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Queue jumping the Covid vaccine rollout

Written By: - Date published: 7:52 am, January 27th, 2021 - 96 comments
Categories: covid-19, david seymour, Europe, health, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins - Tags:

The politics of Covid continues.

There have been some attacks on the Government because of the latest example community infection.

For me I am astounded there have not been more.

Of course we should aim for perfection and we need to.  But since March 2020 there have been 102,727 people go through managed isolation and quarantine facilities in Aotearoa New Zealand.  There have been less than a handful of issues so far.  100% success is important when dealing with such an evil virus but everyone should get it into perspective.  And it is a collection of a number of systems that will protect us.  And right now the track and trace system appears to be doing pretty well.

The political discussion has moved onto the rollout of the vaccines and how that is going to happen.

In a highly connected word we are all in this together.  Rich nations getting the jump on the supply of vaccines will not help.  The disease will still sear its way through poorer nations and until the world’s population reaches herd immunity levels no one is safe.

I am no anti vaxer but I am more than happy for the US and UK populations being guinea pigs to make sure that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines work.  After all they were certified in less than a year which is outstandingly fast when normally it takes at least a decade to approve vaccines.

And AstraZeneca’s vaccine has had some bad publicity recently.  There are reports that the vaccine had an efficacy of 8 per cent in people over 65 years of age.  Given this is the most important sector of the population this news was initially disturbing.  AstraZeneca has disputed the claim and there are reports that the journalist misread the data but I do prefer that any potential bugs in any vaccine are ironed out before mass vaccination occurs.

But this gives the opportunity for the opposition to do what they have done for the past 10 months and claim things are terrible.

This is hitting extreme levels of pathos.

After hoping and praying the protection would fail and criticising the Government for its border response now the opposition is criticising the vaccine rollout response.  In her state of the nation speech yesterday Judith Collins said this:

Almost every other country that we compare ourselves to is rolling out vaccinations as quickly as they can. Our closest neighbour, Australia, has prioritized this with vaccinations starting within the next few weeks.

This means their citizens will be safer. They’ll have the certainty to get back to business. They’ll see international students and visitors return, and life for Kiwis who live in Australia will start to get back to normal.

New Zealanders can’t afford another lockdown. But even more than this, failing to secure vaccinations for our frontline workers, border staff and those who work in and around managed isolation and quarantine shows a massive disregard for the sacrifice New Zealanders made last year. It is not good enough.

We need to match Australia’s schedule. We should be like Singapore, rolling out the vaccine to frontline workers and those vulnerable New Zealanders who need it urgently.

Collins expresses concern that the tourism sector was decimated.  Note to Judith, until the world gets on top of Covid there will continue to be no international tourism.

ACT leader David Seymour has engaged in similar rhetoric.  From ACT’s website:

The Prime Minister and her COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins need to do what they’ve advertised following Cabinet this afternoon and make very clear when New Zealand will approve use of vaccines, when they will arrive in the country, and when vaccinations will begin,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Enough of the ‘front of the queue,’ ‘in lock step with Australia,’ and ‘sometime in the first quarter’ nonsense we’ve had to date.

“These assurances have proved either false or unacceptably vague.

It says something about the mind of a right winger that they think there is an imperative in getting to the front of the queue.  This is a world wide pandemic.  To deal with it we need the world’s population to reach herd immunity levels.  That means this unholy rush to be at the front of the queue is bound to fail because until we are all safe no one is safe.  And New Zealand currently does not need mass rollout of the vaccine.  We need to continue to be virus free.

But don’t listen to me, listen to a group are keen to represent the interests of business.

From Michael Safi at the Guardian:

Hoarding Covid-19 vaccines could cost wealthy countries at least $4.5tn (£3.29tn) in lost income this year, according to a new study that argues vaccinating poorer countries against Covid-19 is not just a moral imperative but an economic one.

The cost of fully funding the World Health Organization’s programmes to deliver Covid-19 vaccines and treatments to developing countries – currently $27bn away from their 2021 funding targets – would be dwarfed by the cost of not doing so, according to research commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce, an international business lobby group, released on Monday.

In the most extreme scenario, with populations in developed economies such as the UK’s largely protected from Covid-19 within a few months but only negligible vaccine doses administered in developing countries, global losses this year would amount to at least $9tn – more than three times the size of the UK’s economy.

Because rich economies are dependent on international supply chains that include unvaccinated countries they would bear almost half the cost of this economic drag, the report said.

“Advanced economies therefore have a clear economic incentive to speed the distribution of vaccines on a globally coordinated basis,” said the team of researchers from institutions including Harvard and Istanbul’s Koç University.

Even if developing countries were able to vaccinate half their populations by the end of the year – an unlikely scenario on the current trajectory – lost global GDP would still amount to $4.4tn, according to the study.

More than 40m vaccine doses have been administered in mostly wealthy countries since December, but middle- and lower-income nations are lagging far behind, with many not projected to be significantly immunised until at least 2025, according to some estimates.

As for the claim that the Government has failed in not securing sufficient vaccine it appears that the world is experiencing similar problems because a manufacturing plant churning out both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine is not producing as much as it had promised.  And the EU is taking steps to ensure that Europe retains much of its production.  From the Guardian:

AstraZeneca had informed the commission last Friday that there would be a 60% shortfall in its vaccine deliveries this quarter as a result of production problems at a site in Belgium. EU officials have informed the company that it must honour its contractual obligations to supply about 80m doses by the end of March.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that officials had requested that AstraZeneca divert doses from the UK to EU member states to make up on the shortfall.

