A reflection, interesting reads, & some good news

I just returned from Bunnings, hoping to pick up some lettuce seedlings. All gone. The garden section is full, not of hoarders but of people clearly turning their minds to the garden. Kids insisting mum buys this mint or that petunia, play equipment, a bed for a new puppy. Somber but purposeful. Distanced.

This morning ABC radio recalls other more devastating pandemics, The Guardian has a pic of military tents on football ovals for those unable to be hospitalised during 1918-19 Spanish flu which killed 50 million worldwide. As now, it was quickly spread, in this case, by soldiers traveling home from war.

But we are not the country we were 100 years ago. Trump’s malicious naming of this the Chinese Virus has not caught on, our marvelous health workers and hospitals, though caught short, are so much more capable. Our medical researchers are working globally and at great speed, close to finding treatments and vaccines. The effort is immense.

People are reflecting. This imposed slowdown is not without benefits – a quieter life, fewer greenhouse emissions, a pause in traffic, more time with the kids, questioning our consumption habits, looking out for one another. In Victoria school holidays have been brought forward. Perhaps a chance to go to the beach.

My spritely and cheerful older neighbor was inundated with offers of help. It won’t be like that everywhere and it’s going to be really tough for people who lose their jobs but if we are careful, most people won’t be infected and the vast majority will recover.

It’s natural to be critical – that’s the highly-contested political arena we are in – and criticism can and does influence decisions made. However, it’s also important to know what’s being done for us so that neither we nor those people doing the work, lose heart.

Here are some thoughtful and interesting pieces, well worth a look.

  • John Daley makes the case for shutting down and restarting in The Guardian which, by the way, is doing a sterling job of bringing us reliable news, just as they did during the bushfires.
  • A Doherty Institute and Melbourne Health online panel discussion with Prof Sharon Lewin, infectious diseases physician, Dr Mike Catton from the lab that isolated the virus and is doing most of the testing, Professor Dale Godfrey, NHMRC and expert in immunology,  Professor Kanta Subbarao, WHO and Professor Sara Wilson, Head of Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences is a very useful update on progress.
  • Professor Nevan Krogan, University of California, is looking at existing drugs for the treatment of Covid-19 and is hopeful of finding one amongst 50 with the right protein structure to at least slow down the virus’s progression. The great advantage of this is not having to do years-long preclinical trials. Published in The Conversation

And some good news, just announced. The Government’s $66 billion package includes doubling to around $1,100/fortnight, payments over the next 6 months to existing and new JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit payments. This will be very welcome for a lot of people!  

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