The Golden Ticket

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, September 24th, 2021 - 110 comments
Categories: australian politics, covid-19, health, jacinda ardern - Tags:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claimed yesterday that a very high vaccination rate in New Zealand would represent a “golden ticket” and make level 4 lockdowns redundant. What could that mean that’s positive for New Zealand?

So if we peek over the horizon to January 2022, what might a very high rate of vaccination mean?

Getting to 85% vaccinated would be possible if the 5-12 year olds can get it. That puts it in the well-oiled public health machinery of primary and intermediate schools.

It is a range that puts us in the rarefied company of such countries as Portugal, Singapore, Iceland, Denmark, and Qatar.

It is yet another competitive differentiator away from Australia.

Australia is in the category of “needs to take action”, as distinct from New Zealand’s “Countries Beating Covid-19”.

By February 2021 Australia’s ABC News could see the differentiators.

For Vietnam it was a low-tech hard and fast response.

For Taiwan, extensive public health infrastructure and experience with SARS.

For Thailand, an army of volunteers.

For Cyprus, border controls and lockdowns.

For Rwanda, public trust in the public health system.

For Iceland, sophisticated and widespread testing.

As a distant and small country with few natural resources and a tiny population, we need as many advantages as fate throws our way.

Denmark and Singapore are small successful states that we often use as policy comparators.

Singapore’s Teo Yik Kang the Dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, said in August 17th this year that “If countries start to move towards an endemic COVID-19 strategy, the expectation is that there will be more related death, although it is still unclear how many of these will be excess mortality and how many could have occurred regardless of COVID-19.” That requires citizens giving the government and the public health system the social license to treat a level of death and morbidity as a public health background noise similar to road deaths and annual colds.

Is New Zealand really ready for the kind of case number surges that have occurred in Singapore as a result of this public policy?

Denmark has vaccinated 84.5% with a double dose of Pfizer. They are a small country with a sophisticated agricultural base, a social democrat framework and very high trust in government.

More than 353,000 Danes have got infected so far and 2,614 have died of it.

To deal with Denmark’s consequences of re-opening up society and the relative huge surge in cases, Denmark has had to more than double New Zealand’s current intensive care per capita.

Our health system doesn’t have that capacity and would take far too long to get there.

The Danish approach probably wouldn’t work entirely.

Our severity of regulatory response is what we do instead of a first rate health system that could deal with it. We have the social cohesion and trust in government to do that, thankfully.

Neither Singapore nor Denmark have Maori and Pasifika populations that are hard to get to and low on vaccinations on average. New Zealand has that combination to itself.

Freedom of movement is the right we don’t want to lose again.

International travel tracing is well developed. It does appear that the digital passport for proof of disease-free status is on its way as it has been in Denmark.

Lots of countries are considering it for international travel, particularly using the International Air Transport Association (IATA) technology.

Cross-regional and cross-city tracing has a lot of potential if our transport operators can be forced to cooperate with the public health system. We need to move, but we also need to be safe.

Optimism that either Auckland Transport or NZTA will be able to integrate QR codes into regional or national ticketing systems is not high, given that NZTA have been working on that for well over a decade.

But as we found under Levels 3 and 4, because inter-regional travel is as problematic for COVID spread as international travel, personal tracing through mandatory identification as they already do for tolled roads or HOP CRD, Snapper Card, and SuperGold, is inevitable. It’s the new price of movement.

The Golden Ticket Ifs

If we can get to 90% vaccinated including those 5-12 years, and

if we can get an upgraded ICU health system to cope as Denmark and Singapore are having to, and if we can in fairly quick order unify our health system away from false regional boundaries, and if we can re-tool a health system in time to support Maori and Pasifika vaccination rates as they have over the last 6 months, and if we can get transport systems to identify personal movement or otherwise keep us safe, and if we can keep our social cohesion and live with a higher background rate of death and morbidity, then we can get freedom of movement back, and then we can live with COVID.

That’s a lot of probabilistic if’s with just three months before we put our “Golden Ticket” in the hands of 2022. And it is probably our only good path.

110 comments on “The Golden Ticket ”

  1. Gezza 1

    “Our severity of regulatory response is what we do instead of a first rate health system that could deal with it. We have the social cohesion and trust in government to do that, thankfully.”

    Just looking at the daily news items, reporting ever more lockdown-breakers – it looks like lockdown fatigue / lockdown stir-craziness is likely to increase with any more Lockdown 4 regimes.

    So the more people we can get vaccinated, obviously, the better. Especially as vaxed folk like moi can still get, and shed, Covid-19.

    Dunno how I feel about being tracked wherever I go. Doesn’t really appeal. Bad enuf feeling like every device one uses these days Google, fb, various websites etc are tracking you. And forking over your data to others.

    • Ad 1.1

      Do you have a mobile phone?