A commission spokesman said: “We cannot comment on comments. However, the commission always insisted on a precise delivery schedule on the basis of which member states should be planning their vaccination programmes, subject to the granting of a conditional marketing authorisation. The matter will be discussed at tomorrow’s steering board meeting. We will re-evaluate the state of play after this meeting.”

Jacinda Ardern is good.  But even she is not able to solve problems relating to manufacturing problems in a Belgian Plant and the European Union taking steps to hold most of the production locally for use by member nations.

Like it or not the Vaccine is no silver bullet allowing us to go back to normal.  Realistically we cannot even consider reopening our borders until herd immunity has been reached and every old person, immunity compromised person and health worker has been vaccinated.  And then we cannot consider resuming bilateral travel until and unless the other country has achieved the same status.  Even with limited transmission happening under herd immunity we cannot afford to open borders with Pacific Nations until they have reached the same status.

He waka eke noa.  We are all in this together.  Queue jumping by the rich and powerful is the last thing that we need.

96 comments on “Queue jumping the Covid vaccine rollout ”

  1. Gosman 1

    NZ does not have to wait for all other nations to achieve herd immunity before we open up the borders. If NZ has herd immunity then we can allow people in to the country who might be carriers and we should be able to handle the situation. We could therefore open up the economy even if other nations have significant outbreaks.

    • Stuart Munro 1.1

      I'm curious as to how you propose NZ should achieve herd immunity before we secure a significant vaccine supply – for which we will be obliged to wait.

    • mickysavage 1.2

      Herd immunity only means that the virus will not spread and increase. It does not stop people from catching it and dying. Are you ok about bilateral travel with Samoa and NZ being responsible for the introduction of the virus there?

      • Sabine 1.2.1

        Maybe that is what should not be done.

        Kiwis travelling and then coming back sick – after all hey left healthy.

        So no bubble with OZ, or the Islands for another year or so. Yes, the petit bourgeoisie will moan and whinge after all they can only renovate the kitchen so many times, one boat is all they need, and they already had tea at the chateau and travel is now what they need. But that could be prevented.

        I have personally heard no one complain about the lack of access to vaccines but i hear people say every day that we need to close the border a bit tighter and throw the book at people that breach quarantine, and maybe keep people a bit more separated in the plague hotels, and maybe even instruct people that are about to leave to not go to 30 shops in 8 days and rather stay home another week, for safety, you know the 5 millions here that are not at fault for much and they too deserve to be kept safe.

        So no travel bubbles, and tighter border restrictions, more tests, better seperation of people that did their quarantine from those that are just arriving. It took three days from day 12 test to infect that women. All that scanning is not preventing that, nor is a vaccine.

      • Gosman 1.2.2

        That is for Samoa (in conjunction with the NZ govt) to decide. I'm not arrogant enough to decide what risks other nations wish to undertake. If they want to stop travel from here that is their right. However we should not continue to keep our borders shut to other nations because Samoa wants to be able to travel here.

    • weka 1.3

      There is currently no vaccine that would enable herd immunity. The vaccines currently available are known to have varying degrees of efficacy at stopping the person from getting covid, the illness associated with corona virus (or lessening the severity), but they still can carry the virus and pass it on.

      We don't know yet if we are going for medium term global (or country by country) elimination or a situation like with influenza where people still get it, but it's seasonal and intermittent.

      • Gosman 1.3.1

        I'm not sure your point. In either cases we have to open our borders eventually and whether the vaccine provides herd immunity or merely reduces the impact of an outbreak is irrelevant. Unless you are advocating we continue to live under a form or national house arrest indefinitely.

        • weka

          the other option is we adapt in the medium term to something between what we have now and what we had before.

          If the pandemic is largely uncontained, then there's obvious benefit to NZ in keeping the borders tightly controlled for the forseeable future. This doesn't mean forever, it means that we can't see future solutions from where we are now. But it also doesn't mean 'oh, we can't keep the borders closed forever, therefor we will have to open even if it means people dying/becoming disabled’.

          Herd immunity vs letting covid into NZ again isn't irrelevant. It's the basis upon which everything currently rests. If there is no herd immunity, then you are arguing that we allow community transmission again.

          • weka

            Also bear in mind that it's unlikely this will the last pandemic.

          • Gosman

            Your comments mention a vague wishy washy concept of keeping the borders tightly controlled for the forseeable future. What do you actually mean by that? Please specify a time frame you anticipate the borders will be effectively shut for?

            • weka

              there's literally no way to know Gosman. We don't have a full understanding of the virus yet and how infection confers immunity, we don't have a vaccine that will prevent transmission and thus enable herd immunity. It takes time for those bodies of knowledge to develop. We still haven't gotten to grips with the emerging crisis around post-covid syndromes and what that's going to mean. Not sure we even have much in the way of stats on that yet (if covid is like flu, can you imagine what would happen in NZ if a % of people became disabled every year. What would that look like in 10 years?).

              What I trust is that if we centre people and wellbeing, we will use our clever monkey brains to find solutions that work best given the nature of the situation. I'm betting that if things don't improve globally in the next 2 years that we will develop new ways of managing the border and our desire to travel that we haven't thought of yet.

              How many countries in the world have eliminated community transmission? How long for? What's the length of time that can be trusted? What are those countries' intentions and values around this? Those are the more pertinent questions imo.

