The John Snow Project has partnered up with OzSAGE to launch a new campaign, urging the Australian government and the public to reinvigorate our COVID strategy. Pointing out that COVID deaths are preventable, the partnership calls for reinstating ‘vaccine plus’ measures like mask-wearing and air filtration.
What is The John Snow Project?
In 1854, English physician John Snow convinced authorities to remove the handle from a local water pump. Miraculously, people in the area stopped dying of cholera, proving Snow’s theory that the disease was spreading through drinking water.
However, as soon as the immediate threat was gone, the same authorities replaced the pump handle, and by 1866 cholera had spread in the water again, killing thousands.
The John Snow Project warns against a similar fate for ‘post-COVID’ communities. Their mission is three-pronged: to “fight against deadly misinformation,” “highlight corruption and incompetence”, and “promote empirical truth over convenient fantasies”. Their website provides current, peer-reviewed scientific evidence and data from official sources.
And what is OzSAGE?
OzSAGE is an independent network of experts from a range of disciplines, formed in 2021, in response to the pandemic, as an additional resource for public health leadership in Australia. It’s inspired by the UK Independent SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies).
Members hail from public health, infectious diseases, epidemiology, Indigenous health, communications, law, data science, economics, and many more disciplines. The work they do for OzSAGE is voluntary and objective – it doesn’t support any political agenda.
Their objectives are similar to The John Snow Project. “In the midst of many competing expert opinions, OzSAGE offers well-researched and robustly debated independent expert advice,” they note on their website. “We do this to inform the common national goal of achieving an exit strategy from this pandemic with the best possible health, social and economic outcomes.”
The John Snow-OzSAGE Campaign
Both John Snow and OzSAGE have previously published calls for the Australian government to do better in their COVID management strategies.
In 2021, OzSAGE compiled a scathing report critiquing the government response to COVID, slamming the NSW Perrottet administration in particular for lifting restrictions while Omicron was surging.
“We are in the worst global health crisis of our lifetimes. So why are we ignoring it?” demands The John Snow Project over on their website.
In their new campaign, the two organisations compare government strategies to prevent road deaths to their COVID response. They question why so many preventative measures are implemented for the former and not for the latter, and point out the way road deaths are mourned publicly and individually, whereas COVID deaths become just another number.
As COVID numbers rise once more nationwide, some experts are warning we could see a new wave characterised by a “patchwork quilt” of variants. In response, they say in a media statement, “OzSAGE and John Snow Project are together calling on everyone to promote disease control.”
The campaign wants to see improvements in indoor air quality through filtration devices and CO2 level monitoring, and urges mask-wearing in public spaces. They also call for children aged 6 months to 5 years old to be vaccinated.
“We know how to solve the problem and we already have the tools to do it, but the world has chosen to do nothing,” decries The John Snow Project. As the new campaign concludes, “‘Living with COVID’ by ignoring it, is not really living.”
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