By BRUCE Piper

The angst over the country’s current lockdown frenzy and COVID-19 immunisation rollouts is masking some statistics hinting things are actually not as bad as they are being portrayed.

A fact not being widely promulgated is that Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is actually over 60% — at least when it comes to the vulnerable over-70s population. And wasn’t that exactly the point of the phased rollout of the coronavirus jabs — to protect those most likely to end up in hospital or dead?

As I’ve said before, despite the sensational daily reporting of case numbers — many luckily asymptomatic! — the key number we should be focusing on is hospitalisations and deaths. Just over 900 Australians have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic’s onset — and 852 of them were in the 70-plus cohort.

Getting the oldies vaccinated was always a key focus, and it has worked. As we have seen from recent clusters, vaccinated people are simply not affected by COVID-19, and we are already approaching herd immunity levels of vaccination in the people most likely to die from this modern-day plague.

By contrast, other statistics not being reported much at all are the latest updates on suicide. The Health Department notes that 3,000 Australians end their lives each year — that’s about eight every day on average. More than are killed on our roads, and many many more than are dying from COVID-19.

And that’s based on pre-pandemic data. Within the travel and tourism sector we all know that the mental health toll continues to be huge, but figures on industry distress aren’t something that get shown on the nightly news.

Another statistic that is of keen interest for travel and tourism is a recent University of Melbourne study reported by the Australian Financial Review which found 75% of Australians want overseas travel to resume for fully vaccinated people.

But before we crack the bubbly, the poll also found significant resistance to vaccination, despite 60% of the 24,000 respondents wanting unrestricted travel to return once jab rates approach 80%.

We can only hope that the current lockdowns stir the country to recognise that it is possible — nay, inevitable — to live with COVID.