We isolated ourselves from Gondwana 99 million years ago

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27 Responses to We isolated ourselves from Gondwana 99 million years ago

  1. C.L. says:

    The United States and Australia share similar demographics, but their pandemic death rates point to very different cultures of trust.

    Damien Cave in the New York Times

    MELBOURNE, Australia — If the United States had the same Covid death rate as Australia, about 900,000 lives would have been saved. The Texas grandmother who made the perfect pumpkin pie might still be baking. The Red Sox-loving husband who ran marathons before Covid might still be cheering at Fenway Park.

    For many Americans, imagining what might have been will be painful. But especially now, at the milestone of one million deaths in the United States, the nations that did a better job of keeping people alive show what Americans could have done differently and what might still need to change.

    Many places provide insight. Japan. Kenya. Norway. But Australia offers perhaps the sharpest comparisons with the American experience. Both countries are English-speaking democracies with similar demographic profiles. In Australia and in the United States, the median age is 38. Roughly 86 percent of Australians live in urban areas, compared with 83 percent of Americans.

    Yet Australia’s Covid death rate sits at one-tenth of America’s, putting the nation of 25 million people (with around 7,500 deaths) near the top of global rankings in the protection of life.

    Australia’s location in the distant Pacific is often cited as the cause for its relative Covid success. That, however, does not fully explain the difference in outcomes between the two countries, since Australia has long been, like the United States, highly connected to the world through trade, tourism and immigration. In 2019, 9.5 million international tourists came to Australia. Sydney and Melbourne could just as easily have become as overrun with Covid as New York or any other American city.

    For the standard slide-show presentation, it looks obvious: Australia restricted travel and personal interaction until vaccinations were widely available, then maximized vaccine uptake, prioritizing people who were most vulnerable before gradually opening up the country again.

    From one outbreak to another, there were also some mistakes: breakdowns of protocol in nursing homes that led to clusters of deaths; a vaccine rollout hampered by slow purchasing. And with Omicron and eased restrictions, deaths have increased.

    But Australia’s Covid playbook produced results because of something more easily felt than analyzed at a news conference. Dozens of interviews, along with survey data and scientific studies from around the world, point to a lifesaving trait that Australians displayed from the top of government to the hospital floor, and that Americans have shown they lack: trust, in science and institutions, but especially in one another.

    When the pandemic began, 76 percent of Australians said they trusted the health care system (compared with around 34 percent of Americans), and 93 percent of Australians reported being able to get support in times of crisis from people living outside their household.

    In global surveys, Australians were more likely than Americans to agree that “most people can be trusted” — a major factor, researchers found, in getting people to change their behavior for the common good to combat Covid, by reducing their movements, wearing masks and getting vaccinated. Partly because of that compliance, which kept the virus more in check, Australia’s economy has grown faster than America’s through the pandemic.

    But of greater import, interpersonal trust — a belief that others would do what was right not just for the individual but for the community — saved lives. Trust mattered more than smoking prevalence, health spending or form of government, a study of 177 countries in The Lancet recently found. And in Australia, the process of turning trust into action began early.

    Greg Hunt had been Australia’s health minister for a couple of years, after working as a lawyer and investor, when his phone buzzed on Jan. 20, 2020. It was Dr. Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, and he wanted to talk about a new coronavirus in China.

    Dr. Murphy, a low-key physician and former hospital executive, said there were worrisome signs of human-to-human transmission.

    “What’s your honest, considered advice?” Mr. Hunt recalled asking.

    “I think this has the potential to go beyond anything we’ve seen in our lifetime,” Dr. Murphy said. “We need to act fast.”

    The next day, Australia added the coronavirus, as a threat with “pandemic potential,” to its biosecurity list, officially setting in motion the country’s emergency response. Mr. Hunt briefed Prime Minister Scott Morrison, visited the country’s stockpile of personal protective equipment and began calling independent experts for guidance.

    Sharon Lewin, the director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, one of Australia’s top medical research organizations, received several of those calls. She fed his questions into the meetings that had started to take place with scientists and officials at Australia’s public health laboratories.

    “There was a very thoughtful level of engagement, with politicians and scientists, right at that early phase in January,” Dr. Lewin said.

    The first positive case appeared in Australia on Jan. 25. Five days later, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first human transmission of the virus in the United States, President Donald J. Trump downplayed the risk. “We think it’s going to have a very good ending for us,” he said.

    The same day, Mr. Hunt struck a more practical tone. “Border, isolation, surveillance and case tracing mechanisms are already in place in Australia,” he said.