              • weka

                eg when NSW and NZ has 6 months of no community transmission, would we consider a bubble? What would the conditions need to be? This is such a novel situation that everyone is still developing thinking and adjusting. This is what I mean by we can't see all the solutions yet. In time more will become obvious.

              • Gosman

                What is the point of the vaccine then if it does not prevent transmission?

                • weka

                  some vaccines prevent transmission, some stop someone from getting ill (or too ill). The current crop offer the latter, it's unclear if they offer the former. The latter, preventing and individual from getting ill, matters because that person is way less at risk of death or disability. You can see why they are starting with the front line people, those most exposed to the virus, as opposed to someone like me who has an almost zero chance of exposure atm.

                  It may be that we can develop vaccines that prevent transmission of CV. Or that lessen transmission. Afaik we don't know yet, simply because we haven't had enough time to do those studies and analysis and development.

                  • weka

                    Someone else (Incog? Andre?) can comment on this, but I assume that technically, a vaccine that prevents illness also plays a part in limiting transmission if you can get enough people vaccinated and you use other measures (social distancing, masks, contact tracing, all the things). Both because the vaccinated person is less likely to be infectious, but also the number of people getting sick will drop over time. I think. It's just that that would take more time, and there are all sorts of barriers there, including we don't know enough about the virus and what happens to humans during infection.

                    • Incognito

                      You are correct. I linked to a good explanatory article previously, which is not too technical at all.


                    • Incognito

                      From a fairly recent (dd. 12 Jan 2021) Editorial in the journal Nature:

                      Pfizer–BioNTech say they do not have evidence of what happens to immunity beyond 21 days after the first dose.

                      The JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] adds that: “Protective immunity from the first dose likely lasts for a duration of 12 weeks.” But it has not published evidence to support this.


                    • weka

                      re your second comment, so would it be fair to say the mass covid vaccination programme being run currently is also a large scale experiment? (not saying this is wrong, given the medical, political and social circumstances). And that how it is supposed to work will be worked out as they get more data and gain more understanding of how the virus works and how humans respond?

                    • Andre

                      Pfizer–BioNTech say they do not have evidence of what happens to immunity beyond 21 days after the first dose.

                      That strikes me as an extremely cautious statement given this graph:

                      from: https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/12/10/1013914/pfizer-biontech-vaccine-chart-covid-19/

                      If I were a sales weasel for Pfizer, what I'd want to say would be something like 'we have data extending to 112 days after the first dose with no apparent reduction in vaccine-induced immunity over that time".

                      As far as the current rollout, it doesn't strike me as any more or less of a mass experiment compared to large scale rollouts of other new vaccines. As an infant in the early 60s, I was one of the first few thousand given one of the recently-approved measles vaccines, do you want to consider me part of an experiment? It makes no difference to me whether I was part of an experiment or just another one of the mass-vaccinated that happened to be early in the program, someone has to be an early adopter.

                      Just maybe, there will be more attention to data gathering after vaccination compared to past similar events, but that's as much a result of the increasing data-collection in society as a whole.

                    • Incognito []

                      The explanation might be quite simple: all trial participants were given two shots 21 days apart.

                • Forget now

                  Gosman: A vaccine will not absolutely prevent the transmission of any SARS-CoV-2 virus, though it may reduce the duration and amount of viral shedding. However, it will prevent the infection progressing further into the COVID disease, and possible death.

                  But only 95% of the time for those vaccinated with the more promising vaccines. There is not enough data yet to know if the remaining 5% will have the severity of their symptoms reduced as you might hope. Also, how long the protection from vaccination lasts is an open question at this point. And that's without considering the likelihood of further mutations if the virus is not globally quelled.
                  {edit: I see Weka has pretty much answered this already. But I have typed it now, so will let it stand – sometime the same thing said in different words communicates better to different people}

                  • Gosman

                    Let's cut all the technical BS.

                    The vaccine means the virus becomes more manageable and is far less deadly and dangerous.

                    As such once we have achieved a level of coverage in NZ deemed sufficient there is little reason left to keep the border restrictions we have in place now.

                    All this nonsense about having the border protections on for the foreseeable future is crazy. Many people will not stand for an indefinite travel ban if we have vaccinations available.

                    • Forget now

                      I think I will stick with the scientific evidence, despite it being too technical for you Gosman. Nor am I willing to claim knowledge that I do not possess. If that offends you, feel free to scroll past my comments.

                      How many is many people? Enough to change the government, or just enough to be considered a gang if they were to conspire to engage in ilegal activities?

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      All this nonsense about having the border protections on for the foreseeable future is crazy. Many people will not stand for an indefinite travel ban if we have vaccinations available.

                      The "foreseeable future" is not what it was. All this nonsense about easing border protections while the number of current COVID-19 infections (~26,000,000) continues to rise is crazy.

                      Can understand why continuing "border protections" would be frustrating to some, but pandemics are part of life. It's possible that international travel will never again be as convenient as it once was.

                      We don't know how lucky we are, and were

                      International Travel Isn’t Impossible, But Travelers Need to Be Prepared

                      Precaution is the name of the game for travel in 2021 and not just by wearing masks and distancing as much as possible. In most cases, international travelers should expect to be tested multiple times throughout their travel experience, both to arrive at their destination and again to arrive home.

                      For the foreseeable future, international travel is likely to be limited to those who either have no other choice or the most determined of leisure travelers. Of course, that’s exactly the point. The CDC—and other countries around the world—are doing what they can to slow the spread of the virus and protect citizens at home. Testing requirements accomplish this both by catching contagious individuals before they can infect others and by discouraging travel altogether.

