Weekly Report from the Bellingen Covid-19 Clinic: Dr Trevor Cheney

Dr Trevor Cheney gives his weekly report from the Bellingen Shire Covid-19 Clinic

Dear Bellingen Shire

8 June 2021

Celebrating scintillating citrus sweetening weather.  The cold snap this week should really make our mandarins delectable.  At least that’s what we have always been told by old timers in the valley.  Curiously I went looking for some evidence with a quick search and had trouble finding clear science on it.  Most was from gardeners and the agribusiness blogs in California and Florida where they certainly get cold snaps, but also get freezing snaps which damages fruit. Interestingly their citrus industry is worth about $9 billion  – that’s just the state of Florida.  Offers a bit of perspective on our importance in the world, eh?

Anyway it sounds a good story and it might not matter.  No one is going to really be harmed if it is right or wrong.  Enjoy your citrus this month, especially locally grown and fresh off the tree.  It’s almost like something in nature planned a healthy option at the right time for us. No doubt some folk in certain faiths have no doubt about the design concept. By the way, eating 1 or 2 oranges is much healthier than downing a glass of orange juice.  (too much sugar)

And that is about as far as I can get with poetic segues tonight after a long, late day and some long weeks, sorry.

Fortunately researchers do share lots more good science on infectious diseases, and while some of them can make bits of you look orange…. we don’t want to go there.

The events in Melbourne speak eloquently enough for themselves this week.  No mortality yet – great!  It’s not soon enough yet to be confident. After all this time I can’t answer for the woeful vaccination rates reported in disability care, or in staff of aged care. Interesting to see how large numbers of Victorians have responded to a strain that is apparently much more infectious – By suddenly dumping their hesitancy.

The initial strains of Covid19 were reported to be only about a third as infectious as measles. You may remember about this time last year there was a deadly epidemic outbreak of measles in one of our Pacific Islander nations.  In some ways the new coronavirus mutation, called Delta, makes it a bit more like how measles met indigenous people.  It is also less kind to children.  Novel and highly infectious, measles was lethal to millions. Indigenous communities understand the reality of epidemics. Whether they have the resources to deal with them is another story.

I think I have only seen measles twice in the last 25 years.  Can you guess why?

Just for interest for anyone still considering that we can indefinitely maintain our bubble, Fiji’s case numbers are now surging – 678 cases confirmed and 4 deaths in our little island neighbour. Timor Leste is having a surge over the last 2 weeks with about 7740 confirmed cases and so far only 17 have not survived – but there is time for that to catch up.  Hats off to the dedicated scientists, doctors and nurse over there trying to help them.

The ongoing global mortality rate remarkably still has not changed at about 1-2%.  This is considered a marked underestimate.  The rate of prolonged symptoms and complications in survivors –young and old- remains a lot higher, but debated.

Good news – Government has recommended opening up vaccine access to more 40-50 year olds.  The Pfizer vaccine is recommended for under 50s, though is still subject to supply limitations for many months to come.  Please check the Federal Health “vaccine eligibility checker”, or in our region people under 50 can contact the Coffs Harbour Hospital Hub.

As GPs we are still only getting one type of vaccine.  We don’t get to choose which we can provide.  You hear a lot of noise about 1 or the other, and still at the end of the day I can see minimal qualitative difference between the 2 available in Australia, except that 1 is now readily available,

and Winter is coming,

and respiratory viruses like Winter.


Please remember this is just one (slightly worried) perspective, so check with your own sweet GP, who has the good juice on lots of ways to keep yourself safe and well.


Dr Trevor Cheney


  • Peggy Edman says:

    love your stories

  • Marg Newby says:

    Thanks for your constant assuring information.
    Our son and wife who live in Laos are double vaccinated aged 40, our son and wife who work in hospital in Sydney are double vaccinated aged 43 , my mum in aged care is vaccinated once aged 91 and my husband and I once aged 67and 70 ..myself having Lupus. What saddens me is I could not visit my mum last week until I could have my flu shot (done now) but very few of the carers at the centre have had covid shot and there doesn’t seem to be any move to make it compulsory.
    We can make people wear seat belts, not speed, have safety harnesses and scaffolding compulsory but not have a vaccine compulsory that will save lives and allow me to see my family again. A funny world we live in or sad. 😪

Leave a Reply