      • Robert Guyton 1.1.1

        I can understand why people might be anxious about having their internet browsing behaviour tracked, but assume it already is, and why they might be concerned that their spending history could be followed, which I also assume is readily visible to anyone determined to know what you've spent and where you spent it, but why the anxiety about knowing which locations you visit throughout the day? Perhaps someone might set me straight?

        • Ad 1.1.1.1

          Just look up any address and it tracks it from where you are, wherever you are.

        • Gezza 1.1.1.2

          Given how bloody clever cyber crims are these days, I’m always concerned about my smartphone getting hacked. Especially after a friend of mine up North dropped out of contact for a while. Then she sent me a text saying “Sorry not been in touch. My phone got hacked!”

          • Ghostwhowalksnz 1.1.1.2.1

            Use a smartphone security , I use eset for up to 5 devices, both android and microsoft.

            Where possible dont use your smartphone for some things like email or banking. Email is a common way for hackers to get in.

            I turn off the GPS function on smartphone, and disable the options in apps that want to use it. I turn off camera and microphone options for apps that want that, other than camera and calling of course. Most apps can have their options restricted like this.

            The other method is to use airplane mode more often, effectively removes you from network…try it while you travel and only turn back on at home etc.

            • Gezza 1.1.1.2.1.1

              Looks like some excellent tips & advice there, Ghosty

              Ta very much. Gonna copy that to iPad Notes.

              Re your: “Where possible dont use your smartphone for some things like email or banking. Email is a common way for hackers to get in.”

              Yep I already figured that, & I never use email or do online banking on my smartphone. I also don’t keep any personal identifying data in my Galaxy’s Notes or other apps. I’ve kept my apps almost entirely to the defaults it came with.

              And I don’t sync my smartphone to other devices.

      • Gezza 1.1.2

        @ Ad

        Yep, got a smartphone. Put off getting one for S long as I could tho. I just carried on for as long as I could using a flip top 3G mobile, which I preferred because of its compactness. And it was a prepay. I’d just top it up as needed. They had no personal data in their records like Google does with my Galaxy smartphone.

        I only went to a smartphone when the 3G-mobile’s battery was at the end of its life & I couldn’t get replacement.

        On my smartphone I tried to switch off location for any app that didn’t require it to run. Had to enable location for the camera tho.

        • Ad 1.1.2.1

          Location trackers are just part of life.

          There's no right to spatial anonymity.

          • Gezza 1.1.2.1.1

            “There’s no right to spatial anonymity.”
            …………………………..

            There isn’t now. There used to be. Or at least, only your Visa & Eftpos cards tracked your financial location when you spent $.

            The price of easy access to internet has been having to surrender personal data to companies who reserve the right to exploit tracking you.

            • Ad 1.1.2.1.1.1

              Businesses are not even required to take cash.

              We must simply accept perpetual surveillance as the price of free movement.

              Probably Jacinda wouldn't quite put it as baldly as that.

              • alwyn

                "Businesses are not even required to take cash".

                I think it is a little more complicated than that. If you want to buy something and tender cash for the item that is merely an offer. The second part of creating a contract is that the vendor can accept or refuse the offer. If they don't want cash, or more generally legal tender, they don't have to do so as they don't have to accept your offer.

                If, on the other hand, you have reached the stage where you have incurred a debt to the vendor you can offer legal tender to settle the debt. That would be the case where you have taken possession of the goods. Settling your debt is a unilateral action.

                There are various rules about whether cash, and in particular coins, are legal tender. If you want to pay a large debt with small denomination coins you can't insist on it as the amount may exceed the limit for it being legal tender.

                ps. Those certainly were the rules in New Zealand. I don't bother to keep up the niceties of the matter anymore so I may be out of date.

                • Ad

                  The Assistant Governor of the NZ Reserve Bank stated back in in 2019 that there was no obligation for businesses to accept cash.

                  https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/do-you-want-right-pay-in-cash#:~:text=%22At%20the%20moment%20there%20is,dollars%2C%22%20Mr%20Hawkesby%20said.

                  If you really want to go into the legalities of what is considered "legal tender", have a go at this extensive legal opinion from the RBNZ:

                  https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/-/media/reservebank/files/publications/bulletins/2007/2007sep70-3mcbride.pdf

                  • alwyn

                    Yes. It was the second link that I was trying to paraphrase. That is about the difference between the offer of cash for goods, which does not have to be accepted, and the settlement of a debt, which in practice did as if you refused it you had no means of enforcing the payment of the debt. I think RNZ went a bit far in interpreting what the RBNZ Deputy Governor actually said. He was talking about the "offer" of legal tender in the making of a contract..

                    • KJT

                      For a contract to exist requires, "offer", ,"acceptance" and "consideration," (Down payment) which can be anything the contracting parties accept as having value. Cash or electronic exchange of bits is valid though it could be something else of value to the parties. Verbal contracts are equally valid. Of course a written contract, and exchange of money (legal tender) is easier, when you require proof of a contract in court.

                    • Ad

                      I expect by December Christmas this year most retailers will not only NOT take cash, they will ONLY take contactless card transactions ie no more standard EFTPOS cards.

