In a very frustrating pandemic, there are so many myths floating about that it can be challenging to know which one is the most upsetting at any one time. There’s the horrifying anti-vaccine sentiment, the outright denial of COVID-19, or the more pernicious misinformation where people pretend that the disease exists but isn’t much of a problem, or you can’t control it anyway.
But for Australians and our Kiwi cousins, there’s one myth that is both extremely common online, and sounds more absurd than anything.
The idea that we’ve just been “lucky”. As anyone living in the two nations can tell you, luck had very little to do with it.
The arguments about Aus and NZ always start the same way. Maybe we’re isolated Pacific nations with small populations and no international travel. Perhaps we’re so far away from anyone else that COVID-19 just never arrived on our shores, or that if it did, we could control it more easily. Some even imply that, because Australia is in places very sparsely populated, we must have some natural protection against respiratory disease, as if the average population per square kilometre is a realistic measure of how closely people interact in cities of 3–5 million people.
Some people argue that Australia is tropical and therefore immune to disease (it isn’t, at least not in the most populated areas), or that our complete lack of public transport saved us (given that I’m writing this on a train…probably not), or maybe that since our seasons are reversed we could simply avoid the respiratory plague in our upside-down world.
But even going back to the beginning, you can see this dodgy narrative fall apart. Australia may be far away from many places, but one country we are relatively close…