ABC health expert Dr Norman Swan has been slammed as a “Covid bogeyman” after warning 2022 was the “worst year of the pandemic”.
2GB host Ben Fordham has delivered a scathing take-down of Dr Norman Swan, slamming the ABC health expert as a “Covid fearmonger” suffering from “relevance deprivation syndrome”.
Fordham was responding to comments by Dr Swan on ABC News Breakfast on Tuesday, where the Health Report host said 2022 was the “worst year of the pandemic” and that the number of people dying was “jet crashes every week”.
“With these new subvariants coming out we’re increasing our vulnerability, lots of people are getting infected,” he said.
“A lot of people are dying. More than 5000 this year, could end up being 13,000 in a year. A bad flu season is 1500. This is the worst year of the pandemic and nobody’s talking about it.”
Three new Omicron sub-variants known as BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 have recently been detected in Australia.
The new strains appear to be more transmissible but there is no evidence suggesting they are more severe.
Dr Swan said not enough people were able to access antiviral drugs Paxlovid and Lagevrio, intended to reduce the severity of the illness.
“People who could be getting them aren’t,” he said. “This is a system issue, trying to get health care out to people.”
He added there was “no transparency at the moment”.
“We have got no idea who’s dying, whether they’ve had antivirals or not, we don’t see systemic studies of these deaths to find out how we could actually prevent them,” he said.
Host Lisa Millar pointed out that Australia was doing well compared with the rest of the world.
“We’re benefiting from a high vaccination rate, that’s why we’re getting a low rate of deaths, but the absolute numbers are high,” Dr Swan said. “These are jet crashes every week … If these were children there’d be riots in the street.”
Speaking on his Wednesday morning show, Fordham said it was “safe to say there is no bigger fearmonger than Dr Norman Swan, the ABC’s resident Covid bogeyman”.
“I think he must be bored, because we’ve learnt to live with the coronavirus so he’s not as relevant as he used to be,” he said.
“We’re trying to get on with our lives after losing two years of our lives, so Dr Swan has come in off the long run-up and he’s bowled another frightening fear campaign about Covid.”
Fordham said “forget the fact” that Australia had one of the lowest death rates and one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
“Dr Norman Swan wants to take us back to the bad old days,” he said.
“He cannot let go. This is a chronic case of relevance deprivation syndrome. I’m a bit worried about him because maybe those daily appearances on the ABC are starting to dry up. Maybe he hates the fact that we’ve all moved on. He’s got an addiction issue — addicted to peddling fear.”
The 2GB host said Australians “know coronavirus is still around, it is causing major issues in supply chains and impacting the workforce but we’ve realised we can’t stay locked up forever”.
“The lockdowns are just as damaging,” he said.
He pointed out that of the 139,000 active cases in NSW, nearly 99 per cent were mild.
“You don’t often hear that from Dr Norman Swan do you?” he said.
“Yes there are many deaths happening, 285 over the past seven days, 5000 so far in 2022, every one of them tragic. But this is not just an Australian problem, it’s happening around the world. I wonder, does Dr Swan want us to follow China’s lead and cage people inside their homes? Norman Swan won’t let go of the fear campaign.”
He added that the odds of a child dying from Covid in Australia were 0.001 per cent.
“We know it’s dangerous, we know it’s contagious, but we’ve lived through plagues, pandemics, recessions, depressions, world wars and terrorism, and Australia has overwhelmingly decided to keep calm and carry on,” he said.
“Mind you he did get one thing right on his appearance on the ABC yesterday. Dr Swan said, ‘I think people are just fed up.’ Yes they are, not only with coronavirus but also with alarmists like you.”
Originally published as Ben Fordham rips into ABC’s ‘Covid fearmonger’ Dr Norman Swan