The 90% Project is an initiative of the NZ Herald that aims to make immunization information accessible to all New Zealanders so we can save lives and restore freedom. Video / New Zealand Herald
It’s a tautology to say that a week in a pandemic is substantial, but to borrow and twist Orwell’s clear line, some weeks are longer than others.
Since the government announced it would ease COVID restrictions in Auckland, it has shattered the dominant consensus around New Zealand’s COVID response and left Labor open to serious questions of consistency.
The law, followed by the National, argued that whatever strategy the government adopts is not as clearly focused on eliminating the virus as in the past.
A few days later, the two sides agreed that ending the elimination strategy (called eradication) was the right thing to do and that a policy of using vaccines and public health measures to suppress the virus was. the path to follow.
There is political dissonance on the right side of this argument and an epistemological paradox on the left side.
If the government left abolition as national and act, why should we care about their respective plans – government is already opening up, right?
More likely, the ACT and the National both have a reading room and have realized that the government is moving in that direction anyway and both really want to reap first-mover benefits as they go. will inevitably do more next year. Open up the economy.
Both shots pulled some of the best ideas from John Key’s weekend column, whose criticisms turned into dizzying levels of (very valid) circularity: These ideas are terrible, but the government still does most of them.
Act and National Wants to Be There, offers these supposedly terrifying ideas that are ultimately adopted by the government. It’s a big step for National, and a sign that it is regaining some of its confidence on the issue of the pandemic, which has been scorched by the weird and wonderful – but all too often terrible – policies of COVID in 2020.
The government is also at an impasse. With its commitment to further open up the economy, Covid is stuck in limbo, but unsure of straying from the strategy that has worked so well in the past.
For a handful of countries with a successful COVID response, opening up has been a game of snakes and ladders. Going too far, too fast, is often going back to the beginning of the pandemic: death and confinement.
Hopes that New Zealand may one day open up to the world, barring massive infections and deaths from other countries, has taken a serious hit this week from modeling by Professor Sean Hendy, who has shown that incredibly high vaccination rates will continue to move forward. The high volume of deaths, was to open up the economy.
This is clearly a problem for those “at the start” of the debate, but it is also a problem for the government, which has not been able to articulate clearly how far it will go in terms of reopening. . wants, and what does it mean to get there.
This is evident in the Prime Minister’s inability to say how the deployment of the vaccine will play a role in the eradication strategy to which he has, at least officially, committed.
Before vaccination, the government had a clear eight-point framework for changing alert levels. The four metrics highlighted trends in transmission and the CEO’s confidence in the accuracy of health data. In each case, if these eight points are met, the cabinet will lower the alert levels.
Those eight criteria were quietly dismissed last Monday – in large part because widespread transmission and a large number of unrelated cases would have forced the government to stay at Level 4 had it used the old standards. option would have been chosen.
Instead, Ardern and Chief Health Officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield both said immunization rates allowed the country to maintain an eradication strategy, while not meeting any of the eradication criteria. that the firm was using at the time.
“The difference this time around is that it’s level 3 with higher and increasing vaccination rates, and so it gives us the opportunity to increase those vaccination rates even more,” Bloomfield said.
Ardern said that “we don’t have this tool [vaccination] Back-to-back support for our alert level restrictions first. We are doing it now ”.
But this situation collapsed in a few days. Last Monday, Ardern challenged Aucklanders to achieve an immunization rate of 90 percent of eligible people receiving the first dose before the cabinet revises their COVID settings next Monday.
Eight days later, when it became clear Auckland would be a long way from achieving that target, Ardern directly said he was “not doing it”, influencing next week’s decision on the alert level. changed the situation, which he had determined.
“It has an impact on our future, but we operate under an alert level framework that has never relied on vaccines,” she said.
Ardern’s turnaround makes no sense. The current alert level framework should be based on vaccines, as it is clear that had it not been so, last Monday’s decision would not have been authorized.
The shift from a containment-based eradication strategy to a supposedly vaccine-based elimination strategy is one of the most important of all government policies.
Hendy’s modeling suggests that the level of immunization required to achieve vaccine eradication is either impossible (currently around 99 percent of the eligible population) or illegal (90 percent of the population over 5 years of age, when more than 5 percent of the population is eligible). Chances of jabs will not be accepted until next year).
Government continues efforts to open border and economy, though New Zealand’s vaccination rate is key to achieving eradication: A home isolation pilot project for business travelers – no recommended by the government border group Was – will start soon, the summer festival season will continue as normal (with vaccine passports) and New Zealanders will have a normal Christmas, with the border opening wider at the start of next year.
All of this is being tracked, as the government recognizes that COVID cases in the community may never be zero and immunization levels are on the decline.
It is difficult to see how continued community transmission, an early economy and consistently low vaccination rates amount to a sustained eradication strategy.
This epistemological paradox is understandable given the political dissonance.
The work is clearly moving towards an economy that is more open and more tolerant of COVID. What we will likely see over the next few months is a debate over whether Labor has been dragged into this position by law and the nation or whether, as Labor actions show, it is was the plan.
Act and the national must be careful. Like the Transtassman bubble, if the reopening turns out to be a disaster, they risk facing a lot of blame.