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Covid – New Zealand has similar levels of freedom to Sweden

Written By: - Date published: 1:41 pm, September 6th, 2020 - 83 comments
Categories: covid-19, health, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, uncategorized - Tags:

Issues relating to Covid continue to dominate New Zealand’s politics.

In Auckland it feels like we have dodged a bullet.  The numbers of new non returning infections continues to trend downwards although regrettably there have been two recent deaths.

Fingers crossed we may again have the virus under control.  Reassuringly the new contact tracing system appears to be working.  It appears all infections can be tracked to the Coolstore or the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church. There has been a lot of testing but new community cases, of which there were two yesterday, have all been within the one cluster.  The new case yesterday was a person in quarantine as a close contact.  As I finish post it has been announced there are four new community cases today, all related to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church.

Elsewhere in the world things are not so rosy.   I follow Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish leader, on twitter.  This week she sent out a series of tweets explaining why there were further restrictions on gatherings in parts of Scotland.

She reminds me of a slightly older much more Scottish version of Jacinda Ardern.  During some really strange times in the United Kingdom she has been a beacon of solid progressive leadership.  She follows scientific advice.  And she has that habit of speaking very simply but very clearly on issues.

It made me wonder about Scotland’s Covid response.  They get lumped in with the United Kingdom so a comparison is more difficult.  But I was able to dig out some data.

Scotland’s rate of positive cases per 100,000 population is 377.6.  The UK rate is 500.

The Scottish death rate per 100,000 persons is 45.7.  The UK rate is 62.1.

New Zealand’s comparable figures are 28.7 positive cases and 4.5 deaths per 100,000 persons.

Elsewhere throughout the world Israel was held up to be another country performing well.  But a recent disappearance of political will to deal with the virus has caused a surge to occur.

And Sweden continues to struggle the assertions of Simon Thornley and others to the contrary.

The proponents of the Swedish approach are still active.  From the Herald:

Sweden, whose Covid-19 death rate soared above its locked-down Scandinavian neighbours at the peak of the pandemic, now has a case rate lower than those of Denmark and Norway for the first time since March.

“Sweden has gone from being one of the countries with the most infection in Europe, to one of those with the least infection in Europe, while many other countries have seen a rather dramatic increase,” Dr Anders Tegnell, the country’s state epidemiologist, said at a press conference earlier this week.

According to numbers submitted to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Contol, Sweden registered an average of 12 new cases per million people over the past week, compared with 18 for Denmark and 14 for Norway.

The number of deaths is currently averaging at two to three per day, down from the peak of more than a hundred a day it suffered in mid-April.

Stockholm, the centre of Sweden’s pandemic in April and May, registered the lowest number of new cases since March last week.

There are a couple of matters that need to be taken into account.  Firstly Sweden has been scrubbing its figures lately.  It also tests less than other countries.  And this table suggests that its level of lockdown is now comparable to that of Finland, Norway and Denmark, not to mention New Zealand.  The Swedish solution may be nothing more than increasing response measures to that which other more successful countries have been doing for a while.  Claims that Sweden is freer would appear to be misplaced.  With New Zealand recently coming back from level 3 the stringency requirements are very similar.

Simon Thornley in particular has been active recently and has made some extraordinary recent claims.  Like:

The Government’s objective of eliminating Covid19 is at an end, due to advice from the WHO, challenges of the Auckland lockdown, and plummeting cases and deaths internationally.

It is not, there is no such advice from WHO and cases and deaths continue to increase.  In fact on September 4 there were 304,626 notified new infections, which was a new record.  The number of daily deaths has stabilised but this is nothing to cheer about.

He also claimed this:

WHO special envoy on Coronavirus said on radio that while New Zealand had done well, it should now follow Sweden’s model.

Scientist Michelle Dickinson said on radio that “we’re going with a different strategy now – our last strategy was elimination – now its almost learning to live with a virus.”

Michelle would beg to differ.

Thornley and the Covid Plan B group want a new strategy and objective, and claims there have been miscommunication, operational mistakes, and social discord.

That is funny.

About New Zealand and it’s response Joseph Stiglitz has said:

It’s a country in which competent government relied on science and expertise to make decisions, a country where there is a high level of social solidarity — citizens recognise that their behaviour affects others — and trust, including trust in government.”

