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Fortress Australia is a pandemic disaster

It will be looked on as “one of the great policy disasters of the pandemic”, say Marc Stears and Tim Soutphommasane in the New Statesman. As London and New York open up, Sydney has gone into lockdown while Australia deals with an outbreak of the Delta variant. The country’s early Covid response was “magnificent” – it locked down and shut its borders while other countries “dithered” – but success led to “devastating” hubris. When the rest of the world began to vaccinate, “Fortress Australia” thought it could afford to dawdle. By the end of June, Australia had fully vaccinated just 5% of its population, one of the lowest rates in the developed world. 

Australia was undone by its blind faith in becoming a “hermit kingdom”. Many of its people have been barred from moving around the country and more than 30,000 of them are still stranded overseas. But it’s a trading nation, the prosperity of which depends on international connections. “A global pandemic cannot be defeated by wishing not to be part of the globe.”

Read the full article here (paywall)