    Less than 24 hours later, on Feb. 1, Australia closed its border with China, its largest trading partner. On Feb. 3, 241 Australians were evacuated from China and placed in government quarantine for 14 days. While Americans were still gathering in large groups as if nothing was wrong, Australia’s Covid containment system was up and running.

    A full border closure followed. Hotels were contracted to quarantine the trickle of international arrivals allowed in. Systems for free testing and contact tracing were rolled out, along with a federal program that paid Covid-affected employees so they would stay home.

    For a business-friendly, conservative government, agreeing to the Covid-containment measures required letting go of what psychologists describe as “sticky priors” — longstanding beliefs tied to identity that often hold people back from rational decision-making.

    Mr. Morrison trusted his close friend Mr. Hunt. And Mr. Hunt said he had faith in the calm assessments and credentials of Dr. Lewin and Dr. Murphy.

    In a lengthy interview, Mr. Hunt added that he also had a historical moment of distrust in mind: Australia’s failures during the 1918 flu pandemic, when inconsistent advice and a lack of information sharing led to the rise of “snake oil” salesmen and wide disparities in death rates.

    In February and March, Mr. Hunt said, he retold that story in meetings as a warning. And in a country where compulsory voting has been suppressing polarization since 1924, Australia’s leaders chose to avoid partisanship. The Morrison government, the opposition Labor Party and state leaders from both parties lined up behind a “one voice” approach, with medical officers out front.

    Still, with a highly contagious virus, scientists speaking from podiums could do only so much.

    “Experts ‘getting on the same page’ only matters if people actually trust the actions government is taking, and trust their neighbors,” said Dr. Jay Varma, director of Cornell’s Center for Pandemic Prevention and Response and a former Covid adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York.

    “While that type of trust is relatively higher in New York City than in other parts of the U.S.,” said Dr. Varma, who has worked extensively in China and Southeast Asia, “I suspect it is still quite low compared to Oceania.”

    The outbreak that many Australians see as their country’s greatest Covid test began in late June 2020, with a breakdown in Melbourne’s hotel quarantine system. The virus spread into the city and its suburbs from guards interacting with travelers, a government inquiry later found, and within a few weeks, daily case numbers climbed into the hundreds.

    At Royal Melbourne, a sprawling public hospital built to serve the poor, clusters of infection emerged among vulnerable patients and workers. Case numbers and close contacts spiraled upward. Vaccines were still a distant dream.

    “We recognized right away that this was a disaster we’d never planned for, in that it was a marathon, not a sprint,” said Chris Macisaac, Royal Melbourne’s director of intensive care.

    A few weeks in, the system started to buckle. In mid-July, dozens of patients with Covid were transferred from nursing homes to Royal Park, a satellite facility for geriatric care and rehabilitation. Soon, more than 40 percent of the cases among workers were connected to that small campus.

    Kirsty Buising, an infectious disease consultant at the hospital, began to suspect — before scientists could prove it — that the coronavirus was airborne. In mid-July, on her suggestion, Royal Melbourne started giving N95 masks, which are more protective, to workers exposed to Covid patients.

    In the United States, hospital executives were lining up third-party P.P.E. vendors for clandestine meetings in distant parking lots in a Darwinian all-against-all contest. Royal Melbourne’s supplies came from federal and state stockpiles, with guidelines for how distribution should be prioritized.

    In New York, a city of eight million people packed closely together, more than 300 health care workers died from Covid by the end of September, with huge disparities in outcomes for patients and workers from one hospital to another, mostly according to wealth.

    In Melbourne, a city of five million with a dense inner core surrounded by suburbs, the masks, a greater separation of patients and an intense 111-day lockdown that reduced demand on hospital services brought the virus to heel. At Royal Melbourne, not a single worker died during Australia’s worst institutional cluster to date.

    In America, coordination within the health care system was haphazard. In Australia, which has a national health insurance program and a hospital system that includes both public and private options, there were agreements for load sharing and a transportation service for moving patients. The hospitals worked together, trusting that payment would be worked out.

    “We had options,” Dr. Macisaac said.

    “I’d just hate to be the one who lets everyone down.”

    When Australians are asked why they accepted the country’s many lockdowns, its once-closed international and state borders, its quarantine rules and then its vaccine mandates for certain professions or restaurants and large events, they tend to voice a version of the same response: It’s not just about me.

    The idea that one’s actions affect others is not unique to Australia, and at times, the rules on Covid stirred up outrage.

    “It was a somewhat authoritarian approach,” said Dr. Greg Dore, an infectious diseases expert at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. “There were lots of mandates, lots of fines for breaching restrictions, pretty heavy-handed controlling, including measures that were pretty useless, like the policing of outdoor masking.”