And Forbes would also beg to differ, ranking New Zealand’s response as second only to that of Germany’s.  And, get this, having the best international quarantine response.

Up against a virus that is that evil and that pernicious it has affected nearly a thousand health care workers in Victoria alone New Zealand can continue to be proud that we are holding the virus at bay.

I sense out in the electorate there is greater despondency about the virus after the second outbreak happened.  The realisation that we are probably going to go through lockdowns at different times in the future until a vaccine is discovered is not the sort of thing that you want to contemplate.

But so far the score is New Zealand 2, Covid 0 and the vast majority of people appreciate the efforts that Jacinda Ardern and the Government have put into New Zealand’s response.

83 comments on “Covid – New Zealand has similar levels of freedom to Sweden ”

  1. ianmac 1

    Yes I heard that silly man Thornley speak this morning. Uttering such nonsense while claiming status as a scientist.

    Trying to figure out what he had to gain by feeding/creating the Plan B. Does he have a fundamentalist background because that might explain faith trumping facts.

  2. Adrian 2

    Just another craven academic desperate for some limelight.

    • Incognito 2.1

      I think that is a gross misrepresentation but in any case, your comment does not address anything in a constructive way and simply attacks the messenger.

      • greywarshark 2.1.1

        All the same Adrian appears to have made a factual point there.

        For those lagging behind, like me, with all the broiling controversy replacing straight factual thinking about Covid-19 and its wider implications – note 'controversial' epidemiologist:

        Not lockdowns' – Controversial epidemiologist calls for end to …

        http://www.tvnz.co.nz › one-news › new-zealand › not-lockdowns-controve…

        23 hours ago – Dr Simon Thornley, an epidemiologist at the University of Auckland, is part of a group called Plan B. The group argues the economic damage …

        • Incognito 2.1.1.1

          All the same Adrian appears to have made a factual point there.

          No, he did not, he made an allegation and insinuation based on his biased opinion, which happens to be shared by a few here. As such, it was a takedown of the messenger and a convenient excuse to avoid having any kind of debate, which is also shared by a few here. We cannot have diversity of opinion and therefore we have to find fault with the person(s) we disagree with. I’m going to check on how my crystals are growing in the garden …

  3. barry 3

    If we followed Thornley's advice the best we could hope to achieve would be what is happening in Victoria. Although even there they are locking down pretty hard to get their outbreak under control.

    It does appear that he lives in some sort of alternative reality. The only good thing I can say is that he has been fooled by the success of NZ's strategy into thinking that it was wrong.

    • Mpledger 3.1

      Victoria had one of the most stringent lockdowns in Oz. They were kinda at level 3. It was uncaring business practice that screwed them – no social distancing on food chains, poor education/selection of security guards/old age care workers contracting across multiple facilities.

  4. Incognito 4

    If you look at overall mortality data, i.e. not just reported deaths due or attributed to Covid-19, which is dependent on methods of reporting, etc., you can see that Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales were fairing much butter during the pandemic than England, which is really one of the worst-affected countries in the World.

    https://euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps/#z-scores-by-country

    • mauī 4.1

      "during the pandemic". Ok, it's far from over.

      You could look at it like it has barely started for Scotland, N Ireland and Wales, who are completely reliant on a large shield with unknown durability for safety.

      England is perhaps half way through, had a really poor shield, but know the attacker is much more interested in Scot, NI and Wales now.

  5. One of my concerns is that those pushing plan B seem to neglect are the side effects of Covid which as time and more research shows seem to be quite severe and it will be interesting to see health effects on those who have been infected in the next few years and what the cost to the health system will be.

    I nearly choked on my morning coffee when it was said it was like the flu,thought it was the orange one talking.

    • RedBaronCV 5.1

      If some body is saying this "is just a flu" I hope there was next sentence rebuttal because that is a very dangerous conclusion to spread on national media

    • Grafton Gully 5.2

      Those pushing plan B and other policymakers should keep foremost in their minds that Covid 19 is a new disease and we need to plan cautiously as knowledge about it becomes available and experience grows. I am reassured by Ardern's calling it a "tricky virus" implying she understands how limited the knowledge base is.

      This article shows the role of autopsy in furthering our knowledge of disease. The authors' summary (my bold) emphasises our knowledge gap.

