Dr Chris Moy - Victorian roadmap out of COVID-19 lockdowns

7 Sep 2020

Transcript:   AMA Vice President, Dr Chris Moy, Triple M, Hot Breakfast with Eddie McGuire, Monday, 7 September 2020

Subject:   Victorian roadmap out of COVID-19 lockdowns

EDDIE MCGUIRE: The Vice President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Chris Moy, joins us this morning. A statement has come out from the AMA, and they're very supportive of the lockdown. So again, we have this battle of ideas between the medical profession and the business in so many different ways there - and a lot of people in between listening to the two of them. So, Chris has joined us this morning. Dr Chris Moy, welcome the Triple M's Hot Breakfast. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS MOY: G’day, Eddie.

EDDIE MCGUIRE: Right, Chris, take us through the AMA. First of all, you are an Association, a union, for health and medical professionals. You have to look after those people who are on the frontline - the doctors, the nurses, all the hospital people, et cetera, et cetera. So, what's your point of view? And where does it come from?

CHRIS MOY: Look, the bottom line is that a few weeks ago we were asking for the lockdown to happen earlier, and unfortunately because it happened probably a few weeks late, that's why you're in trouble you're in now at the moment in Victoria.

And you must remember that just a few weeks ago, your hospitals, particularly in north and west, were on the brink of being overrun, and that would have been a disaster. So, you've still got numbers which are showing a foundation at which it would be very easy for things to launch back into a third wave if you release things too early. And then you've basically thrown away all the hard work that you've actually done and end up in the very same situation before, and be in ultimately, in a lose-lose situation without really having gone down a plan - both in terms of health, getting overrun again; and, potentially economic as well.

Look, everybody points at Sweden, about how they handled it, but they're in as bad, if not worse, trouble despite having relaxed rules. So, anybody that points to that one isn't pointing to one that actually is something they think is going to work.

EDDIE MCGUIRE: Chris, the first tenet, I understand, when you get a medical degree, for a doctor is not to do harm. What amount of credence do you give to extreme lockdown causing harm to people? And I read from a letter of many doctors who have said that we need to take into account social, economic, family, emotional, psychological, spiritual impacts on the community, and manage this crisis in a reasonable and proportionate response. What credit do you give to the pain of lockdown?

CHRIS MOY: I fully accept that, and it is a balancing act that I do understand, and I think a lot of that is actually trying to get the balance at the moment. But, if you really look at it, you're on the brink of actually getting on top of it.

To take a sporting term, Victoria unfortunately didn't play very well in cricketing terms of doing a chase - you got into trouble, you lost a lot of wickets early, on the brink of losing- somebody played a really great innings defending, nearly got you there, but, within sight of victory somebody - if you let it go now and play a bad shot - you could lose the game and really, you know, lose all that you've actually fought for the last few weeks - and I suppose that's the thing; you don't want to lose all that you've fought for.

I understand how hard it is - we do understand the desperation; we do understand that it is hurting the people. But the thing was, was that again, you need to look back just a few weeks ago where you were. And I've heard it from my colleagues about how scared they were about having to go to work, and about not coming back to their kids again. And that's where you were, you need to get back to that sort of level there.

Having said that, we do understand the desperation. That's why we are asking people to contact their doctor, to get some help from the mental health side of things. There is telehealth, that the AMA has been fighting for, to make sure that those individuals who are really suffering out there - we do understand that desperation - can contact their doctor and get them help at this stage. But, the balance is not to let it go too early now.

EDDIE MCGUIRE: Chris, vaccine aside, where is this pandemic worldwide? What's your information? Is it getting worse? Is it getting better? Are there different strains? What are the situations? And you know, are we now in a situation where we learned from all this and that the hygiene aspects, even the wearing of masks et cetera? Is that something that we're going to have to get used to for a while?

CHRIS MOY: We're going to have to. And the problem is there is no longer term end game. What we do know is if you let it run through the place, you're going to end up in a lot of trouble, and end up in an Italy-sort of situation. But, the end game is unclear because we're not sure whether there is going to be a vaccine and how long it's going to take. We're not sure whether the virus possibly could change a little bit.

There is this little hope in my mind is that, you know, in the past some of the coronaviruses have got more benign - that means less serious - over time. We're not sure whether we're going to be able to manage it through the communities and get to a balancing act. That's where we have to be looking at the moment because that's the only one we can control, and that's to get the right balance - and get it to numbers which are manageable, more like what's happening interstate at the moment. But, you're not in the same place as the other States at the moment, unfortunately, in Victoria.

EDDIE MCGUIRE: Chris, are you able to tell us from your understanding, as the Vice President of the Australian Medical Association, right now what the best advice is on mortality rate, i.e. how many people are at risk of dying from this virus? Because we talk about active cases but we also hear from Europe that the mortality rate is going down. You mentioned Sweden, who had a lot of deaths early; up to 5000, but now have almost zero deaths as a result of many people in the community already having contracted the virus. So, what is the, from your understanding, what's the best guess on mortality rate? How many people are dying from this, as a percentage?

CHRIS MOY: Well the percentage is somewhere in the area of one per cent, but it's much higher once you go up into higher age groups - that's one thing - particularly over 50 and it starts to escalate significantly as you get older. The other thing which is really important and must be kept in mind, is we don't know what the longer term side effects of this virus is. And, to be frank, that’s something that scares me and scares me a lot about the long term effect, about whether there are long term lung or even sort of brain or other organ effects of this virus - and it's not clear. We definitely have medium term effects, about people having significant chest and brain effects in the medium term and over months.

But, we don't know whether this virus- because it's not your normal virus, this is not the flu, this is not a cold, this is something different. And the way it acts in the body is actually still not totally understood, which is the extremely frightening bit for me. In the actual molecular level, it's still not totally clear how it actually works, and these long-term effects are unclear because it hasn't been around for that long, as we know.

EDDIE MCGUIRE: Dr Chris Moy joining us, the Vice President of the Australian Medical Association, supporting the Government view. Appreciate your time this morning, Chris, thanks for joining us on the Hot Breakfast.

7 September 2020

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