                      1 contact, 1 germ, 1 outbreak that kills their business.

                  • pat

                    The day NZ businesses refuse to accept cash NZD for payment is the day that the loss of sovereign issuance begins to occur…..Zimbabwe know what that is like.

                    • McFlock

                      That day happened at least sometime last year. All card on campus now – coffee, printing, everything.

                    • Graeme

                      Whether this is business led or consumer led is hard to tell. In our business we've seen a gradual move away from cash over the last 20 years, or you could say a gradual move toward card payment over the last 20 years. We still accept cash, but now take so little, like none, we don't keep a float in the till any more.

                      The biggest change in the move from cash has been at the bank, they don't need tellers to process the deposits so most branches now only have one teller when the same branch would have had 4 or 5 20 years ago. In our case we used to bank every other day with cheques and NZ and overseas cash, now we can go 3 or 4 months without making a branch or atm deposit. It all goes through the eftpos machine.

                    • alwyn

                      I last took out cash from my bank account was, as I have just checked, on the 1st of June. I took out $100 and I still have $90 in my wallet. I probably had $10 in cash when I withdrew the money

                      I have therefore used only $20 cash in almost 3 months.

                  • pat

                    begin

                    /bɪˈɡɪn/

                    verb

                    3rd person present: begins

                    1. 1.

                      perform or undergo the first part of (an action or activity).

                    • pat

                      @Graeme

                      Whether it is consumer driven (which as you describe it is driven by economics for the banking system) is largely irrelevant….if the system develops to the point whereby the issued currency becomes of little or no use then the ability of the state to determine the volume and velocity of that currency diminishes….it has the potential to advance the uptake of the likes of CDCs, something all currency issuers fear and for good reason.What control governments then?

                      Or the issuance of Central Bank DCs with the complete control of all aspects of everyones lives.

                      Neither are desirable outcomes.

            • McFlock 1.1.2.1.1.2

              Not for the history of cellphone networks. they all track ywhich towers you are pinging and signal strength as part of network maintenance. But many a crim got nabbed by the location of their cellphone when the crime happened.

              • Macro

                Exactly. So even if you just rely on an old 3g mobile your travels can still be traced by your telecom provider. That is unless you switch it off.

                In the past my nephew has given expert witness statements for the prosecution on the whereabouts of a defendant.

          • Simbit 1.1.2.1.2

            Actually there is.

            The Signal Code

            • Ad 1.1.2.1.2.1

              So is that a right to spatial anonymity?

              When you sign up to your provider, you are agreeing to share where you are, so you have given up any reasonable expectation of privacy.

              – You've already made a public disclosure of facts

              – You've already disclosed facts of a previously private nature

              – None of the location details are in and of themselves offensive

              – And there's plenty of argument to be made about a legitimate public concern to have one's location details available to the public.

              Nothing to be afraid of, and no right to defend in the first place.

        • Robert Guyton 1.1.2.2

          I don't have a phone. If ever I get lost, I'm going to have to rely on my embedded tracker 🙂

          • Ad 1.1.2.2.1

            … that and the fact that Riverton only has a total of seven actual streets.

            • alwyn 1.1.2.2.1.1

              Are you quite sure about that? It could be that you are just a person with an average memory and 7 is apparently the average number of things that people can remember in short term memory. Maybe there are a few more but 7 is your limit.

              https://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/capsules/experience_jaune03.html

              I thought it was really only four. I remember hearing an interview with the chap who had first developed the use of PIN codes. He said that the number of digits being limited to 4 was because that was the biggest number that his wife would be able to remember. If I had tried some wise crack like that I wouldn't have dared to go home, or at least I wouldn't have dared to turn my back on my wife when she was near anything she could hit me with.

              • Ad

                OMG Alwyn. There are more than 7 streets in Riverton.

                • alwyn

                  More than 7! Really? Last time I went through I blinked and missed it. To be fair that was a long long time ago.

                  On the other hand, looking at Google Maps I see that it is an enormous place. And there was me thinking it was about the size of Ongaonga in Hawkes Bay. It has about 4 streets.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 1.1.2.2.2

            Home phone only. People enjoy showing me (at a distance) what you can do with smart phones, which is a win-win; they think they're helping me, and I think I'm helping them – everyone likes to feel useful.

            My biro and notebook are a bit burdensome, but I've gotten used to the extra weight and haven't forgotten them in ages – good for all sorts of things.

            Once upon a time, in the long long ago, many people kept a daily record of their comings and goings – diaries I think they were called. Amazing!

    • Jenny how to get there 1.2

      Gezza

      24 September 2021

      ……Dunno how I feel about being tracked wherever I go.

      How would you feel about being tracked whenever you go?

      The pan-opticon

  2. Ed1 2

    Already "make level 4 restrictions redundant" is being interpreted as no lock downs at all; "90%" is being interpreted as 90% with one jab . . . – and 'freedom" is being interpreted as no border controls and freedom to return from other countries without isolation if you have a certificate . . .