      "In summary, the most severe forms of SARS-CoV-2 certainly share some important similarities with prior coronavirus pandemics. However, COVID-19 has more complex symptoms and progression. The large spectrum of clinical manifestations and degrees of severity have only now been partially explained. Further studies may reveal new insights into the mechanisms of COVID-19."

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7343579/

  6. Patricia Bremner 6

    I wondered if he was the "Expert" Dr. Reti was speaking of?

    • Fairly sure that Thornley is one of the people that the National Party is relying on for expert help IF they get elected next month. I was appalled at his comments this morning – "Covid no worse than 'flu which kills elderly people every year".

  7. Heather 7

    I could not believe his statement ""Just like the flu", where did QandA find him? He was completely at odds with advice being given by Department of Health.

  8. McFlock 8

    I started off giving Thornley and those jerks the benefit of the doubt. Sure, the plan was always stupid, but I thought maybe they were just applying more complex equations, had differing ideas about the actual impacts of recessions vs covid as known at the time, and some educated assumptions about the course of the pandemic.

    But they've been going beyond subconscious confirmation-bias cherry-picking into lies and glaring ommissions, as detailed above and in the thread. I note that Sweden has a significantly deeper recession and more unemployment than we do. Aren't we supposed to copy them (again, not Australia now) to save jobs?

    So looking at their blatantly misleading campaign, and the fact that I doubt the PR firm is working on love, I am left with the conclusion that these fucks are getting paid to spread lies that will kill people. They're no better than merchants of woo who prey on people with cancer and tell them to avoid mainstream treatment. Worse, even – it’s conceivable that some of the woo merchants believe their own BS.

    • Anne 8.1

      So looking at their blatantly misleading campaign, and the fact that I doubt the PR firm is working on love, I am left with the conclusion that these fucks are getting paid to spread lies that will kill people.

      I go along with that and thanks for putting it in the way you have McFlock. I've had a gutsful of these publicity seeking so-called experts who think they no better than the acknowledged professionals. They remind me of the once vociferous Climate Change deniers who claimed to know better than the top scientists of the day. Don't hear much from them nowadays.

      In terms of Covid, we are the second safest country in the world. Germany just pips us to the top post.

      https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12362452

      The 20 safest countries, according to the report
      1 Germany
      2 New Zealand
      3 South Korea
      4 Switzerland
      5 Japan
      6 Australia
      7 China
      8 Austria
      9 United Arab Emirates
      10 Singapore
      11 Israel
      12 Canada
      13 Saudi Arabia
      14 Iceland
      15 Taiwan
      16 Norway
      17 Liechtenstein
      18 Hong Kong
      19 Finland
      20 Kuwait

      Sweden doesn’t even make the top 20. USA is 55th.

    • mickysavage 8.2

      Amen to that.

    • Andre 8.3

      Ok, so who might be paying them? Cui bono?

      As far as I can tell, most people can more or less carry on at level 2 and lower. Who is still really hurting? Hospitality, tourism, foreign education … anyone else?

      • McFlock 8.3.1

        Well, it's buggering interest rates as well. So the financial sector, if everything's going outside their hedge predictions.

        Gambling sector too, maybe.

        Anyone aligned with the tories. I'm moderately surprised I haven't seen anyone associated with it whose name has been previously published by Nicky Hager.

        Their website has a donate page, and that page claims they're doing it at their own cost and the pr company helped them "for free". I sure as shit don't believe that a pr company is paying staff to do it out of the kindness of the company directors' PR hearts.

        It might not be a top-down thing so much as a consultancy came up with the idea and is shilling subscriptions around possible funders.

      • woodart 8.3.2

        whos got the biggest white elephant in auckland(hint, it caught fire)

  9. PsyclingLeft.Always 9

    Indeed Mickey Savage…gotta wonder who Plan B is? Oh, sir Ray Avery (wtf) for one…

    A take down here..(quite awesome : ) I like the Contrarians description…exactly how I thought of Simon Thornley….

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018743518/covid-19-contrarians-claim-they-re-being-censored

  10. Shanreagh 11

    Simon Thornley is a twit. I am sorry I cannot reference that.

    I know about the scientific method and all that jazz but he has come right out of being able to comment as a scientist and is now involved in taking political potshots. To keep on and on is far from being someone putting another legitimate view. He should let people know the hat he is wearing or interviewers should ask, as for some time he has been taking a political line heavily disguised/confused because he is a scientist.

