pfizer have agreed will be the arrival of Pfizer doses in Australia. It’s so total of 37m.

We can assume that the 10 million doses that arrived in February this year were all used up.

What we don’t know is what proportion of the 15 million doses of Pfizer that arrived in August and September have been used up. There had been indications that Pfizer supply is problematic once again.

We don’t know how many people have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca but the numbers will have been increasing and 300,000 doses of Moderna have arrived in late September.

Worst case is Australia will need 7.5m doses Pfizer November and December, well within its allocation of 12m.

That will leave 4.5m Pfizer doses in addition to Moderna in 2021.

The bad news Is that Australia goes into 2022 with 9.5 million people unvaccinated.

The first vast majority of these will be school children who will be mixing together and transmitting the virus and then taking it home to their unvaccinated parents.

One of New Zealand’s great Rugby players, Waka Nathan has died.

I remember watching him play when I was at school in the 1960s. He played for Otahuhu, Auckland, and the All Blacks with fellow All Black, Mac Herewini. In those days, he was a breakaway or loose forward. One of the really great players of his time.

He was a member of the All Blacks tour of Britain in 1963-64, despite having a broken jaw, where he scored 11 tries in 15 matches and earned the nickname Le Panthère Noir – The Black Panther – from the French. The NZ Herald.

in one period, he played 14 games for the All Blacks for 14 straight wins. In those days, there were fewer games than in modern times. Players like Meads and Nathan would only play 30 international tests In their career.

Waka Nathan in action for the All Blacks during the 1962 tour of Australia. Photo / NZ Herald

Inevitably, comparisons are made between the teams of the 1960s and the teams of the modern era. The picture above shows Nathan is not as strongly built as modern players.

If he was standing next to Richie McCaw, they would be about the same size, but McCaw would be 20 kg heavier. If Waka’s teammate, the legendary Colin Meads was standing next to Brodie Retallick, Meads would be slightly shorter, but Retallick would be 20 kg heavier.

The game has changed also. It’s much faster and there is greater continuity as a result of the ball staying in play much longer. The players need to be much fitter and much stronger. They are also full-time, well-paid and professional. Colin Mead was a farmer with his brother Stan who locked with him in the All Blacks. They played rugby on over the weekends.

Waka Nathan. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The NZ Herald Reports a famous incident

Nathan is well remembered for scoring a last-minute try against Canterbury to set up his teammate Mike Cormack to convert the try and retain the Ranfurly Shield in a game that finished 19-18 in 1960.

I was at that game. What the NZ Herald does not report was that Waka had given away a free kick straight in front of the posts to put Canterbury ahead 18 -14. In those days, you got three points for try and two for a conversion. Auckland needed a converted try in the dying minutes of the game to retain the Ranfurly shield.

I remember seeing Waka standing, defiant and glaring at the Canterbury kicker. it didn’t work.

After the game, in an interview with the press, Waka said, (words to this effect) “I knew I had to do something about this, otherwise we were going to lose the shield.”

The Ranfurly Shield was the only game in town, so this was a big deal.

The Ranfurly Shield was the major rugby competition in New Zealand between the provinces.

The province that held the shield, had to defend it every time it played, but you only got an opportunity to win the Ranfurly Shield when you played the province that held it. The opportunity came around rarely.

In the 1960s, Auckland, my side and the side Waka played for, Auckland held the shield for a record 26 matches between 1960 and 1960.

Losing the shield on this particular day was the worst possible thing that could occur in a rugby-playing teenage boy’s life.

By some miracle, the Gods of Rugby smiled on Wake Nathan that day and he entered rugby immortality, well, he was forgiven for conceding a penalty in front of the posts in the final minutes of shield defence.

Schools are going back. Can parents expect teachers to be fully vaccinated? Can parents expect parents to be fully vaccinated before they can send their children to school?

There are going to be some interesting questions arising with the return of children and preschoolers to schools and daycare.

These settings will be breeding grounds for coronavirus. The levels of interaction between school children and preschoolers will be exceptionally high.

There are no vaccines yet approved for this age group.

The Minister of Education James Merlino has already indicated that all teachers will be need to be fully vaccinated by the beginning of November. We shouldn’t expect it to be plain sailing

Nurses have no difficulty with the concept of mandatory vaccination.They see the results of unvaccinated people everyday in their working life. For them it’s a no-brainer.

We can only hope the same applies in education.

A more interesting question arises in the case of the parents children returning to school. Will it be acceptable for unvaccinated parents to send their children to schools or preschools?

Will the children of fully vaccinated parents have the right to insist that their children be in fully vaccinated classrooms? And that children of unvaccinated parents should be in “unvaccinated classrooms”?

Would such a position lead to segregation in the playground?

These are hard questions.

We will soon have to weigh the relative rights of the vaccinated and unvaccinated, particularly in the classrooms.

Given the troubled history of the Collins class submarine and now the French Naval group, it’s surprising Australia is still trying to build submarines.

The history of the building of the Collins Class was a disaster with problems with the combat system, excessive noise, and engine breakdowns were recurring and appeared across the entire class.

