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.

Sonny Bill Williams
Ma’a Nonu
Tana Umunga

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.

This is what a roadmap out of lockdown may need to look like

There are going to be some hard and unpleasant choices that will need to be made.

One of the most difficult will be the level of vaccination for reopening the economy. Like it or not, the 80% of the adult population would appear to be the benchmark. It’s highly risky but with a massive vaccination drive based on the arrival of Moderna, it may work.

Ironically, there will also be some sacrifice of Civil Liberties that will come with the identifying of people who are fully vaccinated.

The irony rests in the fact that the fully vaccinated will have access to a greater range of services and freedoms than the unvaccinated.

Identification of vaccination status can be done through an iPhone, credit card or through some physical identification, like a driving license.

The advantages of a credit card is that it will allow people to make purchases for cinemas, large sporting events, airline and train tickets online. Any situations which lead to people being in relatively crowded situations, vaccination status becomes an issue.

The logistics of these forms of identification (as well as the civil liberties issues) are significant. But we are going to be living in a very different world and some of our cherished beliefs are going to be held up and examined.

The first of these will be whether people who decide not to be vaccinated can continue enjoy the same freedoms and privileges as those who do. The answer to that is not going to be black-and-white but rather more nuanced.

This is what it may look like.

1) Retail, Pubs, Hairdressers etc

All shops, hotels, restaurants, gyms, hairdressers will need to advertise their vaccination status. Some will decide to have staff fully vaccinated and require their customers to be fully vaccinated also. Others will choose not to require that of staff or customers.

Everyone will be able to make a choice at the door. Vaccination status will advertised at the point of entry. If you enter illegally, your phone could sound a warning and then be disabled or your credit card could be disabled.

If you are fully vaccinated, you can go into an unvaccinated venue if you wish, but not the other way around.

It could work quite well. All vaccinated people go out together, sit together and stay well . All the unvaccinated people go up together and sit together and get sick. Darwin at work.

2) Cinemas, Theatres Sporting Events

All of these will require patrons book online and to do this they need to have fully vaccinated status on their credit cards. Non-vaccinated patrons can view the events on television.

3) Gymnasiums and swimming pools

Each local government authority will make the decision on whether their swimming pools and gymnasiums will have staff who are fully vaccinated and whether the clientele will need to demonstrate vaccination status to be able to use the facilities. This information will need to be public.

Private gymnasiums and swimming pools can make these decisions according to the way they see their market.

4) Schools

All schools will reopen when national criteria are met.

All teachers and auxiliary staff will be fully vaccinated and wear masks at all times.

All pupils over the age of 16 will be fully vaccinated.

Parents will need to drop their children off at the gate.

I’m sure I haven’t covered everything.

Please leave a comment.

The All Blacks go into the second International against Argentina with the C team.

They played the B team against Argentina last weekend and won 39 -0 which qualifies as a fairly major thumping. There is probably nobody in the All Black camp who would say the team played particularly well.

But the All Blacks are playing the long game and they know there are a lot of games to be played yet so they need to circulate the players and give them time on the field. So here is the team for Saturday.

Not to say there aren’t some big names there. Joe Moody, all the Barretts, Savea, Ioane, McKenzie, Perenara. So there’s a bit of luxury in resting some other big names with the game against South Africa coming up.

And there will be some young blokes keen to prove themselves.

If this team can come anywhere near matching the performance of last week, the coaching staff will be very pleased.

As experienced coaches know, at the end of a long campaign and a season of injuries, you are only as good as the team you can put on the field.

Dummies Guide to a modelling a Covid-19 Rollout: Part 2.

The first stage of the model showed a population of 5 million receiving a two-dose vaccine over two years with priority going to administering the first dose. 

The model showed that after two years, 4.65 million people were vaccinated and 340,000 remained unvaccinated. The vaccination uptake was 20% of the unvaccinated population receiving their first jab each month and becoming available for the second within two months.

The second iteration of the model shows an outbreak of Covid-19 in the first month of the rollout. It sent shockwaves through the population and the vaccination rate roses from 20% to 50%.