                    • In Vino

                      Gosman just seems annoyed that vaccines were not invented the way he thinks they should have been. How sad.

                • Andre

                  What is the point of the vaccine then if it does not prevent transmission?

                  A vaccine that is effective at reducing the severity of illness so that very few infected need medical treatment would have the very useful result of our medical facilities not getting overwhelmed. Even if it did nothing to reduce transmission.

                  But it would be very unusual for a vaccine that was effective in reducing disease severity to not also reduce transmission. Simply because disease severity usually correlates with viral loads, and viral loads usually correlate with transmission.

        • Enough is Enough

          And that is going to be an interesting discussion.

          It might be a year or two away but at some point we are going to have to open the borders, and when that happens the virus will enter the community, and people will die (in much the same way that influenza has for the past 100 years).

          It doesn't matter if we have 100% uptake of the vaccine, this thing is never going to be eradicated, so we will need to learn to live with it.

          • weka

            why? If it turns out to be something like influenza, but a much higher death and disability rate, why is opening the borders like they were before inevitable?

            I mean, good luck with the political party arguing that in an election year.

            • Enough is Enough

              We live with influenza. 672 people died from that virus in 2018. That number was reduced to near zero last year because of the border closures and our own social distancing.

              We mitigate the risk of that disease through the annual vaccine campaign, but even then we have hundreds of deaths.

              Covid is not going to be eradicated. I think that much is now clear. So we either close the borders forever, or at some point we manage the risk as we do with influenza. However part of that will be accepting hundreds of deaths.

              • weka

                I don't think the options are that binary. But sure, open the conversation about the acceptable numbers of deaths and disability. First question is, what's the rate of disability? How does this develop? How long does it last? What's the impact on the health and welfare systems? Effects on community, economy? Are health workers more or less susceptible? What are the potential treatments? Does lower level of covid symptoms equate to less change of disability? Why/why not? What's the rate of outliers to that?

                • Enough is Enough

                  They are all fair questions that will need to be answered, which leads me back to my original statement at "And that is going to be an interesting conversation"

                  Maybe my assessment of one to two years might be a bit optimistic, but I stand by that it will inevitably happen.

                  • weka

                    You didn't answer why opening the borders to what they were before is inevitable.

                    My thinking at the moment is that we have no way of knowing how long (which is hard for many people), but I doubt 12 months, and I will be unsurprised by 2 – 3 years unless there are major developments in the vaccine tech.

                    Mostly because the US and the UK dropped the ball so fucking badly.

                    • Enough is Enough

                      I think you have misunderstood me. I said it is inevitable that at sometime the borders will open. That isn't necessarily going to be in the the same way it was before, but part of that will be accepting a degree of risk.

                      The key will be how we mitigate that risk.

                    • weka

                      yes. Gosman's comment implied open like before I think. I see it more as we will need to manage our borders to keep NZ covid free. What that means in terms of actual regs at the border, I don't think we can forsee, or when. Too many unknowns.

                      One of the reasons this matters is that the tourism industry needs to stop acting like the borders will open like before this year, and instead adapt around the new situation.

                    • DukeEll []

                      If you are vaccinated, and carry your vaccine passport, maybe quarantine can be three days. And no one can travel without vaccination.

                      that’s putting it to best use in a travel sense.

                      then extend the vaccine passport to all vaccines and access to government and recreational services. It’s not civically minded of landlords to hold back housing in the event of regulation. It’s not civically minded to expect everything should be available to individuals if they don’t vaccinate.

                    • weka []

                      do you understand that the current vaccines don’t necessarily stop transmission of the virus? Anyone coming into the country, vaccinated or not, needs to be in 14 days MIQ.

              • Pierre

                However part of that will be accepting hundreds of deaths.

                As a morbid warning about the herd immunity strategy, the death toll in Britain just passed 100,000. The latest figure for today was 1,631 deaths. It's not really comparable to your average flu season.

                • Enough is Enough

                  I would suggest Flu without the annual vaccine would be comparable. Maybe not as deadly, but certainly something noone would accept.

                • Andre

                  Covid in a population that's never been exposed before is clearly much much more deadly than flu. So lockdown is clearly an appropriate response.

                  However, it may be that even after a widespread vaccination program, covid is still present but is knocked down in severity to be something similar to the flu. That's the point at which the conversation about lockdown vs a few hundred annual deaths becomes relevant.

                  After all, we've never considered locking down to prevent the few hundred annual flu deaths. If that is what covid becomes after widespread vaccination, why should we do things differently for it?

                  • weka

                    it's more that it's such an unknown. You'd have to factor in the disability rate too. Comparing the two sets of viruses and illnesses superficially doesn't strike me as that useful.

          • Sabine

            Well, at the moment we can have a good look at all the country that have the virus rampaging around and you know what? They are learning to die with it, rather then live with it.

            At some stage all the countries would like to go back to 'normal', mind our world as we know it died at 12 pm on March 27 2020.

            So the only thing that will happen is that we need to learn to live with the new brave world that we are inhabiting now, and simply hoping that the guy next to me dies rather then I is a bit silly and very simple minded.

            Btw, we are still very much at the beginning of this pandemic, we are still only learning what the complications will be for those that survived the virus and the illness, and at this point we know for certain that we don't have it running free in the Country. Well here is hoping it aint running free in Northland undetected or worse even has travelled elsewhere to the country at the end of the camping trip to Ruakaka.