It took nearly 20 years after the boats came into service, before more 2 of the fleet was operational at any one time.

A Collins Class submarine

And no one seem terribly worried about that for nearly 20 years. Now suddenly national security and submarines are on the front pages.

This is because Scott Morrison has ditched the French Naval Group which was building the replacement for the Collins class in favour of a nuclear powered option the UK and US governments will be sharing and which will also be built in Australia.

No consideration has been given to the fact that Australia doesn’t have the industrial infrastructure to build nuclear powered submarines. it’s a minor point.

But we shouldn’t delude ourselves. Here’s a list of the top ten submarines in the world

  • Nr.1 Seawolf class (USA) … 
  • Nr.2 Virginia class (USA) … 
  • Nr.3 Astute class (United Kingdom) … 
  • Nr.4 Graney class (Russia) … 
  • Nr.5 Sierra II class (Russia) … 
  • Nr.6 Improved Los Angeles class (USA) … 
  • Nr.7 Akula class (Russia) … 
  • Nr.8 Soryu class (Japan)
  • Nr.9 Ohio class (USA)
  • Nr.10 Oscar II class (Russia)

It will be interesting to see if the Americans or the British give the Australians any of their top ranked submarines.

There’s been considerable tension between Australian government and the naval group over quality issues, local content, all the normal suspects and enough for the Australian government to pull the plug.

The French government is understandably outraged. No doubt they will find some way of retaliating.

But Morrison thinks he is clearly ahead on points in terms of local politics. He has put submarines (and coincidentally himself) on the front page of newspapers

He looks as if he is making Australia a safer place by building some locally-built, nuclear-powered submarines that will be ready by 2040.

Which is absolute nonsense. The Collins class will remain in operation until well into the late 2030s.

So what’s the difference between what we’ve got and what were going to get.

The Collins class is a diesel electric submarine and the new one will be nuclear powered which means essentially it’s much more difficult to detect. Neither of these submarine classes will be carrying nuclear weapons.

The main role of the submarine is to engage the other submarines and other surface vessels. It has an important but minor role in naval warfare.

A nuclear-armed submarine can launch missiles against land-based targets. They are the ones that we should be worried about.

How many people in Australia have actually been vaccinated?

Here is the progress report.

Are we now waiting for 72% of the eligible adult population to get a second dose of vaccine?

When you look at the figures that’s the first impression. But it’s probably wrong.

That’s 11.5 million people. The numbers important because there are only 10 million Pfizer vaccines arriving in November and December.

October will be a lean month for vaccines in Australia

But is that is what the figures really mean?

Surely the first dose group must include the fully vaccinated group. They can’t be separate because together the make up more than 100% of the population.

Or do we take a fully vaccinated group out of the eligible population and then calculate the first dose group.

Eligible Population16000000
Fully vaccinated (47%)7520000
Unvaccinated8480000
First Shot (72%)6105600

And there will be enough Pfizer are arriving in November and December to meet that demand.

It will be done in November and December, so don’t hold your breath on going to the Melbourne Cup.

We have lost some superstars and international rugby risks being as interesting as watching the grass grow

The All Blacks won again but wasn’t particularly exciting, particularly Australia’s defeat of South Africa which must have been particularly galling for the Springboks.

The All Blacks would have been pleased with the depth of talent in their squad by playing their third combination and bringing significant changes off the bench in the second half. 

Australians have now beaten the South Africans twice and the ABs have accounted for them reasonably easily. So does being a very exciting competition.

Nonetheless Rugby has got to be more exciting since when I was a kid when there were endless scrums and rucks and players kept catching the ball into touch. Test matches would often be won or lost 6-3.

Watching the games is becoming increasingly obvious that the difference between Rugby league and Rugby Union is becoming increasingly small. Particularly where the defence is structured

This is no bad thing for Rugby Union. Rule changes over the last decades have made a game faster and more attractive. In particular the ball comes free after the tackle much more quickly and the potential for attacking rugby is much greater.

But so also is the need for rocksolid defence and players who can tackle well.

But watching the games and the strength of the defence, particularly the All Black defence, I’m struck by the fact that there are no players in the southern hemisphere teams equal to these particular champions.

Tana Umunga

Ma’a Nonu
Sonny Bill Williams

Significantly, all played at inside centre. All were big, especially SBW, fast and had a particular talent for breaking the defence. Williams in particular have a rare talent for unloading the ball.

There is no one in the current Southern Hemisphere teams was this talent. It’s a pity.

Perhaps is able to emulate their style of play because strength of the opposition defence.

Watching the All Black attack is very much based not upon a spearhead like one of these three, but upon any one of 15 making a small break and then having three or four players in immediate support. No opposition team yet has found a defensive pattern that is able to counter this attacking pattern which often comes after a number of successive phases of play.

It’s also based on another fundamental of All Black selection: every player has to be able to run and handle like a back. No player personifies is better than hooker Dane Coles has scored a number of tries after receiving the ball while standing on the wing.

Is anyone old enough to remember the Auckland back row forward Albie Prior? A man before his time, he was playing this style of football in the early 1960s and was generally mocked and ridiculed for it.