The graph on the right shows the progress without shock. It takes two years before the population reaches 4.6m vaccinated people. That is 92% and most people would be happy that with that outcome, even if it did take two years.

The right-hand graph shows the impact of a Covid outbreak, which shakes the population out of its complacency. First, notice the early jump in the population with one jab (blue line). This results in a rapid fall in the unvaccinated population and a rapid rise in the population with two jabs.

The residual vaccinated population in the left-hand graph is almost certainly more realistic. However, experience in Australia shows that vaccination rates are increasing as a result of Covid infections and lockdowns.

Then everything goes pear-shaped.

Early clinical information about the government’s preferred vaccine indicates risks of blood clotting in certain age groups. The chances are low, but several countries, which have secure supplies of other vaccines, call a halt to the administration of the only vaccine the Australian government has access to.

Health Authorities recommend that the vaccine should not be used for people under 60 until new advice is received on the risks of blood clotting. The take-up rate of the vaccine drops from 30% to 5%. Worldwide demand means no new vaccine supply will be available within 12 months.

Projections indicate that the rollout will be stalled for the next 24 months, with only those prepared to accept the low risk of blood clotting being vaccinated. 

After 24 months, modelling suggests that roughly half the population will be fully vaccinated if the health authorities do not clear the current vaccine.

After 12 months, the government is able to secure supplies of a new vaccine, which does not have the associated clotting risks. Once that becomes available, vaccine hesitancy appears to have been overcome.

The impact of the population with one jab can now be seen. As first movers, they were influential in getting people vaccinated, but the news of the problems with blood clotting slowed vaccination rates. When a new vaccine arrived shortly after 16 months, vaccination rates jumped again.

Under all scenarios in this model, the population is vaccinated within two years.

There are some assumptions in this model that may not be true in the real world. These can be simulated in the model.

It is possible to model scenarios where there are supply shortages and logistics problems.

The big elephant in the room is what will happen while it takes two years to reach 80% vaccination.

Dummies’ guide to Covid rollout Part 1

We often hear reference to modelling done in universities or research centres. This modelling is important because it is the basis of important policy decisions.

This is a Dummies Guide to help the curious understand one of the more simple methods used to build these models. The model has a simple set of images that represent the computer code that drives the model. It is a computer simulation model using System Dynamics. 

The model is of an Australian state with an adult population of 5 million people. The vaccine is a two-dose vaccine. The government is ordered 500,000 doses each month for two years and prioritised the first dose.

To start, it helps to think of a series of bathtubs filled by a series of pipes which are controlled by a series of taps. Each series of bathtubs contains stuff: in our case: people and vaccines,

The Dummies Guide model for a vaccine rollout using this system would start out looking like this. The members of the unvaccinated population receive their first jab and move on to the population with a first jab. Some remain behind in the unvaccinated population. Members of the Population was 1 Jab receive a second jab and move on to the population with two Jabs.

The Unvaccinated Population flows into the population with 1 Jab through the flow entitled First Jab. The same dynamic applies to the population with the Second jab.  

This is possible because of another associated Co-flow. There Is a supply of Vaccines. They accumulate in a warehouse or vaccination hub according to the demand generated by the first and second jabs.

The government endeavours to match the supply of vaccine with the anticipated demand. But they are also constrained by the amount that they can order from overseas. So they decided to order 500,000 doses per month.

There is now a dynamic interaction between three populations and the stock vaccine. The Unvaccinated Population generates a demand for a 1st Jab. Not all of the Unvaccinated Population will want to get vaccinated and some may wait to get vaccinated.

The unvaccinated population declines over time, while the population with two jabs increases. The population with one jab increases but at a declining rate over time. This is because people are just passing through this population on their way to the population with two jabs. The numbers are smaller over time because the unvaccinated population is declining.

After two years there is still a residual unvaccinated population.The government priority was for first jabs. This meant there was no waiting for the first jab, but it took fully two years before the second jab was delivered to the total population.

The full model generated this data is very simple. The next stage will be to model the impact of an outbreak of the virus and a lockdown.