    But, he added, the package was effective because the vast majority of Australians stuck with it anyway.

    “The community coming on board and remaining on board through the tough periods of 2020 and even into 2021 was really, really important,” Dr. Dore said. “There is a general sense that for some things, where there are major threats, you just have to come together.”

    Studies show that income inequality is closely correlated with low levels of interpersonal trust. And in Australia, the gap between rich and poor, while widening, is less severe than in the United States.

    During the toughest of Covid times, Australians showed that the national trait of “mateship” — defined as the bond between equal partners or close friends — was still alive and well. They saw Covid spiral out of control in the United States and Britain, and chose a different path.

    Compliance rates with social distancing guidelines, along with Covid testing, contact tracing and isolation, held steady at around 90 percent during the worst early outbreaks, according to modeling from the University of Sydney. In the United States, reductions in mobility — a key measure of social distancing — were less stark, shorter and more inconsistent, based in part on location, political identity or wealth.

    In Australia, rule-following was the social norm. It was Mick Fanning, a surfing superstar, who did not question the need to stay with his American wife and infant in a small hotel room for 14 days of quarantine after a trip to California. It was border officials canceling the visa of Novak Djokovic, the top male tennis player in the world, for failing to follow a Covid vaccine mandate, leading to his eventual deportation.

    It was also all the Australians who lined up to get tested, who wore masks without question, who turned their phones into virus trackers with check-in apps, who set up food services for the old, infirm or poor in lockdowns, or who offered a place to stay to women who had been trapped in their homes with abusive husbands.

    At a recent awards luncheon in Melbourne for people who made a difference during Covid, those were the kinds of people being celebrated. Jodie McVernon, the director of epidemiology at the Doherty Institute, was the only scientist lauded at the event.

    “Care is so undervalued,” she said. “This was all about the power of care.”

    And, perhaps, the power of adaptability.

    When the Delta variant flooded the country last year as vaccine supplies were low, Australia’s ideas of protection and compliance changed.

    Mr. Hunt scrambled to procure vaccines — far too late, critics argued, after the AstraZeneca vaccines made in Australia seemed to pose a greater-than-expected risk of heart problems — while community leaders fought against a moderate burst of fear and skepticism about vaccines.

    Churches and mosques became pop-up Covid inoculation clinics. Quinn On, a pharmacist in Western Sydney’s working-class suburbs, took on extra staff at his own cost to get more people vaccinated. Mayor Chagai, a basketball coach in Sydney’s South Sudanese community, hosted Zoom calls with refugee families to answer questions about lockdowns and vaccines.

    Many Aboriginal Australians, who have countless reasons to distrust the authorities, also did what they could to get people inoculated. Wayne Webb, 64, a Wadandi elder in Western Australia, was one of many to prioritize a collective appeal.

    “It all goes hand in hand with protecting our old people,” he said he told the young men in his community.

    Vaccination uptake in Australia surged last year as soon as supplies arrived, rushing from roughly 10 percent of Australians over age 16 to 80 percent in six weeks. It was the fastest rate in the world at the time. Once that 80 percent was reached, Australia eased open its national and state borders.

    Now, more than 95 percent of Australian adults are fully vaccinated — with 85 percent of the total population having received two doses. In the United States, that figure is only 66 percent.

    The arrival of the Omicron variant, which is more transmissible, has sent Australia’s case numbers soaring, but with most of the population inoculated, deaths are ticking up more slowly. Australia has a federal election on Saturday. Covid is far down the list of voter concerns.

    “We learned that we can come together very quickly,” said Denise Heinjus, Royal Melbourne’s executive director for nursing, whose title in 2020 was Covid commander. “There’s a high level of trust among our people.”


    © 2022 The New York Times Company

  2. Bluey says:

    And how do does it compare to Sweden? Let alone a more nuanced look at how different states in the USA handled things.
    Whole thing reads like it’s written to justify the actions taken, instead of a serious look at if the outcome was worth it.

  3. C.L. says:

    Whole thing reads like it’s written to justify the actions taken, instead of a serious look at if the outcome was worth it.


    Australia’s location in the distant Pacific is often cited as the cause for its relative Covid success. That, however, does not fully explain the difference in outcomes…

    No, it really does.
    That and the fact that we don’t have tens of thousands of illegal aliens arriving every week.

  4. NoFixedAddress says:

    Is Damien Cave related to Greg Hunt or is Damien Cave the alter ego of Greg Hunt?

    Sounds like some heavy duty justification for Australian bureaucrats and spiv UniParty politicians to never have to cop the direct blame for shutting down the country because it will be WHO done it on May 22-28.

