Random Analytica

Random thoughts, charts, infographics & analysis. Not in that order

Random Analytica: Australian Covid-19 Hospitalisations exceed 5,000 for the first time

We were told to not look at the daily case numbers but look at hospitalisations and ICU numbers.

I have been tracking Australian hospitalisations now for six weeks. Over the past month hospitalisations have increased from approximately 500 to 5,047 today (17th January 2022). This far exceeds the worst of the Delta outbreaks experienced in 2021.

A quick comparison between 15th December 2021 and today:

  • NSW – 166 on the 15th December 2021, now 2,776
  • Victoria – 365, now 1,229
  • Queensland – 28, now 702
  • South Australia – 2, now 227
  • Western Australia – 0, now one
  • Tasmania – 0, now 21
  • Australian Capital Territory – 3, now 52
  • Northern Territory – 0, now 39
  • Total – 564 on the 15th December, now 5,047

Anecdotally I am seeing a lot of evidence that State based health systems are struggling with the increased case-loads and the specific needs that Covid-19 patients require (i.e. separating wards as an example).

Omicron continues to surprise.

Random Analytica: Australian Covid-19 Hospitalisations (Dec-21 – Jan 22)

I have been tracking NSW hospitalisations and ICU numbers for the past week and made the realisation that other states and territories are seeing an increase in hospitalisations as well.

From the chart you can see the massive increase in hospitalisations in NSW. Using the 15th December 2021 (the date NSW opened up again for eight days) as a baseline you can see the almost 5-fold increase in hospitalisations across the board, with the exception of WA which remains largely Covid-19 free. The comparisons:

  • NSW – 166 on the 15th December 2021, now 1,491
  • Victoria – 365, now 591
  • Queensland – 28, now 265
  • South Australia – 2, now 125
  • Western Australia – 0, continuing zero
  • Tasmania – 0, now 5
  • Australian Capital Territory – 3, now 16
  • Northern Territory – 0, now 21
  • Total – 564 on the 15th December, now 2,514

Omicron continues to surprise.

Random Analytica: NSW Covid-19 Hospitalisations & ICU (Dec-21)

January 2022 is going to be interesting.

I have been hearing a lot how Omicron is less severe and that we should not concentrate on the cases per day but on hospitalisations, ICU and ventilator numbers. Here is a look at NSW hospitalisations and ICU numbers for December 2021. I chose NSW because they opened the hardest and fastest on the 15th December. Since opening the hospitalisations have increased five times and the ICU numbers almost tripled. Effectively they are the canary in the mine.

During every stage of this Pandemic we have underestimated Covid-19 and we have definitely underestimated this new variant.

Omicron is going to surprise us again.

29. Mefloquine Dispatches: Patricia Fernandez de Viana, 10th December 2021

On the final day of Hearing Block 1 for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide (DVSRC) held in Brisbane in December 2021, mother of James, Patricia Fernandez de Viana gave testimony which included a linkage to the use of anti-malarials. Via the AAP and The Guardian. Mother tells veteran suicide inquiry ADF failed to support family after son’s death. Excerpt:

Fernandez de Viana, a wound care specialist nurse, said she discovered the welter of medications her son was on when he died, including experimental treatments for malaria: “I was horrified, absolutely horrified.”

More to follow…

28. Mefloquine Dispatches: 3573 – Lambie, Senator Jacqui, 23rd April 2021

I was quite unwell when this came out and completely missed it. That said the questions are good but they don’t go far enough. They focus on the initial East Timor deployments (where mefloquine was used but Tafenoquine was the preferred option). Also, no mention of previous deployments where mefloquine was used for deployments from Rwanda to PNG. Certainly no mention of the 100-odd men who received mefloquine as part of the Sandline Affair deployment as the anti-malarial was not detailed on our medical records.

Via the Parlwork website. 3573 – Lambie, Senator Jacqui to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Her questions:

SENATOR LAMBIE asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 23 April 2021:

1. How many Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who were prescribed mefloquine during Timor-Leste deployments were later deployed to do war service in the Middle East?

