The white wallaby

Andrew Macrae
3 min readMar 23, 2020

I can’t think straight at the moment.

My focus is completely shot.

I’ve lost work. I’m worried about how I’m going to pay the bills and keep my family safe.

And I’ve been stricken by the infodemic. I’m doing risk and and uncertainty calculations all the time:

  • At what point do we activate the plan to totally isolate my 76-year-old mother-in-law from the two young kids who also live in our house?
  • Is it even possible to do so in a way that will protect her, given the constraints of the physical space?
  • Does our thinking change because we live in a place with low infection numbers, a lower risk of infection, and no evidence yet of community transmission?
  • Does the high probability of breaches of the isolation policy in the house change the efficacy of isolating her at all?
  • How does the impact of isolation on her mental health and thus her immune system play into the calculation?
  • What is the likelihood she (or any of us) would get sick if we took no action, apart from standard hygiene practices and isolating the entire household as much as possible from the outside?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions.

What I do know is that if she does get sick, she has something like a one in five chance of getting very sick, and a one in 10 chance of dying — maybe higher, if the health system is overwhelmed. And maybe that overrides…



Andrew Macrae

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