    And the arzholes including the WEF spiv Greg Hunt figure that their Climate Change is a danger to their health.

  5. Entropy says:

    Definitely building the lily.

    The bit about aboriginal communities is particularly risible.
    Right from the beginning substantial additional resources for vaccination etc were provided to aboriginal communities. Yet they still had the lowest rate of adoption.

    That said, the absolutely biggest reason is an island nation with control of its borders.

    And that mix of public and private hospital services. The NHS in Britain failed, and the private system in the US failed also.

  6. local oaf says:

    Who says a million people died, were they dying of something else and counted as covid to scare sheep into submission? Was the cause of their death decided by PCR tests?

    Why should anyone believe a word in the New York Times?

  7. Boambee John says:


    That and the fact that we don’t have tens of thousands of illegal aliens arriving every week.

    And the inflow has increased under Creepy Joe, while testing and vaccination (for what it might be worth) has stopped. Now, untested, unvaxxed, illegal entrants are swiftly flown to destinations all around the US, with not a peep of protest from the New York Slimes.

  8. Chris M says:

    were they dying of something else and counted as covid

    Exactly. The only relevant statistic is excess deaths but now this figure is clouded with a sharp increase in vaccine deaths and deaths related to lockdowns and other deleterious government interventions that did more harm than good.

  9. Not Trampis says:

    the last time I looked the socalled illegal aliens were not of elder ages nor suffering health problems that are exacerbated by covid.

    We simply had a much superior policy that essentially worked. It isn’t now

  10. Boambee John says:

    Non Mentis

    the last time I looked the socalled illegal aliens were not of elder ages nor suffering health problems that are exacerbated by covid.

    Way to miss the point. They might or might not be elderly, or suffering from co-morbidities, but the issue is that they are not tested for Kung Flu before being admitted and spread all around the US.

  11. Fat Tony says:

    I remember the CDC admitting that arouned 5% of their COVID deaths were from COVID, the remaining 95% with COVID.

    Considering that the CDC also admitted the PCR test couldn’t differentiate between flu & COVID, all of their “statistics” are B/S (as is probably the case with the rest of the world)

  12. C.L. says:

    Not only did Biden let in tens of thousands of illegal aliens every week during the ‘pandemic,’ he actually flew and bussed them around the country.

    Under Biden, the US murder rate is at a 100-year high.
    US media reported yesterday that drug deaths for 2021-22 are now at a record high.
    He has also presided over alleged covid deaths passing the 1 million mark.

    Oh, and he just started a new war in Africa and babies have no formula.

    Biden is a killer. He will be impeached.

  13. jupes says:

    When the pandemic began, 76 percent of Australians said they trusted the health care system (compared with around 34 percent of Americans)

    How embarrassing.

  14. C.L. says:

    I remember the CDC admitting that arouned 5% of their COVID deaths were from COVID, the remaining 95% with COVID.

    Yeah, we can take it as read that 1 million Americans have NOT died of covid.
    If anybody really believed that, it would be a problem for Biden.

    But it isn’t a problem for him at all. The media doesn’t care.

  15. Boxcar says:

    The CDC never “admitted” the 5%. It was and probably still is on their website.
    It was up to 6% last time I looked, some time back, but it is in a note at the bottom of a page.
    I see it as a “plausable deniability” clause, like “we always said it was about x thousand”
    Hospitals are still getting paid heaps to admit covid patients, ventilate them and lose them, so they sign everyone up. The stories about road deaths from Covid, are still true.
    And lets not forget, USA, the most advanced country in the world, with the best medicine in the world, and driving the world’s medical response to covid, have the highest death rate /numbers in the whole world. With that undeniable record, why is anyone listening to their “advice”

  16. bollux says:

    Stalin said “it’s who does the counting that counts”. 180,000+ Brits supposedly died, but only 17,317 died with ONLY Covid. Less than the total for influenza and pneumonia for half the same period of time. This to me is the only stat that counts. If anyone with Covid at death is counted as a Covid death, why aren’t they checked for hemorrhoids and if positive, called a haemorrhoid death? Just askin’.

  17. False Equivalence says:

    Johns Hopkins has been a consistent source of data throughout the COVID period. It seems clear that the basic numbers are accurate in the NYT comparison.

  18. Not Trampis says:

    okay are the so called illegal aliens people who maybe susceptible to covid?
    given they are not elderly nor have problems that are exacerbated by covid then the allegation is patently false.
    The problem of people dying in the USA is mainly a problem of States no giving a toss about covid like florida and texas for example.

    baby formula is made by private enterprise not the government.
    what is the war in Africa he has started?