2. How many ADF personnel who were prescribed mefloquine during Timor-Leste deployments went on to serve in the Middle East:

in the Special Air Service;

as commandos; and

in Royal Australian Regiments.

3. What work has been done, and is being done, to track the effects of the mefloquine trials on soldiers’ response to trauma, is data on this being monitored.

4. How many soldiers who were prescribed mefloquine during deployment to Timor-Leste were later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

5. How many soldiers who were prescribed mefloquine during deployment to Timor-Leste later attempted suicide or committed suicide.

In response dated the 21st May 2021 via the Parlwork website. As above. The response:

1. The number of ADF personnel previously reported as using mefloquine was determined based on trial nominal roles and pharmacy dispensing records. Determining those personnel who were prescribed mefloquine during Timor-Leste deployments, and who subsequently deployed to the Middle East, would require an intensive process of matching health datasets with data in personnel service record systems, including physical records going back a number of decades. Significant resources and time would be required to consolidate and interpret this data. Defence health resources are fully engaged supporting the Defence response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are unable to be reallocated to producing the requested data.

2. The answer provided to Question 1 also applies to this question.

3. No work has been undertaken, or is being undertaken, to track the effects of the mefloquine trials on ADF personnel response to trauma. The Senate Inquiry in 2018 into ADF use of mefloquine and tafenoquine, recommended against such activities.

4. As at 1 May 2021, Defence is aware of 99 ADF members who were prescribed mefloquine in Timor-Leste, being later diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst those prescribed mefloquine is similar to those who did not take mefloquine.

5. Of the ADF members who were prescribed mefloquine during their deployment to Timor-Leste, Defence is aware of seven members who have died by suicide.

27. Mefloquine Dispatches: McKinsey & Company, 19th October 2021

I completely missed this when it was very quietly released a month ago, so many thanks to Andrew Greene from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for tweeting this out today.

Via the Defence and Veteran Suicide Royal Commission. Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide to open in Brisbane. Excerpt:

Last week the Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel announced the appointment of consultants McKinsey & Company to take action to improve the claims system for supporting veterans, administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Minister is reported to have said that McKinsey & Co would be consulting with bereaved families of veterans who have died by suicide.

What?

The Royal Commission hasn’t even started and the current government is giving money to questionable consultants. The fact that staff from a consulting company would be discussing the deaths of loved ones with bereaved families is beyond my understanding. Then you have the complexities including mefloquine or tafenoquine.

In my view the McKinsey appointment doesn’t pass the pub test.

Submission to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide

My story starts in 1999 when I first self-reported about mental health concerns. To the best of my knowledge I am the only person to self-report from Operation Baritone (1997).

Two years prior, on the 22nd March 1997 the online company from 3 Brigade including a detachment from the 103rd Signal Squadron of which I was a part, commenced deployment operations for an airlift to Port Moresby as part of a Company Group deployment.

It was the first stage of a larger plan to ‘temporarily’ re-occupy Papua New Guinea during the Sandline Affair.

Things were moving very quickly. The medics and doctors were under intense pressure to get us out the door. A memory from pre-deployment was of the RMO making their notes on the back of the soldier in front of me, then the same for the next in line.

As part of our pre-deployment the company was given a number of medications including a mefloquine loading dose over three days to counteract malaria. After recent investigations I found that anti-malarials was not noted in my official medical records. I have since been able to prove that I was given mefloquine via my Red Cross blood donation history.

Long story short, the Sandline Affair works itself out without Australian intervention and Company Group is given a leave pass to get on the drink. So close though. Another Fiji, 1987.

For many years, I did not remember any detail from this period until a series of ‘flash-backs’ in 2018/19 become so bad that they hospitalised me. Ironically, it is on the 22nd anniversary of Operation Baritone I was finally admitted to a mental health facility.

Mefloquine sent me insane. I attempted suicide in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2014. When I finally confirmed what the Army had done to me in early 2019 I was angry but also a little relieved. I could finally die with a little peace.

