Support for Queensland Chief Health Officer

You shouldn’t be sacked for being right

The Australian Institute has defended Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard from criticism over some of his comments about COVID-19 and welcomed the support he has received from the Health Minister.

Executive Director Graham Young said that Queensland’s response to COVID had not been based on the scientific evidence, and measures were disproportionate to the risks, particularly lock downs and vaccine mandates, and the outcomes would have been better if Dr Gerrard’s advice had been implemented earlier.

“It is critical that next time there is a viral pandemic Queensland follows the evidence, and Dr Gerrard is showing a commendable tendency to look for it and publicise it.

“He is being criticised for speaking truth, but he should be commended not just for that, but for research that he has undertaken to study the effect of things like long COVID.

“Our response to COVID overly relied on technical solutions when evolution and experience had provided our bodies and communities defences to the disease which were more effective, and cheaper.

“Dr Gerrard should direct some of his research capacity to studying some of these in the future. For example there is a statistical relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and severe and fatal COVID, as well as other viral diseases.”

Mr Young said that out of the list of comments for which Dr Gerrard is criticised he could only see two that were arguably wrong, and if they were wrong, they erred on the conservative side, so could have had no detrimental effect.

The list with our comments is:

* Infection was “expected, nevitable, and necessary” – vaccines have not prevented infection, and virologists knew they wouldn’t; barely a person in Queensland, vaccinated or not, has escaped the disease; studies show that natural immunity is more protective than vaccination, so this comment is true.
* A “substantial wall of immunity” would provide “significant protection from future infections” – not only was that the theory behind vaccination, but as the incidence and severity of COVID has receded with every subsequent wave, proven in practice.
* COVID is “just another respiratory virus” – it is another respiratory virus, and its current mortality rates appear to be not dissimilar to influenza, so correct, so true.
* COVID is “mild in kids” – virtually no deaths and hardly any severe illness in this age group, so correct.
* Masks “only needed when people are less than 1.5 m apart” – Cochrane Review meta-study says masks are of no demonstrated use, but there can be no harm from overprescribing this remedy.
* “Hand washing is recommended as a prmiary means of protections against COVID” – probably wrong, although could do no damage as handwashing is a good disease prevention method.

Mr Young said the CHO was also to be commended for pursuing academic studies into phenomena such as long COVID.

He is also being criticised for conducting a scientific study that determined that long COVID is similar, if not the same, as the after effects of other viral diseases.

“If this conclusion is wrong, the correct, scientific way to dispute it is to do a study, not write a public letter. Unfortunately the authors of this letter appear to think that science is done by shouting, rather than experimentation.”