While Australians have been rightly concerned about the upsurge in coronavirus cases and deaths as a result of the Victorian second wave, it is important to maintain a sense of perspective. When the Prime Minister said last week, as he frequently does, he could not imagine a better country to be in right now it was very hard to argue he was wrong.
The Health Minister, Greg Hunt, reiterated that point on Wednesday when he announced Australia had joined COVAX, a global pool to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines. Agreements have already been negotiated on the so-called "Oxford vaccine" and a University of Queensland/CSL research project.
The big difference between Wednesday's announcement and the earlier agreements is COVAX has a lot of eggs in different baskets. The $123.2 million Australia has committed, which is on top of an $80 million contribution in August, gives the government the right to purchase any of dozens of vaccines being supported should they come to fruition.
A key element of the agreement, and one which everybody should support, is that COVAX lists making vaccines available to developing countries, regardless of the depth of their pockets, as soon as they become available as a priority. This is in everybody's best interest. The World Health Organisation has made the point on numerous occasions that until COVID-19 is under control everywhere there is always a risk of it flaring up again anywhere once international borders reopen and travel between continents resumes on a significant scale.
The staggering magnitude of the resources that are being devoted to the search for a vaccine around the world reflect the fact that across much of the globe the situation is much more dire than anything Australia or our near Pacific neighbours, including New Zealand, have experienced.
Case numbers in India and across much of Africa are rising exponentially; there are serious concerns about the plight of millions of people in refugee camps in the Middle East and on the borders of Europe and Asia, and America has just recorded 200,000 deaths - a toll one US commentator described as "a 9-11 every day for 67 days".
In the UK the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, himself no stranger to the dangers of the virus, is in the process of imposing tough new restrictions on movement, social interactions, and commercial activity as the country prepares for winter. This is on the back of fears case numbers may have bounced back to 50,000 a day by mid-October with cases now doubling every seven days.
Infections hit a new record in France on the weekend with 13,000 cases identified in just one 24 hour period. That country, like Spain, Norway and the Czech republic, is also ramping up restrictions and controls in a bid to at least slow the spread of the resurgent virus.
In Australia, on the other hand, the tough - and sometimes controversial - measures introduced by the Andrews government to close down its hotel quarantine-driven outbreak are proving effective.
Measures taken by other states and territories, including the ACT, NSW, and Queensland, have also worked very well. There have been no cases in the ACT, despite the open border with NSW, for months, and there was no community transmission outside of Victoria on Tuesday. There is now talk of an accelerated relaxation of some restrictions in Victoria as early as the weekend.
The message for Australians is loud and clear. While it is important that people remember to count their blessings, it is equally important not to drop the ball. The situation can change very quickly.