        • The Al1en

          advocating we continue to live under a form or national house arrest indefinitely.

          Are you not free to jump on a plane and travel to any country that will accept you?

          Some house arrest, that is.

        • Brigid

          What is it that you personally are missing out on because our borders are still closed?

          What will you gain by having our borders opened? Other than the possibility of contracting the virus of course.

        • Tricledrown

          False equivalents is bread and butter for far right wing propagandists.

        • Ed1

          "we have to open our borders eventually " – Why? If vaccines are not effective with all current and future variants we may have to retain border restrictions for a very long time.

          "Unless you are advocating we continue to live under a form or national house arrest indefinitely." That is the current situation – we certainly hope travel restrictions can be eased, but when or even if that will be possible is still an unknown.

          Are you advocating we open borders sooner than the government has indicated they will be?

    • Tricledrown 1.4

      Gosman par for your post so different variants arrive in our country which the vaccines we use no longer provide immunisation.

      Just like Seymour who is just trying to make cheap political snipes .It would be smarter if we do wait till upgraded vaccines.

      Given that ACT are courting the gun toting anti govt right wing militia types ,anti vaxxers he might want to change his rhetoric.

  2. Ad 2

    +100 Mickey

  3. Andre 3

    There's levels of useful vaccine efficacy, ranging from completing preventing any symptoms and transmission, down to merely reducing the severity of illness from the disease.

    It appears that the threshold for "efficacy" in most reporting is "no symptoms". But a vaccine that just reduces the severity of disease in the hardest-hit sufferers to just that of a common cold, then it's still a very useful vaccine. The reports I've seen with a bit of nuance around the meaning of efficacy all seem to suggest the various vaccines all are very close to 100% effective in preventing severe illness.

    In terms of reopening borders and protecting our population, I've yet to see much serious consideration to whether we should require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry.

    Personally, I think it's something we really should require. Since requiring vaccination is a public health measure with a long history in travel health measures, I really don't think much of arguments that it's some kind of infringement on freedom, or that it's forcing people to submit to an unwanted medical procedure. Visiting New Zealand from overseas is a privilege, not a right, and if someone isn't happy to do a simple and safe precaution against spreading disease, well, they're the kind of anti-social arsehole we're better off without.

    • Incognito 3.1

      You want mandatory vaccination for returning New Zealand Citizens and Permanent Residents? If they refuse, New Zealand should refuse them entry because they are an “anti-social arsehole we’re better off without? I can see this being demanded by National and ACT.

      • weka 3.1.1

        yep. Next step, mandatory vaccines within NZ and then a burgeoning anti-vax movement spreading into previously pro-vax parts of the community. Even the MoH understands this is not a good approach.

      • Andre 3.1.2

        If we get to the point of allowing non citizens and non-permanent-residents immediate entry on proof of vaccination, then for any citizens and permanent residents that want to come back without vaccinating, I'd advocate for them to be required to do a managed isolation/quarantine, paid for out of their own pocket.

        Unless they've got good medical reason to not get vaccinated, then refusing an available vaccine does make them anti-social arseholes we're better off without. But the basic right of return does (barely) over-ride that.

        • Forget now

          Personally, I am concerned about non-vaccinated children (and parents) being on public school grounds later in the year. In my (too frequently ill) experience, those little people do act as a net for any bug that's going around.

          If non-vaccination has a consequence; in paying for MIQ to enter the country as Andre advocates, should there not also be consequences for not contributing to the public good, in the use of public facilities?

          But then, where do you stop? Footpaths are also public facilities.

      • Adrian Thornton 3.1.3

        Sorry to butt in here, but for some reason two of the same comment came up on M Savages cancel culture piece, could you remove one of them please, thanks.

        [RL: Done]

      • Foreign Waka 3.1.4

        Not so fast please.

        People with immune deficiencies and allergies need to make sure that they read the ingredients list of the vaccine (hopefully with their doctor) to make sure they don't have adverse reactions. There is a chance, even if small that a person has not just adverse reactions but dies. As happened in Europe recently albeit the patience were frail.

        Also remember, whilst a person is immunised, they still can be a carrier.

        So perhaps lets not go on a witch hunt and refuse people to come home. It is already stressful enough.

    • weka 3.2

      If the vaccine stops one from being too ill, but still allows the virus to be carried and passed on, what's the point of mandatory vaccines at the border? The person will still have to go into MIQ for 2 weeks.

      • Incognito 3.2.1

        Sterilising immunity is hoping for a miracle but a possibility. We won’t know till the data come in from the large clinical studies.

        • weka

          when do you think that will be?

        • weka

          I assume we don't know enough yet about how the virus operates. Do we know yet if having covid confers immunity (or what kind)?

          • Forget now

            We do know quite a bit about how the virus operates, but there hasn't been a lot of time to ascertain; the long term responses of differing human populations to the various vaccines versus natural immunity.

            At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

            We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.


            That link says 2019, but the page was last updated 20/1/21.

            It is a real problem that there are a lot of scientific corners being cut in the race for a useful vaccine. With taking on the (financial and political) risk for vaccine use, it makes sense that the government wants Medsafe to be really sure that the meds are indeed safe before they are imported:

            Pharmaceutical companies often seek indemnities when developing a pandemic vaccine, because of the need to speed up the clinical trial process…

            Treasury said the indemnity shields Pfizer and BioNTech from any potential legal action over use of the vaccine.

