The 12 days that shook Christmas

Believe me if you don’t see me and I don’t tell you anything
If one day I get lost and never return.
Believe me, I want to be a machete in the middle of the harvest
A fierce bullet in the centre of combat.
Believe me that my doves have rainbows,
My hands of fine songs.
Vicente Feliu

On Monday the 27th December, it took my sister seven hours to get a Covid test which was mandated for all people visiting Brisbane over Christmas. She had no symptoms it was merely a requirement. arbitrarily set down by authorities to cover their let it rip strategy over Christmas and New Year despite dire warnings from Dr Dan Suan, an immunologist in Sydney. My sister had a negative PCR test taken in Melbourne on 17 December 2021. She basically lives in self isolation in a small house in inner city Melbourne.

To do the test we went to Murrarie testing centre first. We were turned away by a traffic controller who told us there was no guarantee of getting test after three hours wait. We know family friends (also from Melbourne) who did manage to get a test done that day. We then went to private pathology lab at Carina which was closed. So we went to Terry White chemist at Coorparoo and the attendant said a rapid antigen test would not suffice. Then we went to the Mater hospital and my sister waited four hours in the hot muggy atmosphere of Brisbane to get a Covid PCR test.

In Queensland, the Premier announced via tweet at 7:26 AM · Dec 29, 2021 that:

“From January 1, travellers into Qld from interstate hotspots can use a negative Rapid Antigen Test to satisfy border pass requirements. A PCR test will no longer be required.”

Yesterday a worker in a pathology lab has given us grim insight into the chaos that has been caused by the authorities’ letting-it-rip strategy over Christmas.

“We cannot cope. Healthcare staff have been left a burden which we do not have the resources to manage. The quality of patient care is suffering. I cannot speak for nurses or doctors on these wards, they must be going through unimaginable stress and hardship. What I witnessed yesterday has left a terrifying impression on me. The hospitals are not equipped for this.”

Meanwhile we are being told there are only a few cases in hospital. Yet there are nearly 1,000 people in Brisbane in “home care”. Some people are not equipped to deal with the severity of the disease at home and die as a result.

When there is hardly any Covid the pathologists think all samples are likely negative so they are batched … putting maybe 100 swabs in one reaction. That batch reaction would be negative when no Covid around. Very quick testing turn around. If there is a lot of Covid you either can’t batch thus slowing things down …. or you batch and have to go back and test all 100 samples again if the batch is positive.

So testing turnaround always much quicker per swab when no Covid. 

Here is what the pathology lab guy in NSW has to say about PCR (polymerase chain reaction):

“PCR is a complicated, lengthy, multi step process that requires trained staff to complete all the way through. The equipment used for PCR testing was not meant for the volumes that are required at the moment, and as such, we have had to find ways around these limitations. First of all, pathologies started batching samples to cope with the frequency of testing that was required during the lockdown a few months ago. This method essentially boils down to mixing multiple samples together and testing them as one unit. If the test comes back negative, all samples in the batch are resulted accordingly. If the batch comes back as positive, we can run each sample individually to single out the culprit(s). This is all well and good when the percentage of positive results is low, however it all starts to fall apart when this percentage increases and every other batch we test is positive and requires individual testing, deleting any further testing until the positive samples are identified.”

So is Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk regretting her letting it rip strategy over Christmas?

This is what the worker has to say about private pathology labs:

Private labs are scum. Do not trust any lab that tells you results will be available in x hours, that is not the word of the workers but that of the management which want to leech off of the healthcare system. As far as I’m concerned the only reputable labs are NSW Health Pathology which is what you’ll come across in public hospitals. Profiteering is running rampant and private labs will never admit that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, especially when the quality of their service has no impact on the amount of money they’ll make.