  3. William 3

    I've been reading through the recent Hendy and colleagues modelling paper. In Table 1 they assume that vaccination reduces the probability of transmission in an infected individual by about 50%. My understanding was that Oxford University had shown that viral loads were about the same in infected people regardless of vaccination status. These two things don't seem to square up, am I missing something here?

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      If the viral load is the same, but the transmission rate is halved, then it must be the mechanics of transmission: coughing etc that make the difference, imo.

      • Gezza 3.1.1

        I’d got the impression that vaxed folk who get Covid shed the virus at the same rate as unvaxed people. It’s just that you don’t suffer the severe symptoms?

        • Cricklewood 3.1.1.1

          Thats not correct it varies greatly from person to person just as some vaxxed people still end up extremely ill and others are completely asymptomatic…

        • UncookedSelachimorpha 3.1.1.2

          Vaccinated people who get infected usually don't show severe symptoms because the virus establishs in upper respiratory tract only, and fails to move into the lungs. In unvaccinated it moves readily into the lungs (and everywhere else) which is when it gets dangerous.

          Apparently the current crop of vaccines don't illicit a strong immune response on the surfaces of the upper respiratory tract but produce a stronger immune response inside the lungs and interior tissues (which is still a fantastic thing to have!). There is work being done on developing vaccines that also boost surfaces of upper respiratory tract.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 3.2

      Vaccinated people infected with Delta Covid reach the same peak viral load in the upper respiratory tract, but this viral load lasts for a shorter period than in the unvaccinated. Hence lower transmission.

      See here:

      https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.28.21261295v1.full.pdf+html

      Other studies that compare viral load vs vaccination have either found same load, or lower load in vaccinated. This can probably be understood by looking at the timing of sampling – if early in disease, get same load. If later, lower load.

      • William 3.2.1

        Thank-you for that reference.

      • William 3.2.2

        I have one more question to ask if I may?

        We are told that children only get mild cases of covid, is it known whether this means that for them the virus is largely confined to the upper respiratory tract and generally does not get down to the lungs? In other words, is whatever is protecting children acting in a similar way to the vaccines?

        • Andre 3.2.2.1

          From a couple of weeks ago when this question was asked (h/t Treetop for originally linking the article):

          https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/unraveling-the-mystery-of-why-children-are-better-protected-from-covid-than-adults/

          tl;dr Kids' perma-snotty noses actually contain a first response system to viruses that are new to them, that adults never used to need so it doesn't get maintained. Because it comes at a fairly high metabolic cost.

          Which is all very well. But the situation we're facing is that kids are very likely to be facing a new virus that frequently breaks through this defence and wreaks havoc. So while most children are have better defences against the virus than adults, it still causes long term disability and even deaths in enough children that we'd be going pretty hard to protect them, even if it rarely affected adults. Think meningococcal disease a few years back.

        • Incognito 3.2.2.2

          In other words, is whatever is protecting children acting in a similar way to the vaccines?

          Mechanistically, no. The ‘snot barrier’ is and acts very differently and is part of the so-called the innate immune system while vaccines work through the adaptive immune system.

  4. tsmithfield 4

    Hendy's model is being criticised quite heavily, and doesn't stack up against other countries with similar vaccination rates that have opened up. e.g:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300414401/covid19-nz-rodney-jones-says-shaun-hendys-7000death-vaccine-model-doesnt-pass-plausibility-test

    The cynic in me would suggest that the government has set out an implausible doomsday scenario so that when it doesn't eventuate they can be credited with saving us all.

    • Incognito 4.1

      Cynicism can be a good attribute unless it clouds your thinking too much.

      Nicholas Steyn1,3, Michael Plank2,3, and Shaun Hendy1,3

      1. Department of Physics, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
      2. School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
      3. Te Pūnaha Matatini, Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems, New Zealand.
    • Ad 4.2

      TBH it's pretty clear this Labour government has saved us already.

    • Enough is Enough 4.3

      Whether Hendy is right or wrong, I am not sure what the point of marching him out on stage was.

      Anti vaxxers are not going to be frightened into getting the jab.

    • SPC 4.4

      The number of deaths per week is currently 994 in the United Kingdom.

      https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/deaths

      • McFlock 4.4.1

        Why, that would merely be a hundred a week in NZ! Perfectly acceptable toll to exchange for a jaunt to Melbourne over the weekend /sarc

    • infused 4.5

      It's a scaremongering model aimed at getting people vaxed and under control. I've got no problem getting people vaxed, but you don't need to do it like this.

      There's no way this model stacks up, just like his previous one where 70-80k were going to die. It got laughed at then, and now.

      • McFlock 4.5.1

        Jesus christ you guys need to get some new lies.

        Hendy's model at the start of the pandemic was spectacularly accurate on for the measures we actually imposed: 20-odd deaths projected vs the 27 we are at 18 months later.