When enough memory had returned that I was able to prove the mefloquine exposure I tried to inform all the relevant authorities. Entities such as the Army HQ, the DVA were not interested in finding these men. The Australian Defence Force Malaria and Infectious Disease Institute and the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee were sympathetic but unhelpful.

In summary:

A company of soldiers were given mefloquine in 1997, a medication which was noted by the World Health Organisation as harmful in 1989. Mefloquine has also been linked to suicides and murder-suicides, most notably at Fort Bragg in 2002. It is rarely used these days. It is a medication that the Armed Forces of many countries wish they had never used.

Some from the Company Group may be dead from their mefloquine exposure. Some, like me, are permanently damaged. Many would not have experienced any symptoms and would wonder what all the fuss is about.

At the very least the men of my Company Group assigned to the opening phases of Operation Baritone deserve to be told they were exposed to mefloquine.

For your review and consideration.

26. Mefloquine Dispatches: LBMC, 28th April 1997

I wake up. I’ve managed to snatch a few minutes or hours of blessed sleep. I haven’t slept in a couple of days. I’ve got a whole body rash. In and out of ice-baths and I cannot stop scratching. If that’s not bad enough I can’t sleep as well. Don’t know why. I blame the itching but I’m pretty wired. My hands are covered in scratches. What happened there?

I’m bored. I look around for some alcohol swabs to put on my cut-up hands. There’s none near my bed but the little box is in its place, it’s just happens to be empty. At the next bed, the same story, no swabs. I don’t want to pinch the other bloke in the wards stuff but I’m desperate. I peek over. His are gone too? Curious I go out for a walk to find the duty medic. I know her. We lived together in the same Barracks when I was posted to the BASC unit the previous year.

“Hey T*, you got any alcohol swabs?”

“Sure” she says. She comes over and checks my hands. “Ouch, I saw these when you came in”. She smiles. “Must have been a bit of a scrap?”

I just smile. It’s all a bit fuzzy.

“Anyway, I shouldn’t tell you… but you know that that bloke in the ward with you?”

“Yeah” I reply. I’m interested now. I’ve always loved gossip.

I lay my hands flat on the counter while T* gently cleans the fine wounds. It stings a little.

“Ok, the reason why you don’t have any alcohol swabs is that bloke has been chewing them all. We had to take all the alcohol swabs out of the ward. Must have a big drinking problem, do you think?”

I shrug “Makes sense, I suppose”.

Not really but we all see lots of silly shit in the Army. Medics see it more than most.

Random Analytica: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and cases of Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) by Age Group as at 8 August 2021

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has updated its latest safety report. Via the TGA. COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report – 12-08-2021. Summary:

  • To 8 August 2021, approximately 13.7 million vaccine doses have been given in Australia – 9.1 million first doses and 4.6 million second doses.
  • The TGA is continually monitoring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. The most frequently reported side effects suspected to be associated with the vaccines reflect what was seen in the clinical trials and include injection-site reactions such as a sore arm, and more general symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, fever and chills.
  • We are closely monitoring rare reports of blood clots with low blood platelets (also called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS) which have been found to be linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Early detection of this syndrome may help to prevent more serious complications developing and guidance for health professionals is now available(link is external).
  • In the last week, an additional 11 reports of blood clots and low blood platelets have been assessed as confirmed or probable TTS. Ten of these were in individuals aged 60 years or over. None of these cases were fatal.
  • The protective benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 far outweigh the potential risks of vaccination. Getting the AstraZeneca vaccine is a risk. Getting COVID-19 is demonstrably worse and can be fatal. If you can; get vaccinated. Some data points:

With approx. 7.4-million doses of AstraZeneca administered you are likely to have an adverse reaction in approx. every 71,100 doses (-2,000 from the previous week) and a fatal reaction in approx. every 1,057,000 doses (+87,000 from the previous week). For context Australia has had 37,754-cases and 947-deaths with a Case Fatality Rate of 2.51% (source: Worldometer).

