Doctors pen open letter to Daniel Andrews pleading with him to scrap the State ...

Dear Premier,

We, the undersigned, are senior medical practitioners of various specialities who practice in Victoria and are deeply concerned with the Victorian government’s management of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) viral pandemic as a public health issue.

The purpose of this letter is to make you aware that not all medical practitioners are in agreement with the Chief Medical Officer and the Victorian government regarding the most effective way to control this disease. We believe that an alternative medical response is required that reflects what we know about the spread of the virus, those who have died from it, and the impact that the stage 3-4 lockdown restrictions are having on the physical and mental health of the general population.

For the sake of people in Victoria with other medical illnesses, it is vital that Stage 4 restrictions be lifted on schedule in mid-September.

This letter details our concerns and recommendations. We are ready to offer any assistance we can to help create and implement a revised, effective and just response to the Victorian situation; to this end we would be pleased to meet with you at your convenience to discuss the matter further.

Government Response to Covid-19 and Available Data

Focusing on the numbers of cases of COVID-19 is at best an unsophisticated way of looking at disease management. Factors such as the side effects of any policy, its cost effectiveness, the quality of life years lost, and the cost per life saved are fundamental when considering disease management. In addition, any policy to manage any disease must be reviewed in light of new data.

We believe that the government’s initial response to handling COVID-19, via a stage 3 lockdown to ‘flatten the curve’, was reasonable in view of the limited information available at the time on the outbreak in China and the alarming number of deaths in . The initial response, though arguably excessive, was still highly effective in preserving medical capacity and allowing time to co-ordinate a full medical response, with the community accepting that the social and economic consequences were reasonable and for the common good.

However, we now know that whilst COVID-19 is highly contagious, it is of limited virulence.

Whilst an accurate cause of death of a person can be difficult to determine, we are told that since March 2020, 565 Victorian patients have died either with or from the virus (31st August numbers). This compares with annual Victorian deaths of approximately 10,000 patients with cardiovascular disease and 11,000 with cancer. Accordingly, the COVID-19 deaths are a relatively small proportion of the 114 deaths per day that are normally seen in Victoria. In comparison, since the start of March COVID-19 has been associated with 3 of the 114 deaths per day.

Most of the 565 deaths have occurred in nursing homes which according to doctors currently working in this environment have described causal factors related not only to the virus but to other care related issues, including isolation, loneliness, and related diminished nutritional intake.

However, in Victoria we have had 541 LESS deaths this July compared to July last year. (3,561 deaths compared to 4,102 deaths in July 2019).

In Australia last year, 2019, in the month of July alone we had 71,000 new laboratory confirmed cases, and a total of 313,000 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza for the year. This is only a fraction of the actual total cases of influenza, as many cases go untested.

In August 2017 we had 99,000 new laboratory confirmed cases of Influenza and a total of over 250,000 cases for the year.

During 2017 and 2019 Influenza resulted in 25-30,000 hospital admissions and up to 2500 ICU admissions across Australia. Three per cent of hospital admissions were pregnant women and up to 18 per cent were under the age of 16.

The deaths from Influenza each and every year is between 3500 and 4000, according to the Australian Influenza Specialist Interest Group website and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is despite recent excellent rates of vaccination in the vulnerable population and millions of vaccinations utilised each year. (2020,18 million, 2019 13.2 million, 2018 11 million, 2016 8.3 million)

The vast majority of deaths associated with COVID-19 have occurred in frail people over 80 years, many of whom also had significant co-morbidities. In Victoria more than 73 per cent of known COVID-19 deaths resided in nursing homes. (381 out of 524 and 30 out of 52 in NSW, as of August 30).

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For people who are physically well and under 60 years of age, the mortality risk is extremely low. Contrary to what you have said, Mr Andrews, the virus DOES discriminate. See graphs below.

Since June 2020, the death rate has risen sharply in aged care facilities where the risk of transmission of COVID-19 has been

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