        Your argument that the upper-level projection for if no measures were imposed and people in no way changed their behaviour even by personal choice (pubs as usual, nobody masking, nobody staying in more often) is pretty bold in the face of that track record.

        At some point it might look like you pricks are deliberately trying to undermine the covid19 response for some perverted reason of your own.

      • Incognito 4.5.2

        I think I should start moderating ignorant fools who make assertions about stuff they clearly don’t understand and know nothing about. Would you like to be first because you’ve had form in the past as a troll?

      • Shanreagh 4.5.3

        It's a scaremongering model aimed at getting people vaxed and under control.

        I follow, to rebut, a couple of MB with anti vaxxers of the worst (ie pull out dubious links to all kinds of things being attributed to the vaccine), and in some cases sad, kind. Just this morning we have had a spate of this 'under control' saying. Perhaps this is the new 'orders' or perhaps they are still taking seriously that the vaccinated have had trackers or magnets inserted.

        They are pests what ever the reason this 'under control' saying has surfaced.

        Each to our own and I accept that there will be vaccine hesitant (don't leave it too long!) and the immuno compromised.

    • Ad 4.6

      Statistics, like models, are only as good as their bikinis: what they show is revealing, but what they hide is essential.

  5. Barfly 5

    Denmark has vaccinated 84.5% with a double dose of Pfizer. They are a small country with a sophisticated agricultural base, a social democrat framework and very high trust in government.

    More than 353,000 Danes have got infected so far and 2,614 have died of it.

    To deal with Denmark’s consequences of re-opening up society and the relative huge surge in cases, Denmark has had to more than double New Zealand’s current intensive care per capita.'

    At this time Denmark is getting about 300 cases per day and 2 deaths per day (last weekly average) 2 per day = 730 deaths per year – probably near to the realms of acceptability. The case load of 300 per day is much more than our health system can handle but overall it's getting a lot closer. I fear New Zealand's problem will be the anti-vaccine crowd. Strategy on getting the highest possible % vaccinated will be crucial.

    Direct payment ? – To be attractive though this would be very expensive probably better would be……

    Those vaccinated go into a daily draw live on tv (very heavily advertised) say five 1 million dollar prizes for two or three months (pretty cheap IMO …given the other costs we have had to wear)

  6. Adrian 6

    I can’t open the reply on Open Mike but in reply to Bearded Git et al if you check out Rodney Jones on Jack Tame last Sunday he is very much of the leftist persuasion saying that neo liberalism has let down the bottom of the socio demographic and was opposed to Auckland shift to L3 while there were still cases in the community. Not quite the rabid righty economist. His opposition to the 7000 deaths was that it was a bit of scare mongering and thought it may be counter-productive.
    We have plenty of ICU beds in normal circumstances and it is misleading to compare countries because we have strong palliative care systems but the USA for one intubates and ventilates at a far lower threat level than we do, probably because of threat of legal action and also greed, milking the insurance companies, who often have ownership of hospitals, sounds counterintuitive but with premiums being a percentage of cost, the more cost the higher the premiums.

    A good comparison between countries would be total death rates per annum, at the moment we may well be a few thousand in credit, the reason being that Covid may only be a co- morbidity factor even in younger deaths.

    • SPC 6.1

      Plenty of ICU beds, really?

      We lack ICU nurses, and treatment to save life is not the same as palliative care – is it really common for other nations to use ICU bed nurses to manage palliative care in hospital?

      We usually have 500 flu deaths a year and a bit of pressure on the health system late winter from this.

      The combination of coronavirus and flu spread is something our health system will struggle to cope with next year (the novavax booster may come with an incorpoirated flu vaccine …).

  7. coreyjhumm 7

    International travel is dead regardless. Even if you open the borders most people don't wanna travel so airlines won't be breaking even.

    New strains will mean we'll probably need to get a vax every other year.

    Lockdowns and restrictions may just be something we have to get used to for the foreseeable future.

    • Ghostwhowalksnz 7.1

      Yes. Regarding international travel, Im sure travel insurance for covid is still not covered. We can get care in Australia and UK under our reciprocal and similar systems.

      Not sure how places like France work for that.

      But as usual the clueless will get caught out with out any insurance at all, because they are young and bulletproof..cue Givealittle for a $75,000 bill

    • Ad 7.2

      I think it will boom again as soon as we are out of this for about a year, then settle back down in part because business travel expenses are going to get harder to justify the business insurance risks. Is this business trip really really necessary? The scrutiny Minister Shaw got was remarkably small, but it's going to get louder as infection criticism intensifies.

      Once we are stable as a society again, we need to generate some posts on the decreasing necessity of travel full stop. That includes commuting to work, inter-city travel, Australasian travel. and the general substitution of analogue for ditigal exchange of people and ideas as a result of COVID, business risk calculation, and climate budgeting together.,

  8. Brendan 8

    We have a few months to wait and see what happens to the countries which opened up, while we get our vacines rate up.

