Economists and health experts warn against short-term fixes and suggest going hard looking at the bigger picture.
Australian Government-Funded Research Finds Longer Lockdowns Way To Go Against Covid
MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia is a long way from a post-Covid economy, according to new research that backs longer lockdowns.
Modelers, economists, and public health experts from the Australian National University and the University of Melbourne have crunched the numbers and found longer lockdowns benefit the economy in the long term.
The report comes as the Morrison government urges Australians to live with the virus and get vaccinated to have any hope of opening up to the global economy.
“If we think we can do away with periods of movement restrictions when uncontrolled outbreaks occur, we need to think again,” University of Melbourne professor Tom Kompas said on July 6.
“The key point here is not to think about the economic costs over a period of a couple of weeks, large as they are, but rather to consider the costs over a period of months if community transmission continues.”
Meanwhile, as states struggle to nip lockdown-inducing outbreaks in the bud as new cases emerge, federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned Australia cannot eliminate Covid-19. “Ultimately, we can’t eliminate the virus,” he said.
“We have to learn to live with the virus.”
Imposing a certain number of social distancing days per lockdown was found to reduce the total in lockdown over a 12-month period, and the costs to the economy of about AU$210 million ($159 million) per lockdown day.
“Our results support strategies that go hard against Covid-19 infections and get us to zero community transmission,” lead author Quentin Grafton said.
“This is especially the case now with this Delta variant and Australia’s currently low vaccination level,” he said.
And to ensure compliance and to help those who are doing it tough, Grafton said there needs to be enough financial support for the people who are most affected by lockdowns.
Social distancing and lockdown measures have played a key role in controlling both the first and second infection waves in Australia.
But contact tracing was found to be resource-intensive, especially as the number of cases increases.
During Victoria’s second wave, contact tracing by itself was insufficient to stop growth in infections and a severe lockdown was needed.
Hotel quarantine was initially assumed to be 100 percent effective in preventing the entry and spread of the virus.
However, cases of transmission from within hotel quarantine contributed to Victoria’s second wave, and there have been multiple other cases of transmission from within hotel quarantine.
Separately, modeling commissioned by the federal government from the Doherty Institute is weighing up the full range of tools to suppress — not eliminate — the virus.
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Krishna Kakani)