Coronavirus: eradication or suppression?

Should we eradicate or suppress and learn to live with coronavirus?

  • Eradication

    Votes: 12 48.0%
  • Suppression

    Votes: 13 52.0%

  • Total voters
    25

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swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
7,574
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We seem to be at an unexpected crossroads in Australia.

We originally went the suppression route and were so successful at it (not withstanding latest stuff up and mini-spikes in Victoria), we are at a point where we could eradicate coronavirus in Australia.

What are the pros and cons? Should we go for eradication and at least get large parts of the domestic economy and everyday life up and running again?

Also, remember, we may never actually get a vaccine - it's not a given.

Vote and debate.
 

Hank Scorpion

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Daresay the results will skew heavily by state at the moment.

Suppression was the long-term strategy agreed, and the facts of the virus haven't changed. If it was judged as infeasible to continue lockdowns back in Mid-May when we were at single-digit daily caseloads, then I don't see how they can justify any mission creep when it would take an additional ~8 weeks just to get back to the position we were previously in.

Sucks for the states that have beaten it as it will eventually spread across borders. But even then, eradication as a strategy is so fragile. One more quarantine stuff-up, one missed case of community transmission and it demands heavy restrictions again to stop it getting out of control.
 

swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
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Daresay the results will skew heavily by state at the moment.

Suppression was the long-term strategy agreed, and the facts of the virus haven't changed. If it was judged as infeasible to continue lockdowns back in Mid-May when we were at single-digit daily caseloads, then I don't see how they can justify any mission creep when it would take an additional ~8 weeks just to get back to the position we were previously in.

Sucks for the states that have beaten it as it will eventually spread across borders. But even then, eradication as a strategy is so fragile. One more quarantine stuff-up, one missed case of community transmission and it demands heavy restrictions again to stop it getting out of control.
Agree, it would need massively improved quarantine regime. Perhaps moving away from using hotels in the middle of cities with staff that come and go easily. Isn't Christmas Island pretty much empty? ;)

I think our early success has been a mixed blessing for suppression. Our daily numbers are much lower than recovering European states (e.g. France 582, Italy 235, Germany 422) though there's always the threat of exponential growth and the need for continual devotion of resources to suppress new outbreaks. It means that any slight spike has our politicians running scared and getting belted by the media.

Either we have a mature conversation about living with coronavirus, what that means in terms of deaths etc. (unlikely given the state of national debate) or we try and kill this thing once and for all, and get back to a normal way of life.
 

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Dogs_R_Us

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May 3, 2001
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Hard quarantine for those entering Australia. If it's good enough for the Flemington flats, it's good enough for returning residents and visitors.
The other thing is the thing hangs around. People can have it with no symptoms. People can have it for many months. Some test positive, negative, positive... just look at that Essendon player from Ireland.

I think the authorities are skittish about every single case because they really don’t know how it spreads. Suppression is all they can try for, so far.
 

swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
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The other thing is the thing hangs around. People can have it with no symptoms. People can have it for many months. Some test positive, negative, positive... just look at that Essendon player from Ireland.

I think the authorities are skittish about every single case because they really don’t know how it spreads. Suppression is all they can try for, so far.
Maybe it's more hard suppression / almost eradication. Without it, people aren't going to feel confident doing the things the government wants them to do to get the economy moving.

Look at the difference between life in WA versus like in Victoria.
 

Caesar

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Mar 3, 2005
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I don’t think eradication is really a viable strategy outside smaller states.

Suppressing the virus enough to keep contact tracing effective seems to be allowing things to open up reasonably well in NSW and Queensland.

Any discussion is academic if we have more stuff-ups like Victoria though.
 

swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
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I don’t think eradication is really a viable strategy outside smaller states.

Suppressing the virus enough to keep contact tracing effective seems to be allowing things to open up reasonably well in NSW and Queensland.

Any discussion is academic if we have more stuff-ups like Victoria though.
Don't think population size is relevant - NZ 4.9 million, Victoria 6.3 million. Not that different. Or Vietnam, 90 million. It's about government deciding to do it and following through, rather than being swayed by naysayers.

Small anecdote of benefits: friend who shares house with an actor in Melbourne. Actor off to NZ because their film industry is opening up again. Some of it is already planned productions (LOTR etc.), some is also US production that isn't going to happen any time soon.

Eradication would not only give us a chance to get to 'normal' but also a massive advantage over our economic competitors. Take film industry and apply to, say, international student and research.

The problem is that governments are thinking about getting back to the way we were, rather than thinking about what we could be and how to use this moment to get there.
 

Caesar

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Don't think population size is relevant - NZ 4.9 million, Victoria 6.3 million. Not that different. Or Vietnam, 90 million. It's about government deciding to do it and following through, rather than being swayed by naysayers.
I didn’t say anything about population size. It is about global connectedness.

Much easier for WA or Tasmania to lock off their borders than Victoria or NSW. Melbourne and Sydney are global cities in a way that Auckland and Perth are not.

Eradication would cost a lot of money to achieve, would be very easy to break once created, and would require substantially cutting ourselves off from much of the world.
 

swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
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I didn’t say anything about population size. It is about global connectedness.

Much easier for WA or Tasmania to lock off their borders than Victoria or NSW. Melbourne and Sydney are global cities in a way that Auckland and Perth are not.

Eradication would cost a lot of money to achieve, would be very easy to break once created, and would require substantially cutting ourselves off from much of the world.
We've already cut ourselves off from most of the world. If we continue with suppression, that's going to happen anyway. Forget our international tourism sector - that's dead either way.

