It was around the beginning of June, when the number of new Covid-19 cases for Victoria were around 10-20 a day, that there was a general feeling that suppression was working and that it was time to begin opening up. I will admit I took advantage of the looser restrictions, but I always wondered whether it would be better to remain closed for a little while longer and go for elimination. This was not the official strategy though: we have testing and tracing up and running and as long as we know where the virus is, we can continue to roll-back restrictions and achieve some semblance of normalcy.
Fast-forward to today and the daily number of cases is higher than what it was back in March, Melbourne is back under Stage 3 restrictions and I’m shopping on-line for masks.
It seems obvious to me that suppression as a strategy may not be enough. We may eventually (hopefully) get the virus tamped down once more, but it’s still out there and our efforts to keep it at bay are only as strong as our weakest link.
I think it’s time we go for elimination. It won’t be easy, but there are three reasons why I reckon it’s worth a shot:
I’m aware that this a post written by someone who is in a position of relative privilege. I haven’t lost my job, and I remain relatively healthy and financially secure. I also know that it will be expensive and will cause a fair bit more suffering for those with small businesses that will need to shut their doors. So I recognised that I don’t have all the facts, and this may not be feasible at all. But I also question the feasibility of maintaining a long-term suppression strategy until treatments or a vaccine become available: this is a tricky virus to handle.
In the end, I guess I’m just a bit disappointed by the lack of abition in attempting this as a goal. It seems advantageous, especially now, to seize the moment and go for making our second round of lock-downs our last.