This means of course that the ‘go hard, go early’ strategy is the better strategy to prevent overwhelming health systems. New Zealand is doing this and if Western Australia does, too (it easily could), they will enable freedom of movement within their borders earlier, but border control will have to be ramped up and intensified later in the year, NOT relaxed.
The theory is, keep natural herd immunity low until a vaccine is developed. This would mean fewer deaths.
However, the larger continents have gone beyond the point where low herd immunity seems achievable. Therefore, they may reach a point of high enough herd immunity to be able to come out of lockdown before a vaccine becomes widely available.
What this means is that island nations such as New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, possibly Australia and other places that have ‘gone hard, early’, will end up spending some time behind an Seclusion Curtain. It will be necessary for these out-lying nation states to retain stricter travel restrictions from the large continents until they can vaccinate their populations.
The die is now being cast that will see the world divide into two camps; low herd immunity and high herd immunity zones. Let’s call them the Pristine Lands and the Wild West.
Asian Pristine Lands such as Taiwan led the way. Forbes Policy reports, ‘Taiwan, which is not part of the World Health Organization (WHO), decided to screen all passengers from Wuhan starting on Dec. 31, the same day it learned of the then-unknown virus in the Chinese city.’ ‘Fear of China made Taiwan a success story’, it says.
Presumably international travel will resume earlier in the Wild West. Pristine Lands like New Zealand will be ‘islands’ of low herd immunity and therefore vulnerable to foreign contagion. They will have to have stricter, more vigilant boarder protection from the time things return to normal in the Wild West until an effective vaccine is developed and mass produced.
What will this mean for trade and travel?
Coronavirus has hit globalization for sixer. The nation states have come back in a big way and are saving the more opportunistic ‘global citizens’ from themselves. No more the care-free globe-trotters and world travellers, those most disconnected to their place of origin and current locale are in the biggest pickle. Their more tenuous access to facilities such as housing, income and medical treatment leave them more vulnerable in foreign lands. Those without savings or family support are in danger of being stranded in destitution. The price of opportunism has proven to be a big gamble that hasn’t paid off. Different countries will treat foreigners differently, but here Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s message to international students is, “It’s time to go home”.
The Seclusion Curtain will affect people more than products, so trade in goods should be able to continue. Tourism and the export education industry will be hard hit in the Pristine Lands. Local manufacturing has been harnessed and supported to produce medical equipment (PPE, ventilators, testing equipment and vaccines) – there is a mad scramble for these and scarcity breeds insecurity. This appears to have some federal ministers talking (reference needed) about the pandemic leading to a long term return of manufacturing to Australia. The pandemic has brought home a message that local reliance and self sufficiency leads to resilience and security. Perhaps Australia will follow the USA’s lead and reclaim its manufacturing sector from the grip of, among others, the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda of world domination, with the help of automation.
Characteristics that correlate with a Pristine Land is the relative population size of the nation; the smaller it is the more likely it is to attempt eradication rather than suppression. Geographical size of the nation correlates similarly. Social divisiveness as opposed to cohesiveness steers a nation toward the Wild West. The nature of its borders matter. If they are natural barriers such as Australia’s moat, they lend themselves to easier border control. The political borders dividing Europe up do not play out this way. How centrally controlled a nation is may give authorities more leeway to eradicate, for example China is likely to have the best chance of geing the biggest Pristine Land.
Studies (reference needed) of past epidemics show that where communities ‘own’ the problem and work together to overcome it, success is much greater than in populations that are subject to top-down, government coercion.
It is useful to be educated and literate in basic virus epidemiology in order to have personal agency.
To that end, I provide a list below of terms that everyone should know, which checked out with a general medical practitioner friend, but who wished not to be identified.
The estimates shown here about how COVID19 behaves is based on the new study of Chinese data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Herd immunity – enough of a population being immune to a disease that the disease cannot travel through it. COVID19 = R0 (reproduction number, pronounced “R nought”, refers to how many people a single infected person will infect in a population) 2.2 to about 5.7. With the lower number (an earlier estimate from China), only 55% of a population needs to be immune from
COVID-19 to stop its spread through herd immunity. With an R0 of 5.7, approximately 82% of the population needs to be. The higher number is what this new study (see link) is seeing.
Incubation period – the time from being exposed to the virus and developing symptoms, COVID19 = an average of 4.2 days, but can be up to 14 days.
Latent period – how long it takes for a person exposed to the virus to become contagious, COVID19 = presymptomatic transmissions can occur a week before symptoms appear, so the latent period is less than 4.2 days on average. COVID19 appears to be very contagious early on compared to other viruses; before symptoms appear and WHEN they appear, declining thereafter.
Infection period – how long an infected person is contagious, COVID19 = said to be 1-3 weeks AFTER symptom onset, but combined with the presymptomatic transmission data, this must be extended to a week BEFORE symptom onset. Evidence from the study suggests COVID19 is especially contagious just before and after the onset of symptoms.
Quarantine – for asymptomatic people who may have been exposed to the virus
Isolation – for people known to be infected
Just to be clear, the 14-day quaratine period has been chosen because the incubation period is rarely longer than 14 days, i.e. in that time almost everybody who contracted the infection will have manifested symptoms. People who remain completely asymptomatic, or whose symptoms are so mild that they don’t get recognised as COVID-19-related, are difficult to account for. Mild cases are likely to develop immunity sooner than sicker people, and may not be contagious any more after 14 days, but that is not the reason for the commonly adopted 14-day period of quarantine. Note of course the recommended 14 day self isolation or quarantine period must be extended if symptoms appear, until the infectious period is over, recovering at home, or in hospital… As the person recovers, the virus becomes less contagious.