    This should prove useful when making a policy decision.

    But while we are waiting can we at least open up more MIQ rooms?. This is very poor govt management.

    • SPC 8.1

      They're playing it safe because of need to isolate locals if the community spread continues. The issue to come, is if (and when) we allow those vaccinated to come into home isolation.

      • KJT 8.1.1

        Every expansion in MIQ facilities and returnees increases risk. Apart from the limited number of suitable facilities and staff.

    • Maurice 8.2

      Perhaps there has been modeling of the level of risk vs number of returnees and the present levels of entrants is being deliberately kept below that level as acceptable risk?

      • Incognito 8.2.1

        I think the limiting factor is capacity, i.e., the ability to manage the numbers without burning out (thousands of) staff and managing risk at the same time.

    • Patricia Bremner 8.3

      Extra rooms are being opened in Christchurch.

    • Ad 8.4

      I agree their handling of this part is a mess – if you are trying to get in.

      Those trying to enter are suffering for the good of the 5 million. I appreciate them.

  9. Christopher Randal 9

    I have this nagging feeling that Jacinda going in to bat for Hendy's theory may backfire.

    People don't respond well to the use of fear tactics

    • Patricia Bremner 9.1

      Cr, Re- listen to Jacinda's comments. "This is one point of view and we have a team of modellers and we consider all their advice. Advice is not set in stone… it changes according to variables."

    • Ad 9.2

      As a small-c conservative her instincts have guided her well through nearly two terms now. She doesn't take un-calculated gambles.

      • In Vino 9.2.1

        Nor do I see Jacinda as coldly calculating to use a fear tactic. Maybe I am dumb, but I see this fear-tactic meme as a right-wing construction, aimed at destroying the empathy many NZers feel with Jacinda's personal characteristics.

        John Key's popularity used to annoy us lefties, and mocking Righties accused us of having 'Key Derangement Syndrome' (KDS).

        Could some of the decriers of ruthless fear tactics actually be developing a new phenomenon? Jacinda Ardern Kindness Aversion Syndrome Subversion?

        • Ad 9.2.1.1

          Ardern's resolute adherence to science-based policy advice makes her emotional feel increasingly like Helen Clark in tone. The Ardern Prime Ministership doesn't look like a whole bunch of fun.

  10. Gezza 10

    .
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/kahu/covid-19-coronavirus-maori-and-pasifika-should-have-been-prioritised-for-vaccines-experts/LQJ5PBVJNIOIGY5PNY5DAC7FEU/

    “Māori health experts say the age-based approach baked inequities into the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and giving Māori and Pasifika vaccination priority could have dampened the Delta outbreak. A Rotorua district health board member and Whānau Ora representative says the rollout typified a “back of the queue, back of the bus” approach to Māori.

    The Ministry of Health says the vaccine sequencing was established to vaccinate those most at risk first and it is working to boost Māori and Pasifika rates.

    Massey University Te Pūmanawa Hauora Māori Health and Development Research centre director Professor Chris Cunningham said more than half of the Māori population was under 30, a statistic linked to a lower life expectancy than the general population. When the vaccine plan prioritised over-30s above younger people, it effectively excluded more than half the Māori population, Cunningham said.

    The median age for Māori is about 26 years.

    The age distribution in NZ is a result of inequity, then when they use age as the entrance criteria it replicates the inequity … it’s crazy.”

    Cunningham said if Māori and Pasifika had been prioritised in Group 1 of the vaccine rollout “we would have made better progress”. “You shouldn’t use age as a criterion uncritically.”…He said prioritising Māori and Pasifika could have helped prevent the spread of Delta.”

    ………………………………

    If the Māori/Pasifika vax rate in Wellington CCDHB is low, I’m rather bewildered by this. When I went to my local Medical Centre to get my free annual flu shot (these work: It’s been well over a decade since I last had flu) I asked the Practice Nurse how long should I wait before getting my Covid jabs?

    By then, according to media reports, the vaccine rollout had reached my age bracket (65+) & we should around then be getting contacted to book our jabs.

    The nurse said: “Two weeks. But it will be some off yet before you get contacted for you Covid jabs. Wellington DHB is giving priority to Māori & Pasifika people first.”

    Capital & Coast DHB was dragging its feet, we thought. Perhaps not enuf supply? Other DHBs were reportedly well on their thru the 65+ cases. It was actually the evening of the very day Ardern stated at her midday press conference that all people 65 and over had now been contacted that I got 2 texts inviting me to book my jabs. (1 from the DHB & 1 from my local Medical Centre.)

    I guess all DHBs were doing their own thing. Certainly seems like Wellington’s was prioritising Māori & Pasifika folk. It wasn’t clear though whether they were doing it across the board or in age brackets?

    • Ad 10.1

      In public policy terms I don't think I've ever seen a faster and clearer advantage of helping Maori and Pasifika because they were the ones that it was in all our interests to help.