  19. Buccaneer says:

    The private health system in the US is a dysfunctional market. The consumers of healthcare are not paying for it and the employers that are paying for it are not paying for healthcare but to avoid every possible risk. Until someone changes the model to ensure employers have no responsibility for health outcomes, the system will remain a problem.

  20. Lee says:

    Whole thing reads like it’s written to justify the actions taken, instead of a serious look at if the outcome was worth it.

    Couldn’t agree more.

  21. Boambee John says:

    Non Mentis

    okay are the so called illegal aliens people who maybe susceptible to covid?

    LOL. After a massive campaign to “vaccinate” everyone and his/her/xer dog, are you now claiming that a measurable and identifiable proportion of the population are not even susceptible to Kung Flu? Do try to stick to the “narrative”.

    given they are not elderly nor have problems that are exacerbated by covid

    Have you personally confirmed these assertions? Or are you just making them up?

    baby formula is made by private enterprise not the government.

    The FDA, part of the government, closed down a major manufacturer some months ago, over allegations of contamination. They could not find any actual contamination, but kept the facility closed anyway. Now that the problem has become “newsworthy”, they are condescending to allow the facility to re-open in a couple of weeks. Sounds like government action at the very least contributed to the problem.

    what is the war in Africa he has started?

    More evidence of your limited knowledge of anything more complex than balancing cash drawers.

  22. Not Trampis says:

    you die of covid if you are elderly or have problems exacerbated by covid. If you have either you would not travel to Mexico to get into the USA because of persecution concerns. this is not illegal.

    you have confirmed it is made by private enterprise.

    you cannot state what war Biden has started.

    By the way the homicide rate ( homicides per 100,00 which is the number criminologists prefer, is actually lower than in the 1990s but how a President is responsible for this no-one has explained.

    I have to say you love to show your ignorance.

  23. Boxcar says:

    Here’s the link to the current CDC 5% statement. read the lot, but your eyeballs may bleed.

    Comorbidities and other conditions
    Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The number of deaths that mention one or more of the conditions indicated is shown for all deaths involving COVID-19 and by age groups. For over 5% of these deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned on the death certificate. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 4.0 additional conditions or causes per death. For data on deaths involving COVID-19 by time-period, jurisdiction, and other health conditions,

  24. Boambee John says:

    Non Mentis

    you die of covid if you are elderly or have problems exacerbated by covid.

    So, you seem to be quite relaxed about young, fit Kung Flu carriers crossing the Mexico/US border without valid visas (ie, illegally) and spreading infection in whatever part of the US they are sent to. Why did Australia set up a system of quarantine for incoming travelers, when you could have sorted them by age and co-morbidities for us?

    Still showing your gross stupidity.

    you have confirmed it is made by private enterprise.

    And you have ignored the barriers put up, and maintained even in the absence of evidence of need, by a government agency. Two short planks!

    you cannot state what war Biden has started.

    There is a complete thread on it a few days ago. Go there and inform yourself, rather than expecting to be spoon-fed. Even pre-school drop outs should be able to do that.

    Where did I mention homicide rates (which are per 100,000, not 100,00)?

  25. local oaf says:

    Also, this article appeared in the same New York Times that praises the Ukr nazis while simultaneously still proudly displaying Duranty’s Pulitzer. You know, the one he received for praising Stalin.

    Any opinion of the NYT is trash.

  26. Not Trampis says:

    I see you do not know which people usually die from covid. not surprised.

    Still have confirmed it is made by private enterprise. they make mistakes then they have to make the corrections. It is called capitalism.
    Still cannot nominate which war Biden started in Africa.

    I di not say you had anything to do with homicides which I did say should be looked at per 100,000.
    Need to tell CL that.

    more own goals. you kick a lot of them

  27. Boambee John says:

    Non Mentis

    I see you do not know which people usually die from covid. not surprised.

    I see you do not have a clue that people not at risk of dying from COVID can still spread the infection. Why am I not surprised? Is it because you wish to see a demographic transformation in the US?

    they make mistakes then they have to make the corrections

    Still unaware that foot dragging by regulatory authorities can exacerbate a supposed problem (for which no evidence was found). Sad, low energy.

    Still cannot nominate which war Biden started in Africa.

    Can, but I am not your research assistant. Stop being idle, and scan back a few threads.

    which I did say should be looked at per 100,000.

    Let’s go to the original: “homicides per 100,00 which is the number criminologists prefer,” Another example of sloppy writing from the king of sloppy writing. Proof reading could improve both your accuracy and your punctuation.

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