This article is based on a perspective shared by our lead physician and medical director, Dr Andrew Bradbeer, in a recent video.
The restrictions that our state and federal government have had in place over the last few weeks have been inarguably hard for a great many people. Job losses, mental health issues, and an inability to see friends and loved ones being just some of the consequences of these new laws.
But we aren’t all staying in our homes for the sake of it. Though it can sometimes be easy to forget in amongst all the things that are going on, SARS-CoV2 is still very present in our country, posing a risk to the lives of thousands upon thousands of Australians.
Saving those lives is something worth isolating for, but we need to know, is it actually working? Has all the effort we’ve gone to over the past few months really been worth it? And did we go about it in the right way?
Let’s answer those questions.
Should we have done it differently?
One of the countries that has approached the COVID-19 pandemic in a very different way is Sweden. While they’ve closed big events and some schools, the vast majority of businesses remain open, and people are free to move about as they please. The argument for this approach is that by at-risk people remaining home, and letting the virus spread through the general population, Sweden will develop a ‘herd immunity’ where it becomes difficult for the virus to spread, thus protecting those most vulnerable.
At the time of writing, Sweden’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 4,125.
Australia’s stands at 102.
Sweden has less than half as many people as us, but 40 times as many deaths.
Though the numbers paint a grim picture, they also offer us reassurance that the measures we’ve endured over the past couple of months have not been in vain. Countless lives have been saved by the millions of Australians staying at home and being socially distant. And that’s not a trivial thing.
However, as we move into a ‘new normal’ with pubs and schools soon to reopen, discussion about a potential second wave of infections is growing. And if there is indeed an influx of cases and spike in deaths, can we still say that the lockdown was worthwhile?
Have we really saved any lives?
In the words of our lead physician, Dr Andrew Bradbeer, “all we ever achieve in medicine when we save a life, is to defer the death of that person.”
Because of the restrictions in place, there are thousands of people alive right now who would otherwise be dead, regardless of the unlikely scenario of a large second wave.
To answer the question, the lockdown has absolutely saved lives.
Though it has been difficult, we can rest safe in the knowledge that lives have been saved, and this won’t be forever.
In the meantime, enjoy the easing of restrictions. See the people you love, visit the places you want but be safe about. Practice social distancing. Keep washing your hands.
There are people who need to be protected.
Manse Medical - Your respiratory and sleep medicine specialists.
This article is from Keystone Medical Media, a sub-entity of Keystone Content.