            The government would take on that liability.


            • Andre

              There have not been significant scientific corners cut

              The compressed timeframe was achieved by companies taking financial risks by gearing up for the next stage while trials were still underway, rather than the usual process of waiting for results to come in before even thinking about the next stage. Regulatory and approval bodies also sped things up by immediately acting as soon as data was available, rather than their usual process of maybe considering things at their convenience months or even years after data becomes available.

              This piece discusses the timeframe issue in more detail:


              • Forget now

                How many of those vaccine trials have a used a Māori vs Pākehā population sample, Andre? I have not seen any myself, and while I haven't been doomscrolling the Lancet as much as I was last year; I think I would have noticed that.

                That's a pretty significant scientific corner cut in my book, at least for rolling out European developed vaccines in Aotearoa.

                • Andre

                  Anyone that considers themselves part of some subgroup that needs specific testing will have a choice when the vaccine is offered to them.

                  They can refuse it. Compulsory vaccination has been ruled out. Refusal may have job consequences such as reassignment to other duties where risk of exposure is lower, which would be fair enough.

                  They can accept the vaccine, and consider themselves part of the trial process. After all, someone always has to go first in order to actually get data, and we can be confident the first group will include a lot of health workers that will be attuned to the possibility of side effects and waning immunity and be aware of reporting procedures.

                  They can accept that sufficient information has already been gathered for them to accept the vaccination as routine.

                  • Forget now

                    So you can't find a link for that then Andre?

                    I will certainly be taking up the vaccine when it becomes available, and recommending it to others. However, I will not be pretending that the accelerated development schedule has not left some questions marks over efficacy for different populations.

                    Also, unless there is a controlled population sample (preferably with double blinded administration), it is hard to say that vaccine recipients will be "part of the trial process". Any data produced from that would be more correlative than causative, and thus require further research.

                    • Andre

                      I'm not going to look for a link to covid vaccine trials specifically for Maori, because I really doubt they exist. I suspect very few other vaccines have had that specific trial either, just like there are very unlikely to be specific vaccine trials for Tuvan throat singers, or for specifically for Masai that follow their traditional diet of milk, meat and blood. There simply hasn't been the vaccine availability to do that trial, yet.

                      That's kind of the natural consequence of being a small subgroup. If members of that small subgroup think they're different enough to warrant special trials just for them, they either have to volunteer to effectively be part of that special trial, wait for the outcome of that special trial (which may be a very long wait), do without the benefit of the vaccine, or accept that maybe they're not special enough to warrant special treatment.

                    • Forget now

                      So; while there have been scientific corners cut, that is not significant to you because you are not personally affected, Andre?

                      Personally I would contend that everyone is a member of at least one small subgroup or other. This quote, while from more of a social-science perspective, does neatly sum up the quandry of compressing research timeframes (though with the pandemic, that's certainly justified in the astonishing rapidity with which high efficacy vaccines have apparently been developed):

                      there is no absolute guarantee that the results obtained in a study will occur in every situation outside the study. In order to determine causal relationships in a test environment, precision is of utmost importance. Yet if researchers wish to generalize their findings, scope and variance must be emphasized over precision. Therefore, it becomes difficult to test for precision and generalizability simultaneously, since a focus on one reduces the reliability of the other.


  4. Enough is Enough 4

    In this instance I have no problem with the opposition putting the heat on the government to accelerate the vaccine for our front line workers.

    We have hundreds of low to medium paid people, putting their own health and safety at risk on a daily basis by working within MIQs. It's a miracle none of them have contracted and transmitted the disease to date.

    The sooner those workers are given this added layer of protection the better.

    • The Al1en 4.1

      You're not suggesting the government should pressure medsafe into approving the drugs without them following standard procedures?

      That would be highly inappropriate.

      • Enough is Enough 4.1.1

        Medsafe will complete their standard procedures next week.

        My sister will continue to work as a nurse in an MIQ facility for a further two months before she might the get the vaccine

        • The Al1en

          As you probably know, the drug companies won't export to NZ without medsafe approval.

          As Bloomfield has stated

          New Zealand will be ready to administer vaccines to border workers as soon as doses arrive

          So as it’s already going as fast as it can, anyone “putting the heat on the government to accelerate the vaccine for our front line workers” is showboating, wasting their time, unaware of how things work, or all of the above.

          • Gosman

            Why is it taking so long here if other nations can do it faster?

            • The Al1en

              Because Jacinda hates you so much?

              Or maybe because we're doing so well compared to others the need hasn't been as great.

              First quarter of the year, they said, which is fine by me.

            • Tricledrown

              Gosman it couldn't be more obvious .

              But we don't need to panic.

              Places like the UK rushed certifying vaccines because they have the highest death rate and their health system can't cope thanks to Boris Johnston's dithering response now responsible for 100,000 deaths the worst toll in the developed world.

              Gosman your ludicrous ideas seem to mirror Boris's stupidity

              So the risks of the not fully trialled vaccine are much smaller

              • Forget now

                You mean deaths per capita of course Tricledrown? The USA's 425k (declared – I expect that to have a big jump soon now that Fauci and other evidence based health specialists are no longer been being stoodover to downplay the figures) is a lot more.

                The total number is important because (as I've been telling anyone who'd listen for a year now); the more times a virus replicates the greater the likelihood for a low-probability viable mutation. Say; one that gets around the current vaccines and sets us back to 2020 resources.

