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EDITORIAL: Testing the luck of the lucky country

In the last few months we might have been forgiven for thinking our reputation as ‘the lucky country’ had lost its tether and become adrift in a sea of COVID-19.

Many of us have struggled to come to grips with enduring restrictions in the face of a relentless and doggedly determined disease that, like an ambush predator, hides in the shadows before aggressively striking with venom.

While the persistent threat continues to hover over a society desperate for a greater return to normality, we might well be seeing one of the more profound reasons of why we are ‘the lucky country’.

Much of Australia, through all the political and community and health-response efforts, for the moment appears to have scored a mighty broadside hit against the virus.



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It would be foolish to suggest we’ve scored a knockout blow. 

We might simply have won a major battle in our part of the world in an international war that continues to rage, in some places with renewed intensity. This fight is far from over.

But the odds in this clash with a mighty foe, in Australia at least, might be starting to shift and we, as the lucky country, appear primed to be front and centre in leading a game-changing charge.

While Europe, the Americas and parts of Asia are copping another hammering from this disease and heading into a northern hemisphere winter, we find ourselves in a powerful position to launch a major offensive.

As we head into summer and based on time frames, we might be able to balk the ravages of profound new waves of the disease. 

But many cards, ranging from the response of the average person in the street to the work of scientists, political direction and manufacturing efficiencies, must fall into place for it to happen as hoped.

An Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, which in a regional twist has involved work out of humble Natimuk, is likely to be ready for manufacture later this month and distribution to Australian health and aged-care workers and the most vulnerable from March.

‘Essential’ workers will be next in line before a roll-out to the rest of the country, with a vaccination program to immunise the country’s overall population to ramp up throughout 2021.

Getting as many people as possible vaccinated represents the final leg in a waiting game and might take longer than optimistic government predictions.

CSIRO health and biosecurity director Dr Robert Grenfell, who has based himself in Natimuk while overseeing the team working on the vaccine, stressed that maintaining suppression efforts, testing and contact tracing were critical in containing the virus before new vaccines and anti-viral drugs started playing their role.

Dr Rob Grenfell.

“Australia might well prove to be lucky. The most important message remains that anyone who has

symptoms needs to get a test and people must still take social distancing seriously” – Dr Robert Grenfell.

 

“Australia might well prove to be lucky. The most important message remains that anyone who has symptoms needs to get a test and people must still take social distancing seriously. It is still unclear how much virus is circulating in the community and we don’t want a flare-up that has happened in Europe,” he said.

We have reached a curious juncture in this whole virus saga. 

While there is promise on the  horizon and cause for a renewed sense of confidence, we can’t afford to drop our guard.

We have a chance to ‘hit the front’ in the next few months, but we’re a little while off winning the game.

The entire November 4, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!