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.
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.