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These graphs—even when accurate—constrain our public conversation about #covid19au.

They are often very ‘zoomed-in,’ showing a few weeks from a given date (e.g. time to 100 cases).

The steepest incline in these graphs is South Korea. 1/n
We forget that these lines are graphing diagnoses not cases. The steepness can reflect testing capacity coming online and catching up with a backlog of cases.

And our obsession with the first few weeks reflects a problematic fantasy of complete prevention. 2/n
If we imagine that cases are exponential, that enables the fantasy that dramatic early intervention can prevent the #covid19 outbreak *altogether.* 3/n
Here is the zoomed-out version of the graph. China and South Korea are #1 and #3 steepest initial increases.

Please take note of what happens further along the curve: they plateau out as they adopt control measures, including very aggressive case-finding. 4/n
China only did the President Madagascar, ‘Shut. Down. EVERYTHING!’ routine in three cities. All the other 31 provinces kept schools open, markets stayed open, people went to work. As cases presented for care, they tracked down, tested and treated all their contacts. 5/n
(This is the reference, complaining about the difficulty of getting any given pathogen to infect Madagascar in the game Pandemic 2. Visually, yeah, pretty racist.) 6/n
So yeah. The steepness of the curve in the first few weeks is not really what it matters to focus on. We can’t prevent the epidemic altogether — the goal is ‘bend the curve,’ as fast as possible. 7/n
My concern with the *concept* of flattening the curve is that I think a lot of people heard it as a call for primary prevention. And that’s one way of flattening the curve. But the key to the concept is that we’re spacing out infections that we know *are going to happen.* 8/n
The simple fact is, this is a fairly contagious condition and we don’t have a vaccine. Even if (or as) we arrest rapid initial spread, the condition can still reach hundreds of thousands of cases — slowly. That’s the scenario our government is preparing for. 9/n
Now here’s the kicker — the next problem with ‘flatten the curve.’ Our hospitals have been so starved for funding, staff, equipment, for SO long, under Labor and Liberal governments alike, that there’s no realistic possibility of keeping the epidemic within their capacity. 10/n
Talking about exponential growth and doubling time in the first few weeks (a) keeps the fantasy of completely avoiding catastrophe alive, and (b) functions as a form of denial—it is keeping us from facing, and talking about, the very significant challenges ahead of us. 11/n
So please. Enough with the graphs. Yes, we must do what we can to flatten the curve, because the more we space out cases, the fewer very sick people will die. But equally, we need to learn from what other countries have done to #BendTheCurve. 12/n
There is reason for hope. Today, China reported no domestic cases of #Covid19 since the outbreak began. We will watch closely to see if the epidemic rebounds—and this is why #herdimmunity factors into our epidemic response (as a question, not a method). theguardian.com/world/2020/mar…
Oh, one last quick thing. In this thread, I'm reflecting on my own journey over the past two weeks. Earlier, I advocated a three week shutdown, with exactly that fantasy of complete prevention. This thread is about why I changed my mind. -fin-
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