I’m still seeing a fair number of people advocating for ‘opening up’ on the basis of either individual responsibility (‘I’m vaccinated’), and/or fuck the lazy/selfish bastards (‘never mind 90% vax rate, we can’t wait’).
Underlying this seems to be the idea that the vaccine will save us. I just saw someone say that there is absolutely no risk to New Zealand if they were to travel from Queensland (in an area where there is no covid), as they have been double vaccinated. It’s a problem that this far in there are still people who don’t understand how the vaccines work in individuals and as a public health measure.
The Pfizer–BioNTech and Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the highly infectious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — but their protection drops away over time, a study of infections in the United Kingdom has concluded.
The vaccine developed by Oxford and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in Cambridge, UK, was 69% effective against a high viral load 14 days after the second dose, falling to 61% by 90 days.
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02261-8 (19 August 2021)
Those figures don’t mean the vaccine is useless, it means the vaccine is one tool among many and we need to use all the tools together strategically, rather than relying on any one in isolation.
The vaccines are tools to help limit spread and reduce risk to individuals. They’re not a panacea. The ‘helping limit spread’ thing needs multiple tools in addition to vaccination, including controls on borders, periodic lockdowns, MiQ, mask wearing, hand washing, distancing etc.
The debate right now isn’t ‘when can we open up again?’ It’s how can we manage those tools to balance the needs of various groups and the governance of New Zealand as a whole for our short, medium and long term wellbing?
Auckland is doing the heavy lifting right now, and has been for weeks on end. Understandably many Aucklanders are stressed and frustrated, some highly so, and the pressure on businesses affected by lockdown is intense.
Lots of people are frustrated with the government not doing better. I tend to the view that delta is a second pandemic and we are having to learn anew how to manage. I also understand that there are people in government who haven’t had a break since the pandemic began. That’s high stress, and we need to pay attention to this being a long commitment, not something that will be over in the next six months and then everything goes back to a slightly altered normal.
I suspect that 2022 will a hard year for New Zealand. Either we open up to the point that covid is in the community across the whole country and we have whole new set of stressors to deal with as death and disability rates climb, our precarious health system stumbles a lot more, and we have to figure out how to manage waning protection from the vaccine.
Or we try and contain covid as much as we can, which means more periodic lockdowns, and having to adapt at a much deeper level across society – think major changes to industry and work sectors as businesses fail, how to diversify education, redesigning cities and suburbs to make containment more tolerable or even enjoyable. If that seems extreme, factor in a new variant worse than delta.
I’m listening to Māori a lot currently, and disabled people. I wish I was hearing more from the elderly, Pasifica and other vulnerable groups (vulnerable to covid, but also vulnerable to neoliberalism’s entrenched poverty which increases risk in multiple ways). These are the people that will be disproportionately affected individually and in their communities.
But, these are also the people who hold some of the solutions to the challenges we are facing.
It’s pretty clear that despite Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Crown has failed to protect Māori to the same level as Tau Iwi.
Instead,each of our whānau ora collectives of which all are strong Māori health services providers were to go through their individual DHBs to seek funding. A pepper potted approach based on someone else determining the solutions for what works best in our communties doesn't work
— Awerangi (@awerangi) October 4, 2021
We can blame Labour or ‘the government’ but this ignores the reality of longstanding issues within the Health system from decades of neoliberal fuckery and that make centralised control a high priority and cultural safety a low priority. It breaks my heart that New Zealand is still so bad at letting Māori look after themselves, because of the sovereignty tearing impact on Māori, but also because New Zealand as a whole would benefit from many of the ways that Māori approach problem solving.
Rates of vaccination in disabled people are too low, and I’m seeing hardly anyone talking about this.
I’m seeing centre lefties shift towards authoritarianism.
lefties (tbf, mostly centre lefties) arguing for the removal of human rights in NZ because we've lost so many rights already in the past 18 months, or because covid means we have to, is a sight to behold.
Now is exactly the time to strengthen human rights, not let them go.
— weka (@wekatweets) October 10, 2021
If there was any point in our lived history for being kind, for reasserting kindness as a deep value, this is the time. Kindness and fairness. There’s a storm coming, much bigger than the one we are in now, and we need our values to be set and straight, not veering off into meanness and self-interest.
If we understand covid as a long term crisis, then it means that attending to Te Tiriti becomes even more important. New Zealand as a whole has much to learn from Māori about prioritising people, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
We also have a great resource in the disabled community, who are experts at adapting to limitation in creative and life affirming ways.
I also believe that we should be merging the pandemic response with climate action and addressing the ecological crises. Both those things are worsening while our attention is elsewhere, but the good news is that mitigation and adaptation for all three can go hand in hand. A small example: delta requires us to spend more time outside, this is something that can bring many health, social and ecological benefits. If that means time in our neighbourhood, how about we spend the next year making our neighbourhoods good places to be.