Australian politicians have been flicking varied and arbitrary vaccine targets at their voters for months. In most cases those targets have been paired with giving us permission to exercise freedoms we’ve previously taken for granted.
Even after the National Cabinet target came out on July 30, NSW Premier Berejiklian has rolled from 50% to leave lockdown, to “more freedom” at 70%, to “much freer” at 80%. Note, of course, that in Gladys’ world we will never be “free” without qualification:
“Whilst there will not be complete freedom at 70 per cent, or even 80 per cent, depending on the case numbers, life will be much freer than what it is today and that’s the point I want to make.”
The premier said that although protocols like using QR codes, wearing masks and social distancing are likely to stick around for some time yet, “harsh restrictions” will no longer be necessary.
Prime Minister Morrison set targets of 70% for 2-dose vaccinated adults to “get special rules to avoid some lockdown restrictions” and 80% of adults Covid-vaccinated before “broad lockdowns will not be used in major cities, caps on returning Australians will be abolished and all restrictions on vaccinated travellers leaving the country will be removed.”
Note that our Prime Minister is talking about legally-enforced medical apartheid.
Some academics – Tony Blakely at University of Melbourne, for example – reach for the ridiculous:
A vaccination target of 80 per cent was a likely goal, he said, but new variants and further breakouts would mean that no vaccination rate was likely to allow Australia to open its borders without restriction.
“We talk about opening the borders but it won’t be to all countries all of the time,” he said
Professor Blakely said Australia would need a vaccination rate of 90 per cent of the population to reach herd immunity, while a rate of only 50 or 60 per cent would not be high enough to avoid further lockdowns.
How Viable Are the Targets?
Outside very small jurisdictions like Iceland, Malta, Gibraltar and Hawaii, what is the upper limit on vaccination rates?
Note here we need to convert the National Cabinet’s % of adults to % of population to allow comparison with world datasets.
Well, a cursory look at 16 August vaccination rates shown at Our World in Data reveals that for countries bigger than 8.6m (Israel as cutoff):
Only 1 has a fully-vaccinated rate above 70% (UAE at 73%)
Only another 2 countries have a fully-vaccinated rate above 65% (Belgium, Chile)
Eight more have a fully-vaccinated rate above 57% but below 65% (Portugal, Spain, Canada, Israel, Hungary, Germany, Italy, UK).
All these countries were early adopters. Note that UAE has a population of 9.8m.
The United States is barely 50%. France is 52.5%.
At 18 August the National Cabinet is demanding we meet a 2-dose vaccination target to exit domestic lockdowns (57% of population) that only 10 comparable nations have met after an extended period, and those were early adopters before the emergence of vaccine failure and broader concerns.
The National Cabinet is also demanding a 2-dose adult vaccination target (65% of population) to eliminate broad lockdown rules, and to allow travel (for vaccinated only) that only three comparable countries have met.
The second target is certain to fail. The first target is unlikely to be met, but possible.
What might indicate that the National Cabinet is deliberately targeting failure?
Firstly, the unreasonableness of the target. Politicians don’t deliberately set unreachable public targets, because they don’t like public failure.
Secondly, a more Machiavellian concern. I am assuming they have sufficiently open minds to recognise that vaccine failure is coming and that the vaccinated will have regrets and anger. By setting unreachable targets it allows our governments (cross-party) to blame the unvaccinated for the certain continuing rise in case numbers.
The current vitriol, misrepresentation, hate-mongering and outright lying about the role the unvaccinated are playing in case numbers sets up a neat scapegoat play. If in a few months vaccines don’t reduce cases, stop transmission, or reduce deaths, not reaching these targets makes the unvaxxed the baddies – not the government who oversold the vaccines.
But I can’t claim it is a deliberate setup. Our leaders and health bureaucrats have proven so divorced from real data that it is far more likely they simply have no idea what they are asking for.
Converting Adult Population Percent to Population Percent
I subtract all children under 15 from the total Australian population at December 2020 to work out the number of adults.
I then convert 70/80% of adults into a percentage of the total population figure.