  11. PaddyOT 12

    " Sweden, whose Covid-19 death rate soared above its locked-down Scandinavian neighbours at the peak of the pandemic, now has a case rate lower than those of Denmark and Norway for the first time since March."

    I saw the Herald article yesterday re this quote using re-jigged maths for promoting applause for Sweden.

    Missing in the flawed Herald article was ALL the numbers.

    Norway: Deaths- 264

    Denmark: Deaths -627

    Sweden: Deaths- 5,835

    The highest number of confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the Nordic countries as of September 1, 2020 was in Sweden, where the number amounted to 84,532. Denmark followed with 17,195 cases, and Norway with 11,035 cases.

    Furthermore, using a formulated per capita death rate does not mean that the same death rate pattern would occur as the outcome anywhere else in the world if adopting another nation's ( eg. Sweden's) plan. Unique to each nation are populations of ethnicities and variable socioeconomic conditions that have proved catastrophic in a ' herd immunity' approach.

    So well done Sweden over 5000 more lives lost !

    This per capita comparison, commodifies human life and trivialises human loss as if casualties to economic survival are no big deal.

    • McFlock 12.1

      Thornley's using the abstraction of numbers to move the conversation away from the reality of what he is actually saying.

      Every death is someone who was loved and loved. Behind every death is suffering, and fear, that could have been avoided. And death is the tip of the iceberg of suffering – for every death there are dozens or hundreds of people with serious suffering, long term debilitation, and worried families.

      If he can cut out all that and turn it into an argument about math, he actually has a chance to win the discussion.

      The two questions I'd be asking him are:

      • is he being paid to spout these lies; and
      • is he hoping for an inheritance from an elderly relative who's been hanging around for a bit too long?
  12. Patricia Bremner 13

    Simon Thornley appears to be a contrarian. He opposes popular scientific and public views…because.. our system allows him this freedom. Doesn’t validate his views, and his peers outnumber him to a serious degree.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      Doesn’t validate his views, and his peers outnumber him to a serious degree.

      Same is true about climate change deniers and yet we still do almost nothing about climate change.

    • Incognito 13.2

      Indeed, there appears to be scientific consensus, which gives us some confidence in the measures taken, given that they are based on science with input from scientists. However, the Government responses and policies have also been highly politicised, which is exacerbated by the pending Election, and the public also appears to have no appetite for any kind of debate or discussion – the Election Campaigns are off to a slow start and everybody seems to suffer from fatigue with no obvious bright light in sight – just imagine Christmas in L2 or L3, with the border still closed in any case. This should give us pause for pondering, IMHO.

  13. Incognito 14

    I think the interview on Q+A was not a particularly strong one and Dr Thornley didn’t come across well, I thought. However, many here seem to choke on his comparison with the flu. I think it suggests that people have either not listened to the interview or not appreciated the context in which the comparison was made, which was limited to death/mortality/fatality rate. For example, the question about long recovery times and lasting damage that is quite severe in some cases did not come up.

    Covid-19 is a nasty flu-like virus. It is new, but it’s not unique. The Ioannidis study shows the death rate is only very marginally worse than the standard flu viruses that kill hundreds of sick and elderly New Zealanders every year. The response should be a measured one like we’ve planned for lower mortality pandemics. Not lockdowns; we’ve sacrificed our humanity, our society, and our economy for the wrong virus.

    We believe that early on the virus looked very deadly; the infection fatality rates, the case fatality rates were very high, about 3%, much greater than seasonal influenza. Now with serology data coming from many countries in the world, we’re seeing those infection fatality rates dialled way back.

    New Zealand’s response was appropriate for a more severe virus, one that we thought that we had when we had the early data, but we haven’t adjusted for the science which clearly now shows that this virus is not as serious as we first thought.

    But we know, overall, that this virus is not the deadly virus that we feared now we have seen the updated data. The Ioannidis paper clearly shows that the infection fatality from this virus is about 2 in a thousand.

    Well, we need to use the principles of infection control and what we’ve used to control the infection of other viruses with a similar mortality rate and that doesn’t involve locking down the country, locking down vast sways of our population who are at very low risk from the virus.

    Well, I think the long-term response is important here, a sustainable response that our country can continue with over a long period of time and with this virus, elimination is just simply not warranted given what we now understand from the science and the infection fatality.