With eradication, we'd get our domestic economy up and running again rather than a pattern of open, shut, open, shut with uncertainty driving businesses into the ground. We'd also be open for some, carefully managed international movement (e.g. students coming here, supervised quarantine and then benefitting from higher education).

Think different.
 

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Caesar

Ex-Huckleberry
Mar 3, 2005
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We've already cut ourselves off from most of the world. If we continue with suppression, that's going to happen anyway.
To the contrary, all indications globally are that countries that are managing suppression are gradually opening up to each other. See Scandinavia and the Baltic, for example. It is countries with uncontrolled spread and those who have committed to eradication being left out in the cold.

With eradication, we'd get our domestic economy up and running again rather than a pattern of open, shut, open, shut with uncertainty driving businesses into the ground. We'd also be open for some, carefully managed international movement (e.g. students coming here, supervised quarantine and then benefitting from higher education).
Eradication does not guarantee that you can avoid shutdowns unless you completely close off your economy (and therefore disease entry points) to the outside. Quarantine does not catch 100% of cases, so in the long run you will still have disease getting into the country. Resetting to eliminate in those situations is also potentially far more disruptive than the gradual squeezing of the brakes required in a suppression strategy.

NSW and Queensland are proving that heavily controlled suppression whilst opening up the economy can work. Both have progressed steadily through the stages of lessening restrictions. Victoria has not, but the quarantine stuff-ups that caused their lockdown would not have been lessened by an elimination strategy anyway.

'Thinking different' is all very well, but opening our economy up safely and quickly to key trading partners (the vast majority of whom cannot pursue an elimination strategy) is essential to our economic recovery. It is looking like an effective suppression strategy is the best way of achieving that.
 
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swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
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To the contrary, all indications globally are that countries that are managing suppression are gradually opening up to each other. See Scandinavia and the Baltic, for example. It is countries with uncontrolled spread and those who have committed to eradication being left out in the cold.


Eradication does not guarantee that you can avoid shutdowns unless you completely close off your economy (and therefore disease entry points) to the outside. Quarantine does not catch 100% of cases, so in the long run you will still have disease getting into the country. Resetting to eliminate in those situations is also potentially far more disruptive than the gradual squeezing of the brakes required in a suppression strategy.

NSW and Queensland are proving that heavily controlled suppression whilst opening up the economy can work. Both have progressed steadily through the stages of lessening restrictions. Victoria has not, but the quarantine stuff-ups that caused their lockdown would not have been lessened by an elimination strategy anyway.

'Thinking different' is all very well, but opening our economy up safely and quickly to key trading partners (the vast majority of whom cannot pursue an elimination strategy) is essential to our economic recovery. It is looking like an effective suppression strategy is the best way of achieving that.
It may be a matter of terminology. The heavy suppression of Australian states (WA especially) is what I mean by eradication. It's eradication within the community and suppression of incoming cases from travellers.

The countries with uncontrolled spread weren't the ones who tried eradication (e.g. US, UK). They were just incompetent and have now given up.

It depends what you mean by suppression and what is necessary. Are we happy to live in a socially-distanced society forever? Are we happy to have no more crowds at sport? The European countries that are opening up are still having these measures - economically, I'm not sure whether that's workable.
 

Caesar

Ex-Huckleberry
Mar 3, 2005
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When I say heavy suppression, I mean keeping cases low enough that they can be handled by contact tracing.

I think that we should expect low-level social distancing to continue until an effective vaccine is available (if that occurs). I appreciate that may well break the financial models of certain industries.
 

swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
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When I say heavy suppression, I mean keeping cases low enough that they can be handled by contact tracing.

I think that we should expect low-level social distancing to continue until an effective vaccine is available (if that occurs). I appreciate that may well break the financial models of certain industries.
I think it may also break what it means to be human. My kids haven't been able to hug their grandparents in months. That's really how we want to live?
 

Caesar

Ex-Huckleberry
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It’s not my preference, but we may just have to find ways to recapture some of that stuff within the new normal.

I don’t think we can look to shutting the world out as a panacea that will allow everything to go back to how it was.
 

Balls In

Norm Smith Medallist
May 25, 2018
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Eradication is not an option. Unlike the earlier clusters of returning travellers Victoria now has mass community transmission and its riddled through the demographic Pauline Hanson mentioned which makes it all but impossible to contain. The genie is out of the bottle.
 

swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 3, 2007
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Eradication is not an option. Unlike the earlier clusters of returning travellers Victoria now has mass community transmission and its riddled through the demographic Pauline Hanson mentioned which makes it all but impossible to contain. The genie is out of the bottle.
No we don't. Mass community transmission is Florida.
 

hamohawk1

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Feb 18, 2011
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Eradication is an option but economic growth would be pretty much 0. Better to go down the surpression model and hope that treatment/ vaccine outcomes improve over the coming months.
 

swingdog

Norm Smith Medallist
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Will become the great ethical dilemma of the 21st century. Live with low growth, f all employment and wage growth, or accept some people may get seriously sick/ pass away.
I think you've described the rolling suppression scenario. Eradication would be brutal in the short-term but better in the long run. Our domestic economy runs on confidence (consumers confident to go into shops, to bars, to restaurants, to work in offices). Eradication of community transmission could give us that back.
 

hamohawk1

Premiership Player
Feb 18, 2011
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I think you've described the rolling suppression scenario. Eradication would be brutal in the short-term but better in the long run. Our domestic economy runs on confidence (consumers confident to go into shops, to bars, to restaurants, to work in offices). Eradication of community transmission could give us that back.
But then you essentially lock out tourism (noting people won't be inclined to spend 2 weeks in a hotel). These days tourism and international students provide a massive injection into the economy
 

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