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If you can catch Covid in Antarctica, where can’t you catch it?

No matter what’s happening as regards Covid in Ireland, the government has one answer and one answer alone:


When deaths are up even slightly, they panic. When hospitalisations are up even slightly, they panic. When deaths and hospitalisations are down, they prepare for an imagined incoming new wave (which may or may not come at all) and preemptively panic.

And when all else fails, and things are mostly going well across the board, they always have one last metric they can fall back on to panic about: cases. Even if almost nobody is getting hospitalised or dying, if cases are up, that’s reason enough to freak out according to our leaders.

When introducing the last batch of restrictions, Taoiseach Micheál Martin repeatedly mentioned surging cases as a justification for the new measures. He’s also urging everyone to receive boosters ASAP to stop the spread of Omicron.

This is despite Covid hospitalisations declining massively since the end of November, and Covid deaths staying more or less stable with no significant increase whatsoever in the past month or so. Quite simply, cases went up, and the government panicked.

How interesting then to find that over 50% of the 25 Belgian researchers stationed in the middle of a remote Antarctic facility have contracted Covid-19, despite all of them being fully-vaccinated.

As reported by Sky News:

“A research station in Antarctica is battling a coronavirus outbreak, with at least 16 of the 25 workers testing positive for the virus.

Princess Elisabeth Polar Station, a Belgian facility, implemented strict rules to avoid COVID-19 infections, Le Soir reported.

All of the team members have received two vaccine doses and none of those who have the virus are experiencing severe symptoms, Le Soir reported.

Workers are required to provide a negative test before travelling from Belgium to South Africa, while they also have to quarantine in South Africa and test negative before travelling on to Antarctica.”

So, to recap, all of these scientists had received both vaccine doses. They had tested negative on two separate PCR tests in two countries before arriving at the facility, with a quarantine in between. And even still, despite all that, they caught Covid-19 in a facility over 4,000 kilometres away from the nearest town or city.

What more proof do you need that this case-chasing policy is the most futile and pointless fool’s errand ever undertaken?

If you can catch Covid-19 with your double negative tested, fully-vaccinated mates in Antarctica – which is so remote it may as well be the Moon – what possible hope do we have of stopping people catching it in Crumlin, or Dundalk, or Athlone, where we all live together and run into each other on the bus and at the shop?

You have a perfectly controlled, stable environment like a remote research base, and even there, we can’t keep this thing out.

Perhaps what’s most frustrating about all this is the fact that the government knows this perfectly well.

As reported in the in October 2020:

“Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar agree on one thing – the government should focus on hospitalisations, ICU capacity and deaths rather than new cases when making decisions about Covid-19 restrictions.

“What I see other countries doing – Belgium is the most recent example – is that they are no longer using case numbers to make their decisions on restrictions and on policy.

“They are looking at hospitalisations, ICU capacity and deaths. It is a job for us as politicians to say to the public health people that maybe we should be focusing on that.

“The objective was to make sure our health service did not get overwhelmed, not to lock down the country and the economy until there was no Covid at all. That is not realistic.”

Indeed, lads. It’s not realistic. And so why is the surge in cases driving our public health decisions? Why are we obsessed with, in Jim O’Callaghan’s words, “crushing the curve into the ground”?

The only two metrics that matter regarding Covid are hospitalisations and deaths. If nobody is getting seriously ill or dying from this disease, the panic should not be happening – end of story. Cases alone should not be the basis of any major decision going forward, as has been obvious for almost 2 years now.

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