During a week in which two Covid vaccines have been announced there is disturbing news coming out of South Australia where a new more potent strain of the virus has appeared.
The strain of coronavirus wreaking havoc on South Australia has particular characteristics that are most concerning to authorities.
As the state announced it was going into a full lockdown for at least six days from midnight Wednesday in a bid to combat the latest Covid-19 wave, Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier explained the reason for the tough move.
“This particular strain has had certain characteristics,” she said today.
“It has a very, very short incubation period. That means when somebody gets exposed, it is taking 24 hours or even less for that person to become infectious to others and the other characteristic of the cases we have seen so far is they have had minimal symptoms and sometimes no symptoms but have been able to pass it to other people.”
Professor Spurrier said that characteristic meant that a generation, or stage of people passing on the virus to others, was only about three days.
“We also know, because of that characteristic, that what we call a generation, is only about three days and a generation is when one case is passing it on to the next level, and then that (next) level, so if they pass it on to two people, they will pass it on to another lot of people, and that is your third generation,” she said.
A shortened incubation period means that the potential to spread is on steriods.
The leader of the opposition has adopted a responsible attitude.
The South Australian opposition has backed the move to put the state into a six-day lockdown to try to contain a COVID-19 cluster.
Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said he supported the government’s decision and had complete faith in public health officials.
“We’re going to back in their judgment, and never doubt their motives,” he said.
“We’re going to comply with their requests, not because it’s easy, but because it’s right.
“We’re going to remain calm, steadfast and resolute in tackling this challenge in a way that only South Australians can.
“This is going to be a tough period – none of us have confronted anything like this before.”
Mr Malinauskas said those people who might lose their jobs because of the shutdown “won’t be forgotten”, and described those continuing to work in essential services as “our quiet heroes”.
“Particularly in our supermarkets and their distribution centres, I know tonight you are under extraordinary pressure,” he said.
Good luck to South Australia.
Back in New Zealand in better news the Government is moving quickly to purchase sufficient vaccines for the country.
From Radio New Zealand:
The government has reached an in-principle agreement to purchase doses of a Covid-19 vaccine for the entire population.
The agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica is subject to the vaccine successfully completing clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand.
If all goes to plan, the first doses – up to two million – would be delivered from the third quarter of 2021.
The government would then have the option to purchase up to three million more doses, which would be delivered throughout 2022.
The vaccine is likely to be single-dose and compatible with standard vaccine distribution channels, so it may be more efficient to administer.
The Government is also negotiating with a number of other vaccine developers. The intent is to have a number of different vaccines available to suit particular circumstances.
It will not be sufficient for Western Nations to secure all of the vaccines. For this global pandemic to be addressed every country will need access to safe and effective vaccines. Funding and distributing are going to show us if our current way of doing things, capitalism, is adequate. A form of socialism has worked to get us through so far.
New Zealand also needs to be mindful of the Pacific and ensure that Pacific Island nations also have access to vaccines.
The development of a vaccine also poses some interesting issues for New Zealand. When and under what circumstances do we reopen the international borders.
There is that other matter, the looming devastation of our environment to think about. This year the planet has had a short term reprive in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The problem is that this year’s reduction will have to be repeated each and every year for the next few decades if we are going to become carbon neutral.
Going back to the old way of increased consumption and air travel is not an option. How we handle the transition to a post Covid world will determine our future.