Labs ill prepared for letting it rip strategy. Pathology worker put it this way:

Data entry and resulting are huge time sinks that cripple some labs. Labs that don’t use measures like QR codes that allow you to enter your details before you get tested are spending DAYS just manually entering handwritten information into laboratory systems. I know for a fact that some pathologies are at least a full day behind on simply entering specimens into their system. This also goes for reporting results, by now, most labs should have some sort of automatic verification system for negative results, however positive results need to be carefully overlooked by a trained staff member before they’re allowed to be released. This is a time consuming process, and it’s very likely that the person who sets up multiple hundred samples a day is also the one who has to deal with each positive result.

Poor planning, profiteering and bad management can only result in chaos in a public health system already under heavy loads.


How the immune system works with Covid-19

I am going to try to explain how the immune system works. But here is a disclaimer. The Immune system is incredibly complex and I certainly only have a small inkling of what is really going on in our bodies.

I’m hoping that people can take away from this an understanding that it takes the body a while to mount a response to infection even when we are vaccinated. 

When a virus begins multiplying in our upper airways a signal is sent for our bodies to produce natural killer cells called macrophages (Greek: large eaters) and other cells with complicated names like polymorphonuclear leucocytes.

Macrophage eating cells infected with virus

Cellular defence
These killer cells migrate to the infected site and chew up infected cells, but this takes some time.

During this period, there must be a chance of transmission of the virus to people in close contact. This is irrespective of whether we have been vaccinated or not.

Chemical defence
Also plasma cells (aka white blood cells or leucocytes) produce antibodies which attack the virus (aka antigen) by binding to them and slowing them down (they can’t replicate themselves) and are left to be eaten by the macrophages. These antibodies are called Immunoglobulins and there are many different types of these produced by different types of cells i.e. lymphocytes (a type of leucocyte) found the lymphatic system.

Antibodies make up the chemical defence of the body against viruses and bacteria.

A remarkable aspect of our immune system is that it has Memory B and T cells. So our bodies possess Immunological memory. What happens is both T and B cells result in a secondary antibody response that is faster, of higher affinity, and results in the secretion of immunoglobulins. The antibody response  drops off over time after natural infection. Our immune system slowly loses its memory. This makes sense when we realise that we a biological organisms with a life span i.e. we all die eventually.

Vaccines train memory B cells and T immune cells to produce more antibodies, hence severe outcome vaccine protection doesn’t drop off so much. Vaccines simply allow your immune system to more rapidly begin removing infected cells but it’s difficult for any vaccine to protect totally against transmission. 

The Lancet has published a study that shows that the younger you are the more effective the vaccine.

A. Lancet graph below shows the gradual drop off in effectiveness in stopping infection over time for the different age groups.

B. This graph shows effectiveness of preventing hospitalization (severe infection) does not drop off much over time.

Economic Imperative
I have noticed that the authorities in Queensland are playing down the severity of Covid-19. They may be doing it elsewhere too?

Re: “authorities are playing down the severity of Covid-19”

The authorities knew beforehand that Queensland would have a large number of visitors (>450,000) over the Christmas Break. So they knew we would have a big surge in Covid cases but didn’t care because of the money that the visitors would spend.

They mandated testing within 5 days of arrival to cover themselves … but that put the onus back on the visitors because the state did not provide sufficient testing facilities or staff … hence there were lines with waiting of up to four hours at both Murrarie and Mater Hill and no doubt at Boondall and elsewhere.

Covid over 12 days of Christmas ’21: the problem with knowing (but not thinking)

Have people noticed that there are only 4 people in hospital in Brisbane (they say with “covid-related” problems) but 976 people, under “at home care”. Fair enough I suppose but I bet some of these people are really sick.

Medicos basically define ‘severity’ in this way:

mild= fairly sick
moderate = really really sick
severe = basically on a respirator.

Over Christmas 2021 Delta is the major strain in Queensland by a long way … Omicron has not really hit yet. Hopefully it is less severe and people will develope an immunity to it in the future.

There is no immunity from government ineptitude.

Ian Curr
28 December 2021

Next episode: Why vaccines work.

Please comment down below