      It would not be unreasonable for Prime Minister Ardern to make that point/Along with every Maori and Pasifika health NGO.

      Sometimes white privilege is a pain in the ass.

  11. Gezza 11

    “The Ministry of Health is rethinking its approach to saliva testing, after key medical and lab testing bodies make major changes to their position, with one citing a study showing New Zealanders are reluctant to take Covid-19 nasal swab tests.

    The New Zealand Microbiology Network has reversed its own call from less than six months ago, and now believes saliva testing is accurate enough to be used as a substitute for nasal swabs. However, its preferred method is still the nasal swab…

    International Accreditation New Zealand (Ianz) has also changed the certification attached to some saliva testing labs, opening the door for saliva tests to be used as a substitute for nasal swabs at medical clinics, if labs can present enough evidence their test has been properly validated.

    …NZ First leader Winston Peters has slammed the ministry for not getting saliva testing in place more widely, and faster, despite the Simpson Roche report recommending it last year.

    “By March 2021 we should have been totally been on top of it … these sorts of things, costs and delays, and lack of validation as to what they’re using as a system, is just unconscionable at this point in time,” Peters says. “I’m not trying to be obstructive, I’m trying to find out why on Earth would you have taken that course of action.”

    A saliva testing contract for border workers has been mired in behind the scenes controversy.

    A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health says it is reviewing its position on saliva testing on the back of the Microbiology Network’s changed position. The ministry’s position has changed in recent months from scepticism to now being “confident” saliva testing could identify Covid-19 cases early.

    The Microbiology Network also admits there is a real possibility people have not been getting tested for Covid-19 because saliva testing has not been available.

    Groundbreaking Kiwi scientist Dr Anne Wyllie helped develop the SalivaDirect test at the Yale University’s School of Public Health.

    [Her colleague] Steph Tan has provided the Government with research indicating saliva testing could be as accurate as nasal swabs, and better at early detection, along with cost comparisons showing that, while nasal swab testing might cost up to $200 per test, saliva testing with the SalivaDirect method costs less than $7 per test. Figures provided under the Official Information Act indicate each nasal swab test costs the taxpayer $138.

    Wyllie says the true proof is that their protocol has been validated overseas, and has been used to control outbreaks.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/126419825/covid19-uturn-on-saliva-testing-as-fears-grow-around-nasal-swab-hesitancy

    Be good if we can move to a lot more use of saliva testing. I haven’t needed to get a nasal swab, thank goodness. Those getting them shown on TV sure look like they’re enjoying the procedure.

    And I’d hate to have to visit a mass testing centre. Hope if I ever need one I can get it done at my GP’s Medical Centre.

    • Ad 11.1

      +100 much faster and less invasive

      • Gezza 11.1.1

        “Those getting them shown on TV sure DON’T look like they’re enjoying the procedure.” is what I meant to say. 🙄

        Ye, Ad, & I’d hope the kits could be handed over at GP Centres as well as Pop-up Testing Centres.

  12. William 12

    I know this might be slightly off-topic, but I would be interested to hear people's thoughts on this:

    "Antihistamines and azithromycin as a treatment for COVID-19 on primary health care – A retrospective observational study in elderly patients"

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7833340/#!po=34.9057

    Does this sound like a promising treatment?

  13. Gezza 13

    Sir John Key:

    "The aim should no longer be to exist in a smug hermit kingdom, but to get back to a life where New Zealanders can travel overseas – for any reason – knowing they can return home when they want to, and where we again welcome visitors to this country.

    These are not radical aims, yet there has been no coherent plan shared with the public for when or how these might be achieved. The only urgency we've seen for months is an enthusiasm to lock down our country.

    …Will you wish that in 2021 the Government had acted with the urgency and creativity that Nasa showed when suddenly having to rethink its approach to the Apollo 13 mission? Nasa succeeded. It proved that to get a different outcome, you need a different strategy."

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/covid-19-delta-outbreak-sir-john-key-5-ideas-to-transform-our-approach/PJH3TEOR6WEVADOOHWLKFBVK74/

    • Gezza 14.1

      Snap! See above.

    • Andre 14.2

      I'm confident the government is actually considering all those factors Key mentions, and is making plans.

      But while the situation is still as fluid as it is right now, talking in detail about things that are still months away simply hands out ammo for petty gotcha politics when the situation inevitably changes and the response needs to change.

      I do agree that I would prefer the government to be louder and firmer about our future with vaccine passports, supporting "no jab, no job" policies, vaccination requirements for schools etc. So that dreamers about the "North Korea option" can get a head start on disabusing themselves of that notion.

      • Graeme 14.2.1

        It's quite impressive how the government is quietly stating it's direction and thinking about how we are going to handle the controlled infection of our population by covid, and the opposition groups are then coming along and calling for those exact steps to be taken. All of a sudden someone does a poll and the Government has 80%+ approval ratings.

