Politics is a funny beast. It moves around and zig zags and sets of in interesting trajectories depending on what the underlying dominant response is.
Logic often does not matter. The two most powerful emotions are fear and hope.
And Covid is the mother of all political transformers. Last year in a balmy autumn as we watched the rest of the world fall apart sitting here in Aotearoa and joining off together to see Covid Alpha off was so satisfying. The sense of exhileration we all had as the daily infection dwindled and then went to zero was intoxicating. The sense of hope was strong.
But that was original Covid with a R value of about 2.5.
A couple of months ago Covid Delta hit. It appeared in India and then spread throughout the world to be the dominant strain. And with an R value of up to six the prospects of suppressing it and eliminating it were always going to be difficult.
As I commented earlier I believe the Vaccination program has been outstanding. There has been a huge amount of bile thrown at it by National and its cheerleaders. But right now we are in the upper half of the OECD in terms of vaccination rates, we are still excelling in terms of daily vaccination rates, we are looking at over 90% of the target population being vaccinated and this year so far we have had two deaths.
But we are now at the roller coaster stage of the pandemic where slight adjustments could be catastrophic.
The fulcrum is finely balanced. Either we kick on and drive it down through a combination of increased vaccination rates and public health measures or we lose it and watch the infection rate spike.
It feels like National’s attacks are now having greater effect, at least among the gullible although polling has not really shifted. They are engaged in a remarkable feat by insisting on a set date for reopening while at the same time complaining that measures are to stringent and not stringent enough
There has been a lot of angst about the effort. Yesterday Des Gorman, who not only does not hold relevant medical qualifications showed that he also has absolutely no sociological qualifications by making some really naff comments on what was happening in the population of Tamaki Makaurau.
“Aucklanders are barely able to hang in there at the moment, they’re trying their best. They’re not going out, they’re not mixing and mingling. They’re looking at sections of society who clearly are – the numbers are going up, and they’re asking ‘why am I sacrificing my lifestyle, my time with my family, what’s being achieved here?’,” he said.
Gorman said despite rising case numbers, it is safe to ease restrictions.
“I think it is, providing you distinguish between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Very clearly vaccinated people are a much lower risk to the health system and so they should have greater freedoms,” he said.
His class prejudice is showing.
The part of Auckland that is most highly vaccinated?
The wealthiest parts of Auckland.
The parts that are less vaccinated? The poorest parts.
And sectors? Maori and Pasifeka vaccination rates are still disturbingly low. It seems that class and race are the strongest deciders on if you are vaccinated or not.
We are all in this together. Gorman and his ilk need to realise that none of us are safe until all of us are safe.