Here are the stories of the seven deaths linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine to date:

1. 48-year old woman from NSW. Posted 16 April 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. NSW woman’s fatal blood clotting likely linked to AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, Therapeutic Goods Administration says.

2. A 52-year old woman from NSW. Posted 10 June 2021 via the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report – 10-06-2021.

3. A 61-year old woman from WA. Posted 8 July 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Death of 61-year-old WA woman last month likely linked to AstraZeneca vaccine.

4. A 72-year old woman from SA. Posted 12 July 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. South Australian woman dies from rare blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca vaccine.

5. A 48-year old woman from Victoria. Posted 22 July 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. TGA links deaths of 44yo Tasmanian man and 48yo Victorian woman to AstraZeneca vaccine

6. A 44-year old man from Tasmania. Posted 22 July 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. TGA links deaths of 44yo Tasmanian man and 48yo Victorian woman to AstraZeneca vaccine

7. A 34-year old woman from NSW. Posted 5 August 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. NSW woman, 34, becomes Australia’s seventh AstraZeneca-related death

Random Analytica: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and cases of Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) by Age Group as at 1 August 2021

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has updated its latest safety report. A new death was reported this week, that of a 34-year old woman from NSW. Via the TGA. COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report – 05-08-2021. Summary:

  • To 1 August 2021, approximately 12.4 million vaccine doses have been given in Australia – 8.4 million first doses and 4 million second doses.
  • The TGA is continually monitoring the safety of the COVID-10 vaccines. The most frequently reported side effects suspected to be associated with the vaccines reflect what was seen in the clinical trials and include injection-site reactions such as a sore arm, and more general symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, fever and chills.
  • We are closely monitoring rare reports of blood clots with low blood platelets (also called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia or TTS) following the AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • Three additional cases of blood clots with low blood platelets have been assessed as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) likely to be linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. When assessed using the United Kingdom (UK) case definition, 2 were confirmed and one was deemed probable TTS. Sadly, a 34-year-old woman from NSW died yesterday from confirmed TTS following a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The TGA extends its sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones. We are in close communication with NSW health who are undertaking further investigation of this case.
  • The TGA is also closely monitoring reports of suspected immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) following the AstraZeneca vaccine and reports of myocarditis and pericarditis following the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine.

Getting the AstraZeneca vaccine is a risk. Getting COVID-19 is demonstrably worse and can be fatal. If you can; get vaccinated. Some data points:

With approx. 6.8-million doses administered you are likely to have an adverse reaction to AstraZeneca in approx. every 73,100 doses (+3,100 from the previous week) and a fatal reaction in approx. every 970,000 doses (-80,000 from the previous week). For context Australia has had 35,390-cases and 932-deaths with a Case Fatality Rate of 2.63% (source: Worldometer).

Here are the stories of the seven deaths linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine to date:

1. 48-year old woman from NSW. Posted 16 April 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. NSW woman’s fatal blood clotting likely linked to AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, Therapeutic Goods Administration says.

2. A 52-year old woman from NSW. Posted 10 June 2021 via the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report – 10-06-2021.

3. A 61-year old woman from WA. Posted 8 July 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Death of 61-year-old WA woman last month likely linked to AstraZeneca vaccine.

4. A 72-year old woman from SA. Posted 12 July 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. South Australian woman dies from rare blood clots after receiving AstraZeneca vaccine.

5. A 48-year old woman from Victoria. Posted 22 July 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. TGA links deaths of 44yo Tasmanian man and 48yo Victorian woman to AstraZeneca vaccine

6. A 44-year old man from Tasmania. Posted 22 July 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. TGA links deaths of 44yo Tasmanian man and 48yo Victorian woman to AstraZeneca vaccine

7. A 34-year old woman from NSW. Posted 5 August 2021 via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. NSW woman, 34, becomes Australia’s seventh AstraZeneca-related death