How Australians can make sense of the vaccination supply numbers

These are some extracts from an article published in The Age: “What do the vaccine reopening targets mean and when are more doses coming?”

A careful reading can prove to be informative.

Stephen Duckett, a former federal health department secretary now at the Grattan Institute, is quick to point out that those 70 and 80 per cent vaccination targets since agreed by national cabinet leave out children, and so actually represent about 56 per cent of Australia’s total population of 25 million or so. “Children still spread the virus,” he says. “We still think you should get to 80 per cent of the entire population vaccinated before you throw out lockdowns and open borders.”

Dr Stephen Druckett BEc (ANU), MHA, DSc, PhD (UNSW), DBA (Bath), DipEd(Tert) (DDIAE), DipLegStud (La Trobe), FASSA FAHMS FAICD

Druckett Is absolutely correct to point out that is 56% of the total population.

That is problematic in terms of protection will provide.

Confusion with this arises from the definition of the adult population built into Scott Morrison’s definition of his targets for opening up the economy. It is based on the adult population being 80% of the total population. Morrison wants 80% of that population to be fully vaccinated. That’s about 14m people according to Duckett.

It is likely that by the time Australia reaches the target, no one is going to be terribly concerned about the technical details. There will just be relief to be out of lockdown. But that is probably likely to prove disastrous.

Then there are the numbers.

“And almost 8 million doses of the 40 million we’ve ordered for this year had been received. Exact supply numbers are usually only locked in four weeks in advance, when Pfizer confirms the final numbers being released that month. But General Frewen says Australia is working to bring the rest of those 32 million doses forward to more than 1 million arriving each week. According to his roll-out plan, we will have 5 million Pfizer doses to use in August, 4 million in September, 10 million in November and 6 million come December.”

But when you add up the numbers, they don’t add up.

40 – 8 = 32

32 million doses arriving at 1 million a week is eight months, which is March of 2022 for all the Pfizer doses to arrive.

But there appears to be another timetable: 5 million in August, 4 million in September, 10 million in November and 6 million in December equals 25 million. Not 32.

My modelling suggests that to reach the 80% goal nationally by Christmas Australia will need 33 million vaccine doses.

So then there is this piece of news.

“From September, the first of the 25 million Moderna doses on order will also begin arriving – 10 million is expected by December.”

Has now been approved for the same target groups as Pfizer.

What the news article doesn’t tell us is the rate at which these doses will be arriving and whether it will be fast enough to meet the 80% target by December.

Fitzroy Community School Principal Tim Berryman claims childrens’ voices are lost in the Covid debate and that he is speaking for them.

But are they

There has been no shortage of discussion and advocacy about the impact of school closures on children so he is only one voice amongst many.

As a school principal he is certainly entitled to speak for his community

Fitzroy Community School principal Tim Berryman on Monday.CREDIT:JUSTIN MCMANUS

But who gave him the mandate to infect 30 children and staff members with coronavirus?

Presumably the parents who send their kids to school and who knew what they were letting the kids in for.

What about the contacts of the Fitzroy Community School that is now a  a Tier 1 site and who were presumably not aware of what was going on?

Given the highly infectious nature of the Delta strain, this cluster is likely to have far-reaching ramifications for all of us.

But what he has done raises some very important issues for the education system in general.

The most important is the extent to which individuals are able to defy government regulation in terms of the administration of their specific organisation.

The matter is surfacing with increasing frequency. The practices of the building industry, the practices of religious groups and now the practice of this specific school. Individuals in charge of these organisations have made decisions that are in direct contravention of the regulations of the CMO.

Now it is crunch time.

Are people like Tim Berryman allowed to say “I know better than Brett Sutton.” and tell the parents of the kids at his school to send them along until (inevitably and expectedly) everybody gets infected.

Now should they be made public example that ensures that this behaviour does not occur again?

Or should the authorities simply shrug and say “Whatever.”

Because if something isn’t done to curb the Tim Berryman’s of this world, this behaviour will surface again and again with increasing frequency and rabidity.