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/not-lockdowns-controversial-epidemiologist-calls-end-irrational-covid-19-elimination-strategy?auto=6188160195001

    Dr Thornley’s comparison with Iceland sounded a little misinformed or disingenuous because Iceland did go in lockdown in mid-March, just not quite as stringent as NZ, and from mid-May to mid-August Iceland’s response stringency index was higher than NZ’s.

    • Muttonbird 14.1

      How have we "sacrificed our humanity"? I'd say we've strengthened our humanity.

      I happened across Thornley's name a couple of years ago when reading about Scabies. This is his area of work, not viruses.

      • Incognito 14.1.1

        It was a quote, from the interview, as you can tell by the block quote.

        Sure, if Dr Thornley is not ‘qualified’ as a scientist to speak about Covd-19, then neither are Dr Siouxsie and Prof. Shaun Hendy, for example – you can’t have it both ways just because you don’t like the views of one party. Tame did ask him about his experience in this area towards the end of the interview.

        • Muttonbird 14.1.1.1

          You're a bit sensitive today. I didn't assume you'd said what was quoted. I do know what the quote function looks like. And I'm not trying to have it both ways. I've not upheld Wiles' or Hendy's qualifications ever. Or their promotion by the MSM.

          Wouldn’t have picked you for a Plan-B member…

          • Incognito 14.1.1.1.1

            I made six comments so far today and I checked them to see where it shows me being ‘a bit sensitive’ and I have no idea what you’re on about. Let’s stick to addressing contents rather than commenters, shall we, unless you have something relevant to bring up about a commenter.

            Similarly, I have no idea why you think I would be a “Plan-B member”. In any case, it doesn’t address any content but is just a pathetic swipe at another commenter.

            • Muttonbird 14.1.1.1.1.1

              Why did you jump all over me misconstruing my comment about the quoted section? Perhaps you'd like to "stick to addressing contents".

              My comment was relevant. It was about something Thornley said and it was about my experience of Thornley's experience.

              I wasn't the one who brought Wiles and Hendy into it, you did. I'm on the record as being fed-up with the constant harvesting of doomsday expert opinion by the media for click-bait.

              You had a crack at me first accusing me of not understanding the quote function and then accusing me of wanting to have it both ways.

              • Incognito

                I didn’t ‘jump all over you’; the irony!

                I take it now that your question about us sacrificing our humanity was rhetorical and not addressed to me.

                I have no idea why you brought up scabies as Thornley’s area of work, which is an incomplete description, to say the least. If it is not to cast doubts over his credibility then I like to hear why you raised it; it comes across as another attack on the messenger. Since I cannot read your mind, your “experience of Thornley's experience” is rather meaningless.

                FWIW, I’m on record here as critical of Dr Thornley and Plan B.

                • Muttonbird

                  No, Ad showed us the other day one-liners without description or links is fine. Author/moderator behaviour is one which we follow so I fail to see why I should put in the massive amounts of effort I used to when our leaders don't do the same.

                  • Incognito

                    Huh?? I asked you why you raised the topic of scabies. I did not ask for anything else, not for a description or link or “massive amounts of effort”!?

                    If you have no intention to clarify your comments and engage with responses, why are you commenting here?

                    BTW, you might not like it but Authors and Moderators have different privileges here than commenters. You omitted mentioning the comments that were made in that thread you’re referring to; easier to spout in a context-free manner, isn’t it? To refresh your memory, here is the comment by you that started it: https://thestandard.org.nz/daily-review-02-09-2020/#comment-1747606. You’re free to draw your conclusions from that but they are not necessarily correct. Just saying, but this is really going off-topic.

                • Muttonbird

                  I take it now that your question about us sacrificing our humanity was rhetorical and not addressed to me.

                  Ya think? I was directly referring to a bit you had quoted. But you assumed I didn’t know how to read a quote. If you need people to explicitly state they are asking a rhetorical question, put it in the rules.

    • Andre 14.2

      Ioannidis is almost certainly way under on his claimed 2 per thousand infection fatality rate. New York City has recorded 23,721 COVID deaths in a population of 8.4 million, so that's a population fatality rate over 2.8 per thousand.