    • Anne 4.2

      Umm… have you not been following the news E is E. Time and again Ardern, Hipkins and Bloomfield have reiterated the plan that front line workers will be the first to be vaccinated followed by the more vulnerable among the population.

      But for heavens sake, they can't do it until the vaccine arrives in the country and that is entirely up to off-shore distribution services and out of NZ hands. Neither is Aussie going to come to our aid because they will want all the vaccines they get for themselves.

      The Opposition are playing dirty politics with the pandemic and it makes me sick.

      Btw, I can’t stand that Seymour p***k. He’s another snake in the grass twisting and turning whatever which way he thinks is advantageous for himself.

      • Enough is Enough 4.2.1

        Anne, I am on your side. You don't have to make this an us against them scrap. We can criticise our own team from time to time.

        Is that the same Hipkins that made this statement?


        • Anne

          Yes, I think Hipkins was being a tad optimistic there, but I don't think he was meaning we were near the top of the list of countries receiving the vaccine. Rather, he was pointing out they were well prepared and when the vaccines arrived they were "well placed" to roll them out quickly. Time will tell.

          I am on record criticising this government from time to time, but not in this instance. The attitude the Opposition are taking is mischievous. Are they trying to copy Trump?

          • Enough is Enough

            Trump didn't give a shit about covid or workers in the US contracting the disease.

            How is advocating for our front line workers to receive the vaccine as soon as possble remotely close to copying Trump?

            • Anne

              I was referring to Trump's habit of spreading misinformation and fake news. Judith Collins and 'thingimybob' Seymour play similar games.

  5. tc 5

    National/act stick to their knitting by sewing discontent via a compliant media.

    Not one reporter reminds collins she was all for herd immunity early on and a uk styled outcome for NZ.

    Disengenous, dangerous and irresponsible so no change from nact. Good post mickey.

  6. Anne 6

    I've been contemplating telling this story for a couple of days but chose to wait until we received more information about the current 'community' case:

    A young relative of mine who joined the Army about a year ago has been home on leave. One of his Army mates has just completed a security stint at one of the isolation hotels in Auckland. He, and his fellow workers were approached by a senior Naval officer and told it was time they went to wash their hands. They started to comply but a senior Army officer told them they don't need to wash their hands and to go back to their stations.

    I've been told there is a certain amount of animosity between the Army and the Navy so that might have had a bearing on the incident, but it does seem to indicate that a degree of laxity has crept in to at least one of the isolation and quarantine facilities.

    This latest scare should be enough to cause them to tighten up their processes again.

    • Sabine 6.1

      I deliver to the plague hotels.

      and its quiet easy, approach the soldier, hand over the package, give details about the business and be gone.

      However i hope that the soldier doing outdoor duties is not in contact with the peeps indoors.

      No barrier, no nothing, a table with the soldiers and two hotel staff, like its a sausage sizzle free for all.

    • weka 6.2

      there's rumours going round about the problems with the particular MIQ facility at issue this week. One can only hope that with each incident wrinkles are ironed out.

      Problems between different sectors strikes me as normal. Not sure how much that can be resolved in the short term, it will be cultural.

    • Adrian 6.3

      Its not like half the country is trying to break into them.

  7. Tiger Mountain 7

    Vaccine pinpricking from Nat and ACT seems little more than searching for an attack line that will be palatable to people that recoiled at Simon Bridges, Judith Collins, and the departed Nat MPs out of sync approach.

    There was always likely to be trouble of some kind with vaccine efficacy, testing, approval, cost, delivery and distribution etc. because the private, for profit, pharmaceutical sector was largely handed the task for OECD type countries. A nice little earn for them.

    Will the likes of Pfizer attend to Switzerland, USA, and UK elites, and follow political orders, before the rest of us are vaccinated–dunno–but “production difficulties” sounds like code for something at this juncture.

  8. Pierre 8

    Also in Britain the Tories are playing fast and loose with the vaccination timetable. The course of vaccination comes in two doses, and the current strategy is to prioritise getting first doses out to as many people as possible, while delaying the follow-up second doses. There are already about six million half-vaccinated people out there, and a lot of unknowns about what effect that will have.

    • tc 8.1

      'fast and loose' would be consistent with the Tories handling of covid from the getgo.

      A recent missive from blojo about quarantine based on where you come from being yet another on the fly call having rejected a blanket quarantine measure.

      It's why they are where they are…..tory ineptitude.

  9. Forget now 9

    Gordon Campbell has a disturbing tidbit about vaccine logistics that has completely passed me by:

    When New Zealand signed contracts with Pfizer, the understanding was that the vaccine would come in vials containing five doses. In itself, this would be a problem for a New Zealand health system more accustomed to single vial, single dose treatments. In December though, US frontline medical staff began finding that under certain conditions, it was possible to squeeze six doses out of each vial.

    In early January, and after a fierce battle with the US Federal Drug Administration, Pfizer successfully won a crucial word change to its contracts whereby the FDA grudgingly and formally conceded that each vial contains six shots, even though it takes a special “ low dead volume” syringe (and ability in using it) to extract that last shot. In addition, not every hospital or vaccinator has that equipment and the necessary extraction skills readily available.

    So… Does the wording of our 750,000 dose contract with Pfizer specify actual doses, or is the wording framed in terms of vials x 5 ? Plainly, we are at risk of being short changed in that Pfizer will be insisting that each vial contains six doses, and not the five doses originally understood. At five per vial, we would be getting 300,000 vials. At six per vial, we would be getting only 250,000 vials. Which is it ? And are all our planned vaccination centres equipped and trained in the use of low dead volume syringes?


