Some thoughts on the recent spike in SARS-Cov2 cases in Victoria

A natural reaction of many was to assume that the recent spike in SARS-Cov2 cases in Victoria was in part related to the Black Lives Matter protests a few weeks ago, but there does not seem to be direct evidence for this. Instead, the explanation at the moment is that the current spike comes from “extended family gatherings inside homes where people weren’t following social distancing were largely to blame for the “concerning” rise in cases.”

I haven’t looked at the data that lead them to that conclusion, but ok, fair enough.

However, I have seen some people arguing recently that you would be an idiot (or just misguided) for thinking that the protests could have lead to the spike in the first place. One rationale given for this is that we should have expected a spike in all states, since they all had protests.

Well, not necessarily, and here’s why.

Victoria has had the highest number of new daily cases of any state since the 2nd of May, with NSW being second on most of these days. Victoria has comprised 68% of all Australian cases since the 2nd of May (NSW was 21% over this time).

If the number of cases was higher in Victoria than other states and *if* protests had contributed to community spread of SARS-Cov2, we should naturally expect to see a larger increase in Victoria. Now, this doesn’t seem to have been the case on further investigation, but it could have been, so calling people idiots by this logic seems not nice.

Of course if this was the case, perhaps we should have expected a smaller but noticeable uptick in NSW cases. From the data I’ve displayed below (from the above linked source), it’s kind of hard to tell. No major trend of uptick can be seen in NSW at least.

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On a less related note, I think it’s possible to support the BLM movement but think at the time that the protests may have lead to an increase in SARS-Cov2 cases (this is especially notable since Covid19 disproportionately affects black communities). Everyone makes their own judgement, whether they realise it or not, on whether the benefit of the protest outweighs the risk (if they’re not thinking about it, they’re deciding it’s worth the risk by default).

The point I’m about to make is less strong, since I don’t have evidence that the same individual people are making these two conflicting claims, but it seems like it might be the case. Here goes anyway:

There were probably some people who railed against the anti-lockdown protests (particularly those in USA) for being reckless and leading to an increase in SARS-Cov2 transmission, but think that the BLM protests were worth it. Unless they’re just saying that they think the risk of transmission is only worth it for causes they think are right, this seems hypocritical.

It’s like when people criticised animal rights protests in Melbourne last year for blocking traffic, but supported the union protests for blocking traffic in Melbourne in the same week. You don’t get to do that and claim that you are arguing against the protest method – you need to admit that you just support one protest message and not the other. The same applies for BLM vs anti-lockdown protests in the times of Covid19.

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