      I haven't seen anyone claim NYC is likely to have achieved enough infections to be close to herd immunity. The city appears to still be under restrictions similar to Auckland. If we take a wild-ass guess that maybe 25% of residents have been infected, that becomes an infection fatality rate around 1% – in line with many other credible estimates.

      Ioannidis copped a lot of criticism over his methods in the study – which is kinda ironic given his prominent role in pointing out junk science in other fields.

      https://www.wired.com/story/prophet-of-scientific-rigor-and-a-covid-contrarian/

      • Andre 14.2.1

        Here's an article that's a bit more specific about problems with the study.

        https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/04/19/fatal-flaws-in-stanford-study-of-coronavirus-prevalence/

        • Poission 14.2.1.1

          There is another post from Gelman here,and below the debate between Taleb and Ioannidis.

          Taleb.

          Both forecasters and their critics are wrong: At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many researcher groups and agencies produced single point “forecasts” for the pandemic — most relied on the compartmental SIR model, sometimes supplemented with cellular automata. The prevailing idea is that producing a numerical estimate is how science is done, and how science-informed decision-making ought to be done: bean counters producing precise numbers.

          Well, no. That’s not how “science is done”, at least in this domain, and that’s not how informed decision-making ought to be done. Furthermore, subsequently, many criticized the predictions because these did not play out (no surprise there). This is also wrong. Both forecasters (who missed) and their critics were wrong — and the forecasters would have been wrong even if they got the prediction right. .

          https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/06/17/some-forecasting-for-covid-19-has-failed-a-discussion-of-taleb-and-ioannidis-et-al/

          https://forecasters.org/blog/2020/06/14/covid-19-ioannidis-vs-taleb/

          • Andre 14.2.1.1.1

            The first reply to the first comment in the first piece says it better and more concisely than I ever could:

            Ryan says:

            June 17, 2020 at 7:58 pm

            Absolutely. In this case with such a strong feedback loop between policy decisions and the outcome of the forecast, I think that forecasts need to carry a tag to describe them as either “forecasts conditional on no policy change” or “forecasts anticipating actual policy changes”. And changes in human behaviour in the voluntary adoption of social distancing measures as the pandemic progresses fits somewhere between those two categories as well.

            There’s been a long list of critics arguing that the early pandemic forecasts in many countries were horribly wrong because some countries (like Australia or NZ) didn’t experience terrible outbreaks despite early forecasts saying they would. But this criticism is rather like saying that your doctor advised you to wear a seatbelt or you might die in a car crash – but then saying that since you wore your seatbelt and didn’t crash the doctor’s advice was worthless. That’s clearly a false statement, and doesn’t invalidate the policy recommendation, though clearly it makes testing the accuracy of the forecast after the fact near impossible because we can’t observe a “no policy change” actual outcome.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.3

      Saying its like the flu gives a false impression as it implies that people will be fine afterwards and that is most definitely not true.

      As its not true then we have to act as if its much worse than the flu because it is.

      And at that point everything he said is just more BS.

      • Incognito 14.3.1

        As I said, the question about post-infection recovery, patient condition, and health status did not come up. I think this is still a poorly quantified issue but AFAIK it is not the main driver behind our elimination strategy or a major factor in the decision-making in and of other countries. Thus, the main arguments remain the number of cases requiring hospital care (i.e. flattening the curve) and the fatality rate. To call it “just more BS” is shutting down debate and shutting out a dissenting opinion.

        • Draco T Bastard 14.3.1.1

          It can't be said that he's right because nobody's taking into account all detrimental effects of the virus. All that would indicate would be that all those effects need to be taken into account in our planning.

          Which means that his argument for dropping the present restrictions are still wrong and are, thus, still BS. Don't even need the figures for that (which I believe we don't even know) – just the precautionary principle.

    • barry 14.4

      Every serious study indicates that Covid-19 is at least 10 time more deadly than most flu. Nobody has done the same sort of analysis of IFR for flu. We don't confirm most cases of flu (even fatal ones). We have no idea of the asymptomatic percentage for flu. Lots of respiratory deaths are attributed to flu even if they have other causes.

      see https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-08-06/revisiting-how-covid-19-ranks-with-seasonal-flu-and-1918-pandemic

      • Incognito 14.4.1

        Interesting article, which explicitly avoids discussing pandemic responses and policies.