    Whilst; "indemnity shields Pfizer and BioNTech from any potential legal action over use of the vaccine" (link @3.2.1… above), this would surely be subject to legal action over supply, rather than; use, of the vaccine? I'm not a lawyer, so the specifics of that contract eludes me.

  10. George 10

    Think perhaps of these initial vaccines as just watering down some of the worst effects of the virus and dampening it until the labs can develop more effective ones. It usually takes some years to create and develop a viable vaccine ( from my reading) and these vaccines have been produced in months, largely because of the work laid down before during the previous epidemics of SARS and MERS. And Im just an ignorant lay peasant so dont go quoting me.

  11. NZJester 11

    The big nations control, access to the vaccines and we as a small nation will be very low on the priorities of those companies making the vaccines to give us a supply any faster. Until the rich nations have had their fill we will be unlikely to see any significant amounts offered to us. Due to a 60% lower production level that expected by one supplier the EU is looking at diverting some of the supply originally promised to non EU countries such as the UK for example to make up for the shortfall in supply originally promised to their own member states.

    Where ever possible the rich are are also finding ways to queue jump.

    I just saw a story yesterday about a rich couple that flew a private jet to a remote Yukon area and lied their way in to a mobile clinic to get the vaccine intended for people in a first nations area of Canada. They broke a lot of rules and put high risk people at even higher risk to do it. They are likely to face the laughable fine of $900 each for their actions.

    Private jets are being used to get around some travel restrictions by the rich and to help them jump queues.

  12. Forget now 12

    Fem Sterling has words to say about exploiting vaccine rollouts for monetary (and other) gains. The rest of the video is worth watching for context, but this quote is from the 7:58 mark:

    What SCS wanted to do was to use the real life deliveries of Covid19 vaccinations to promote itself and Euro Truck Simulator 2. But it didn't want to do the hard work of having a backbone and turning off potential customers; even if they are antivax dickheads. So they did what Ubisoft loves doing; exploit the imagery, while trying to ditch all the implications, and baggage, that imagery inextricably carries.

    SCS is a Czech company. Czechia has nearly twice the 7day infection rate per 100,000 (443) than neighboring Slovakia (227). Even higher than the UK (359), or the USA (353)! That's the 7th highest in the world (4th of larger countries if you ignore; SB, Gibralter & Andorra – whose small size may be skewing results).

    As infections surge across Europe, the Czech Republic isn’t unique in facing a worrying second wave. It stands out, however, by the delayed response of its government – especially given how fast the new coronavirus spread in the country. On September 18, the chief medical statistician suggested that implementing public health measures on October 1, as opposed to a week earlier, would lead to hundreds of thousands of new cases (and therefore thousands of additional deaths). Yet the government waited for another three full weeks before introducing meaningful restrictions…

    regional and senate elections took place on October 2 and 3, and a widespread hypothesis suggests the Czech government consciously chose to wait until these were over before renewing restrictions, expecting the measures to be unpopular with its core electorate.

    The fact remains that a state of emergency was approved by parliament on September 30 but the first restrictions only came into force on October 9 – and, even then, these were only quite moderate, such as earlier closing hours for pubs.



  13. georgecom 13

    NZ Herald cartoon today 28/1 shows little judith collins giving her speech about housing and vaccinations. nicely puts it in some perspective, little judith

    As for vaccinations, the likes in England, the US, India, Indonesia, Argentina and Israel are rolling out their vaccination programs amidst lock downs, waves of covid sweeping through their populations and health systems stretched to the limits. NZ meanwhile is over 100 days since our last covid lockdown and, God willing, will continue for another 100 at least.

    The are presently 10 vaccines approved for use or authorised for emergency use in various countries, emergency use meaning they are not yet full tested and approved, but show signs promising enough to permit emergency usage.

    Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna from the US; AstraZenica the UK; Sputnik and EpiVacCorona from Russia; Bharat Biotech from India; Sinovac and Sinopharm (i and ii) and Cansino all from China. The Cansino vaccine is only being used for the Chinese military that I know. Sinopharm has 2 vaccine variants, unsure which one is in use. EpiVacCorona has been approved in Russia but is not used outside the country.

    Speculation and doubt exist about the efficacy of several of the vaccines, notably AstraZenica and Sinovac with different test trials yielding different rates of effectiveness. Some questions also exist about a lack of data for the Sputnik, Bharat and Sinopharm vaccines. Heaven knows about EpiVacCorona and Cansino.

    Pfizer has recently announced a slow down in delivery of vaccines as it reconfigures it's manufacturing plant(s) and most recently AstraZeneca the same. The EU is threatening to ban exports of vaccines manufactured in the Europe to ensure it's 'promised' orders are delivered. Israel, which is leading the world in vaccination rates, is reported to have paid a premium to Pfizer to be at the front of the queue. Brazilian President Jair "little Trump" Bolsonaro questioned the Chinese vaccines and then abruptly did a flip flop and welcomed them in light of few other available sources of vaccines.

    Some the obvious questions for the likes of little Judith and Seymour are – which vaccines would they like NZ to immediately purchase? What price do they want to pay? What plan do they have to accelerate NZ to the front of the vaccine purchasing queue?

    Does anyone think National and ACT have answers to those questions, or is it merely more desperate attention seeking from the same.

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