        The no jab, no entry thing to licensed premises could be interesting, the one next door to us wouldn't have any staff if their staff's compliance of masking is any indication, masks were around the chin after a day, around the neck the next and gone completely the next. No worries about the 50 / 100 punter limit though, lucky to have 20.

        • Andre 14.2.1.1

          Yeah, the government is slipping talk about vaccine passports etc into the talk in a low-key way, and good for them for doing it. To my taste, I'd rather they were louder and firmer about it. But hey, they're the political experts, and I'm not.

          I'm gobsmacked at just how incoherent and disorganised "the opposition" really is. Which doesn't actually serve us as a nation. There really are reasonable and nuanced criticisms of our response that could be made, and reasonable alternatives proposed. But that's not happening, all we're getting is knee-jerk thoughtless swipes that are so obviously clueless spur-of-the-moment brainfarts that it's just background noise that most people just tune out.

          Dunno what to make of the masking thing. Masking around my area and where I work is pretty good, even though both those areas are well away from where the ongoing infections are happening. But if it were Queenstown that was locked down in level 3 and no infections anywhere else, I'd imagine masking around here would be quite minimal. All to do with the immediacy of the perceived risk.

    • RedLogix 14.3

      You also have to ignore the deafening voices of tens of thousands of New Zealanders who are having their citizenship compromised by being stranded overseas. A very few of them manage to get back when public servants in Wellington decide whose plight is desperate enough to be rewarded with a golden ticket to MIQ.

      Yup that's us. We're not making a noise about it – but the hard truth is that my elderly father has been isolated and stranded in a rest home for going on 2 yrs now. It's been very hard on him, and rough on my conscience – and while we could technically make it back to NZ – there is zero chance we could return to our lives and incomes in Australia.

      Also interestingly if these restrictions continue to impact travel there arises a problem with the restrictions on voting eligibility for New Zealand permanent residents and citizens who have to have 'visited' New Zealand with the past 12 months or 3 years respectively. This was always an irksome niggle because it effectively required us to spend money on an airfare and travel costs in order to vote.

      As Key calls it the 'hermit kingdom' COVID approach will have the effect of even further disenfranchising even more New Zealanders living overseas than before if it entails a minimum of two weeks in MIQ simply to exercise a fundamental democratic right.

      • Gezza 14.3.1

        My sympathies for your father's situation.

        Before ma passed away in a Rest Home & Hospital in Tawa last April 2020 during L4 lockdown I was only able to talk to her on the phone until she lost the ability & strength to handle phone calls.

        Ma was 94 when she died. She refused to let me teach her the internet. She'd got by all those years without ever needing computer & was a very strong-minded woman all her life. It meant we couldn't video call.

        Are you at least able to video call your dad?

        • Ad 14.3.1.1

          I have a Dunedin mother-in-law who never learned to use a cellphone, let alone the internet. She's shifted into geriatric hospital care just after Auckland went into lockdown, and we've not been able to see her since lockdown. Hopefully soon ……

          • Gezza 14.3.1.1.1

            I had a weeny win with ma on that score; talked her into getting a mobile & dhe never regretted it.

            I had to put all of her contacts in for her, but she knew how to dial mobile & landline numbers from it if she needed to.

            It was an early Samsung clamshell type model. I gave up expecting her to text from it. She couldn't get the hang of the options (like "add number" to select the recipient. "But they're already in there?" And she wouldn't practice by sending texts to her own number, like I did. "I'm too busy" 😀

            She used it as a mobile telephone onl, but made plenty of use of it when out & about.

            How old's your mum-in-law, Ad?

            • Ad 14.3.1.1.1.1

              Sounded OK on the telephone last night which the Dunedin Hospital staff get to her, thanks. Not sure where to next for her yet.

              • Gezza

                If it's anything like the situation in Welly, you'll likely need to yourself find a Rest Home & Hospital for her. We had to check out all those in Welly who offered Hospital-level care, not just Rest Home-level.

                Then up to us to check them out on the net, and visit those who had places available, before signing up to one.

        • RedLogix 14.3.1.2

          Yes the staff organise a call every few weeks. He can't see much anymore and his hearing isn't the best – and pretty much all we can do is to try and reassure him we haven't forgotten and we do care.

          Sometimes he rambles on for two hours or more and it leaves us feeling drained and saddened at our inability to be there for him.

          And we're the lucky ones – one of my colleagues came over from India early 2019 and has not been able to see his young wife and children for two years now. Like us he's being forced to choose between income and family. Around the world COVID has forced millions into this unpalatable choice.

        • RedLogix 14.3.1.3

          And this inability to say goodbye is probably the most quietly corrosive element to this entire pandemic.

          Thanks for the support. None of us are on our own in this it seems.

      • Ad 14.3.2

        That would make you one of our more committed voters.

    • Graeme 14.4

      Looks like his investments in Air New Zealand and Auckland Airport are hurting a tad.

      And where does he get the thing about "we are no longer making our way in the world"? I thought our net export receipts and balance of trade were holding up very well.

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