        I find it more illustrative to look at graphs than these number wizardy ‘games’. In 24 European countries combined, the number of deaths in 2020 is definitely the highest in the last four years. So far, this year they have seen excess deaths of 200,000 compared to the expected level. Fortunately, the excess mortality rates seem to have stabilised although the age group 15-64 is still trending upwards (looking at the cumulated rather than weekly numbers).

        https://euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps/

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 14.5

      His comparison with seasonal flu is weak – and as an epidemiologist you would think he knows this. He is only talking about the case fatality rate – while saying nothing of transmissibility – a huge and essential other part of the equation. Seasonal flu has a R number around 1.3 (the Spanish 1918 flu – 1.80). These numbers were from a 2014 study, they noted:

      These R values represent the difference between epidemics that are controllable and cause moderate illness and those causing a significant number of illnesses and requiring intensive mitigation strategies to control.

      So talking about the case fatality rate while ignoring ease of transmission, is simply misleading.

      • Incognito 14.5.1

        Excellent comment and a refreshing contribution to the debate, thank you!

        • UncookedSelachimorpha 14.5.1.1

          An analogy would be comparing the safety of two cars – you report they both only kill you in 10% of crashes (they're the same!! Like Flu!) – while ignoring the fact that one of them crashes four times more often than the other…

    • woodart 14.6

      comparing iceland to new zealand is specious in many ways. quite different populations ,with vastly different travel ethic.

  14. PaddyOT 15

    @ McFlock 12.1

    My guess is his reward is that 'moment of glory' the dickhead craves.

    Lucky for him atm that MSM are actively seeking dickheads for stories to instil doubt and fear deliberately at election time.

    • McFlock 15.1

      This twitter thread suggests he's packing a sad about modelling in general because he personally was apparently a bit shit at it. And points out another way he shifts goalposts to try to make it look like he has a point.

      • Incognito 15.1.1

        Where’s the thread? All I can see is one person having a self-affirming monologue with himself!?

        Is the argument that Dr Thornley is displaying his personal professional issues in public and this is the basis for Plan B? If so, it seems to overlook that Plan B is a group of people but I presume they all have issues of a similar kind – it does happen in other groupings too: like attracts like.

        • McFlock 15.1.1.1

          well, a one strand thread lol

          Yeah, it's easy to forget other people are apparently involved in this organisation too.

          I dunno. It's one thing to fuck up a recorded interview, but the written pieces also seem to have errors and ommissions incompatible with honesty, regardless of who authored them.

        • McFlock 15.1.1.2

          Funnily enough, was reading a tweet from souxsie Wiles last night and some troll was all "you must be being paid to tell these lies".

          Which led me to thinking about my own supposition, and whether it was just bias.

          Thornley/PlanB and Wiles are both qualified. But what I would say is that Wiles has been consistent about her position, and any changes in recommendations correspond to new information.

          But planB are frequently inconsistent within their own content (the twitter thing talked about swapping between CFR & IFR in the same article, for example), pertinent facts are ignored, and (most damningly) the comparator we should copy changes without explanation (Sweden to Australia to Sweden to Iceland) as each comparator inconveniently has an increase in cases.

          And then there's the idea that a PR firm would provide free consultancy, register a website (not going to include the query. IT folks know how, no need to dox anyone), and not even include this pro bono work on their website. That alone leaves a tremendous whiff of cash, a PR firm declining the opportunity for self-promotion lol

  15. observer 16

    These are Simon Thornley's people:

    https://twitter.com/simonthornley30/status/1299546937935294465

    If you believe Bill Gates has secretly visited NZ, and Muslim immigrants are to blame for the mosque massacre, and all the other deranged conspiracy theories, and you have placards with Ardern as Hitler … he's your guy.

  16. PaddyOT 17

    @ observer

    In that Herald article and in other photos of the protest yesterday in Rotorua the part that was questionable was this quote :-

    " Police monitoring the protest action across the country today were satisfied with the levels of compliance.

    "It was pleasing to see the organisers of today's protests made an effort to ensure participants complied with the level 2 guidelines." ".

    From the photos I was left wondering what level compliance actually means- no social distancing?

    • observer 17.1

      Well, they obviously didn't comply properly, but the police were sensible in not turning molehills into mountains.

      The images tonight from Melbourne show how things can get out of hand, and if that happened in NZ then the "freedom" fringe would get the publicity they want.

  17. Mpledger 18

    The ionaddes study was terribly done – and it was reported that the private funder had a vested interest.

