Ten Good News Stories About Coronavirus

by Jarryd Bartle

In a time of crisis our social feeds are filled bad news and apocalyptic predictions, which can play havoc on our mental health.

This isn’t a time for naïve optimism, but scouring the latest news has turned up a couple glimmers of hope amongst all the doom and gloom.

Here are ten good news stories about COVID-19.

  1. China Is Recovering

Months after the initial outbreak, there are signs that China is recovering from the worst of the epidemic.

This week, Hubei province opened transportation connections back up to Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak, with other controls being lifted throughout the region.

This has followed significant reductions in new infections as a result of strict containment controls implemented in January.

  1. Australia Is Following Expert Public Health Advice

Whilst there has been a lot of criticism levelled at the Morrison government for confused messaging on COVID-19, there is a consensus amongst leading public health bodies that Australia is responding well.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee headed by Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, is the key decision making committee for health emergencies.

The Committee’s decisions so far have been given full support by the Alfred Research Alliance and the Public Health Association of Australia.

Whilst experts can be wrong, it is reassuring to know Australia is current following best practice in this area.

  1. Death Rates May Be Lower Than We First Thought

Calculating the mortality rate for COVID-19 has been a difficult task due to large variability across nations: as low as 0.5% in Germany and nearly 10% in Italy.

However, estimates are skewed by who is tested – meaning those with severe disease are being preferentially tested in some regions, whilst people with even mild symptoms are being tested in others.

This is a difficult task, but most reports are indicating that the mortality rates are likely to be lower than initially reported.

  1. A Vaccine Is Likely to Be Effective Once Developed

One concern that has been raised in relation to a COVID-19 vaccine is that its impact may be temporary if the virus were to mutate.

This is why you need a different flu shot each year, because the influenza virus rapidly changes overtime making the previous year’s vaccine less effective.

However, there are indications that COVID-19 has a low mutation rate, meaning once a vaccine is developed it’s likely to be a more long term solution.

  1. We Are Better Prepared for Future Pandemics

Whilst we may not appreciate this now, we are learning a lot from this current pandemic and we are likely to be more effective at containing the spread in future.

This includes a greater appreciation of the spread of disease in a globalised society and more effective measures for containment.

The pandemic is also likely to result in more well-funded health infrastructure for the next global health risk.

  1. Better, Faster Testing Is On Its Way

Responses to COVID-19 have been somewhat hindered by limited testing capability.

However, this week Australian regulators approved the importation of rapid Covid-19 testing kits that allow doctors to screen patients for the virus within 15 minutes at clinics and hospitals.

This comes as testing capabilities are improving across the country.

  1. A Clearer Strategy for Containment and Mitigation is Emerging

Within the context of the pandemic, Australia has the advantage of being able to look at what measures have worked in other countries and tailoring them to local needs.

In particular, the situation in Singapore of prioritising quarantine and workplace distancing as a preventative measure has been put forward as a useful model for containment.

  1. Public Compliance Is Likely To Be High

Whilst there is some scepticism regarding the compliance of young people with quarantine and social distancing measures, there are some glimmers of hope most Australians will be compliant.

Studies which have looked at the responses of Australians to pandemic scenarios find that once the threat is clearly understood most people are willing to comply.

One 2009 study found that given a pandemic influenza scenario 97.5% of those sampled were willing to comply with home quarantine; 98.3%, to avoid public events and 97.2% to postpone social gatherings if given accurate information.

  1. The Economic Predictions Aren’t All Dire

The economic effects of the global pandemic are likely to be dramatic, but not all of the modelling is showing a long-term recession.

Modelling by PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that, over a year, Australia’s GDP could fall by A$34.2 billion, or 1.3%.

However, there are glimmers of optimism that although a recession is a real possibility, it is likely to be short lived.

  1. It May Unite Us

Many social theorists and psychologists have been predicting the cultural effects of this pandemic, and it isn’t all anarchy and division.

Some see the pandemic as a turning point for prioritising the importance of social connections as well as health and support services.

Sociologist, Professor Eric Klinberg predicts a shift in politics with greater focus on public wellbeing, writing in Politico that:

[W]e will reorient our politics and make substantial new investments in public goods—for health, especially—and public services.

Author

Jarryd Bartle

Jarryd Bartle practised as a criminal defence lawyer before moving on to specialist consultancy. He has written for several publications including The Guardian, VICE and The Conversation, covering a range of criminal justice-related topics.

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