Oz for Dummies: Week 49, 2021

Andreas Ortmann
3 min readDec 12, 2021

(December 6–12) Omicron, oh Omicron / Kimmich learning about trade-offs the hard way / Pandemic normality in the land of Oz / Temporary border closure to be revoked / Berejiklian out of the race she never entered

/ Omicron, oh Omicron

So it looks as if Omicron is on a roll, and on its way to become the dominant variant of SARS-CoViD-2 before long. While in NSW it still seems to account for less than 1 percent of new cases, in South Africa it now commands more than 90 percent of the market share (in new cases), and in Great Britain and Denmark the trend is exponential, too. Of course the focus should be on hospitalizations and ICU referrals, or for that matter deaths. And no news have emerged that would contradict the findings so far that Omicron, while more infectious and more evasive, seems less malevolent.

There is considerable agreement that a booster shot is a good thing and so I got mine Friday. A Comirnaty (BioNTech-Pfizer) on top of two AZs earlier in the year. Should serve me well.

/ Kimmich learning about trade-offs the hard way

Joshua Kimmich, the unvaxxed and infected German soccer star, is learning the hard way that there are not just risks to getting vaxxed but that there are considerable risks if you don’t and then get infected. Yesterday the news broke that he will be out at least through the remainder of the year because of Covid complications. It is not clear how serious the (lung) inflammations are that he is reported to deal with, and how disruptive they ultimately will be. But he has now even more time to think about the idiocy of not taking a vaccine that for someone like him presents a low risk. Nothing like learning about the long-term consequences of getting infected by experience rather than description.

/ Pandemic normality in the land of Oz

NSW has seen an uptick in the last few days, reaching 560 new cases Saturday (and Omicron cannot be blamed for it), although ICU referrals seem to be steady for the time being. Victoria remains consistently in four-digit territory in cases, …

/ Temporary border closure to be revoked

A couple of weeks ago, in light of the Omicron developments, the federal government “paused” until December 15 its travel policy that originally should have allowed overseas students, skilled workers, and even tourists (properly vaxxed) to arrive without quarantine in NSW, Victoria, and ACT.

Friday’s national cabinet meeting of state premiers, chief ministers of the territories, and Morrison ended without a formal announcement about what’s supposed to happen on December 16 but I am happy to take bets that the temporary border closure will be revoked. In Morrison’s words, “Well, we’re taking more advice at the moment, but that is certainly our disposition.” And Frydenberg likewise suggested that much.

What makes me optimistic is the fact that the UNSW Division of Planning and Assurance, as risk averse an animal as any, after initially asking that I postpone my departure to Europe to after December 15, last Friday gave me the green light for my departure on December 13. Europe, here I come.

/ Berejiklian out of the race she never entered

For weeks now former premier Berejiklian let speculation run wild that she might be available as Liberal candidate for the Warringah seat in the House of Representatives currently held by independent Zali Steggall (who finished off Tony Abbott’s political career at the last election). The speculation was kept alive by Morrison who took the opportunity to free-ride on Berejiklian’s reputation and to attack the ICAC (that has gone after Berejiklian for good reason) as a “kangaroo court”. These are the dangerous utterances of an unprincipled leader who is trying to politically survive at all cost. If in the process he takes down people’s trust in important institutions, Morrison could not care less.

Berejiklian last week ruled out that she would run for the Warringah seat, thereby killing off this particular side-show.

And that’s the wrap for week 49 of 2021. Most likely there won’t be wrap ups while I be traveling in Europe. No tears please.

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Andreas Ortmann

EconProf: I post occasionally on whatever tickles my fancy: Science, evidence production, the Econ tribe, Oz politics, etc. Y’all r entitled to my opinions …