  18. Just Is 19

    Thornley's response to Jack Tane when pushed to name a country NZ should follow, was Iceland, Iceland has a population 340,000 and a land mass greater than NZ and is ranked higher on the Worldometer, has had over 2000 cases and 10 deaths

    Incredible he would use a country with a population the size of Whangarei, Shane Reti's electorate.

    His views were absolute nonsense.

    • Muttonbird 19.1

      Thornley is a paid idiot. A front man with little expertise on the breath of issues he's been asked to have an opinion on. That much is obvious.

      It would be nice for him and the rest of us if his shadowy backers had the balls to front up themselves.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 19.2

      Thornley and company's Covid-19 'plan B' strategies are suspiciously nonsensical, and it would be interesting to hear their take on NZ’s Covid-19 safety ranking (#2 in the world after Germany) listed by Anne @8.1, but:

      Iceland's land area 102,000 km2, cf. NZ 268,000 km2.

      Iceland's population 364,000, cf. Whangarei district population ~100,000.

  19. Just Is 20

    "Thornley is a paid idiot."

    NZ seems to have more than their fair share of these "Paid Idiots" attempting to misinform the public for economic benefit.

  20. Peter 21

    What number is Thornley on National's list?

  21. PsyclingLeft.Always 22

    Who are Plan B? (well the visible ones…: )

    https://www.covidplanb.co.nz/

    Just searchin' through you find Dr Katz… etc etc.

    “The Wrong Way to Fight Coronavirus,” responded directly to Katz’s claim that younger people should no longer have to follow most social distancing recommendations. The writers argued that Katz’s approach would likely overwhelm the healthcare system and lead to many more deaths. Katz’s approach, they wrote, would also dash hopes of effectively beating back COVID-19 so that it does not reemerge every flu season.

    https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2020/03/30/former-professors-op-ed-controversial-among-health-experts/

    An associate of…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ioannidis#COVID-19

    Plan B? No thanks

  22. KJT 23

    It appears the Swedish approach has been a disaster.

    So. Now, like many others, they are belatedly attempting the same approach as NZ.

  23. Ad 24

    What we know now to what we know then is that Sweden's health system has responded pretty well.

    Whereas given what we have seen here, I would no longer trust to cope with a Swedish-scale outbreak.

    It wasn't possible to understand this properly in early March and predict which system would be "superior".

    The economic results between Sweden and New Zealand are starting to diverge. So far domestically the extensive government support packages for business and employment have helped curb the rise in unemployment, whereas in Sweden it's already heading for 9%.

    https://countryeconomy.com/unemployment/sweden

    We won't see the full impact on our second quarter results until our PREFU, but Sweden's GDP declined 8.6% in the second quarter 2020.

    https://www.scb.se/en/finding-statistics/statistics-by-subject-area/national-accounts/national-accounts/national-accounts-quarterly-and-annual-estimates/pong/statistical-news/national-accounts-second-quarter-2020/#:~:text=Sweden's%20GDP%20declined%20by%208.6,GDP%20decreased%20by%208.2%20percent.

    Both Sweden and New Zealand will have economies in sharp decline this year.

    Some are picking that we will improve next year. I still expect firms in both countries will continue to cut their workforces.

    If New Zealand keeps its headline unemployment rate below 8% I will be both impressed and grateful. That is the right and core focus of our government, and for 2020 so far it's worked out fine.

  24. woodart 25

    another take on this stupid need to find a country to compare to, would be to look at the 8000 families that have seen their granny die, and the consequences of that. swedes by nature(and I dont like to generalise this much)are a fairly lugubrious lot, long winter nights, shortage of vitamin e, etc. would think their mental health system would be very busy..add to that, they now have three neighbouring countries that dont want to mix, so swedens economy has taken more of a kicking than ours. so, freedom eh. define it!

  25. Mark 26

    people that use Sweden as an example fail to make the following observations:

    50% of Swedes are single and live alone – most infections happen at home.

    Swedish people are pretty much one bunch of people, unlike NZ that is a mish mash of groups all preserving their culture.

    they also obey the rules and adapted quickly to the new reality.

    they have a joke going around in Sweden about how they look forward to the social distancing rule of two metres hopefully being removed soon as they want to get back to the normal social distance of six metres before Covid-19.

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