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What If Boris Is Right?

Written By: - Date published: 11:51 am, July 24th, 2021 - 80 comments
Categories: boris johnson, covid-19, health, uk politics, uncategorized - Tags:

Now that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “opened up” the United Kingdom from many of the Covid19 strictures that it had undergone, there is a lot at stake to his reputation and indeed to the lives and livelihoods of its citizens.

There are no longer any restrictions from the government on social contact.

I don’t know how he has weighted this big calculated risk, but one factor will be that his country is far in advance of most in getting vaccinated from Covid19. More than 46 million people have received at least one dose, and 37 million have got 2 doses. That’s about 60% of the population 1 dose, and 50% 2 doses.

It’s one of the most successful vaccinations of a large nation in the world. Fine to claim that it’s due to the heroics of the surviving National Health System, but there’s no way around who is in charge and gave the policy direction for it all: Boris Johnson.

Business is booming. They are out there, laughing it up in retail, having lunch, in bars, in the football stadia, relishing liberation.

Their lockdowns were mild compared to ours, and their economy hasn’t taken as severe hit as ours.

And it looks even better for them into the near future. The increase in the United Kingdom Gross Domestic Product forecast is 6.8% for this year, 5.1% next year and 2.1% in 2023. That’s better than our economy, which contracted worse and will continue to be hit by Australian irruptions of the virus within its population and our attendant denials of vitak Australian tourist dollars.

Economic booms are not inevitable after pandemics – indeed after New Zealand’s 1919 outbreak there was all sorts of economic and social chaos. We don’t have the domestic demand economy that Britain does, and one of our largest trading partners – Australia – is in serious shit. As is our other closest neighbour Fiji. Our risk downside remains very, very high.

So there is no inevitable reward to New Zealand’s very left government and all its purity-contest lockdowns and heroic messaging that gets continuously praised. It may well be that Boris’s approach was superior all along. It may also be the case that our own luck will run out and we just won’t have the vaccinated majority to counter it.

Even worse for Boris’s critics, if he’s got this right and Britain does indeed massively expand as it comes out of public health restrictions, he can claim that same economic success for his Brexit leadership as much as a good solid bust-boom cycle. That is, he becomes right on two counts. And if that’s just dumb luck, well, New Zealand’s own isolationist policies amount to the same thing. Just as it will here, it will cement Boris Johnson’s Conservatives another term.

Yet the United Kingdom’s Covid case numbers are now predicted to rise to 100,000 or even 200,000 daily, the third worst level in the world.

Worse, new cases among vaccinated people are set to outstrip those within the unvaccinated population, and that’s likely to occur within days.

Boris Johnson’s economy may well have an economic forecast to buoy society, but it remains a life-or-death roll of pandemic dice for millions.

But if Boris is right, Boris will rule.

80 comments on “What If Boris Is Right? ”

  1. Treetop 1

    I would like to know how much Covid has cost the NHS and the expected cost for long Covid and Covid morbidity?

  2. Andre 2

    Even if Boris is right from a blinkered economist's point of view, 129,000 needlessly dead Britons (with many more soon to come) along without uncounted sufferers of long covid, means that Boris has already been proved very very wrong morally.

    Looking at the curve for how many people are still just getting their first vaccination, it appears unlikely the UK is close to the point where all those that want the vaccination have received it. So there's likely still a significant number in the UK that want to be fully vaccinated but haven't yet received that protection. That too makes it look like opening up is way premature morally.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      We dont have to wait to wonder if Boris is right ( as if!)

      '[Dutch PM]Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge conceded that they had lifted restrictions too soon.

      "What we thought would be possible, turned out not to be possible in practice," Rutte told reporters on Monday. "We had poor judgement, which we regret and for which we apologize."


      Singapore too has backtracked on its 'living with virus' policy ( that was only 3 weeks old) and re-introduced social restrictions.

      • Incognito 2.1.1

        Israel postponed reopening the borders to vaccinated tourists and also reimposed the rule to wear masks indoors all because of fears of the Delta variant. Unlike Boris, they don’t take unnecessary risks with their own population.

  3. SPC 3

    That an economy with more of a tourism component and more inter-connected with the global goods economy (our shipping dependent economy compared to their banking/insurance/finance business) would be more impacted has nothing to do with the government's response option …

  4. McFlock 4

    I wonder if their budget forecasts are any more accurate than ours?

  5. AB 5

    OK – I get that this is a windup and meant as a finger-poke at any smugness over NZ's Covid response. So it's salutary in that sense – but the actual chances of Boris having been right are approximately zero.

  6. Muttonbird 6

    Covid-19 deaths/million:

    UK – 1890

    NZ – 5

    If you are elderly or vulnerable and live in the UK you are 378 times more likely to die from Covid-19.


  7. joe90 7

    Right or wrong, Boris doesn't seem to give a rats.

    A scientist advising the government has accused ministers of allowing infections to rip through the younger population in an effort to bolster levels of immunity before the NHS faces winter pressures.

    The allegation comes after England’s remaining Covid restrictions were eased on Monday, with nightclubs throwing open their doors for the first time in the pandemic and all rules on social distancing and mask wearing dropped even as infections run high.

    Ministers were made aware of scientists’ concerns about reopening nightclubs and other crowded, close-contact and poorly ventilated venues without testing or other checks in place. On Monday Boris Johnson made the surprise announcement that Covid passports will be required for such settings – but not until the end of September, in two months’ time.


    • Andre 7.1

      Winter pressures, huh? Like flu? That didn't happen in places that were locked down through winter?

  8. 6.1, 5.8, 2.3 – the mantra of infinite growth – in a finite world.

    Even if Boris is right in the short term (highly debatable) ultimately he's wrong in the slightly longer term (while life remains on Planet Earth)!

  9. greywarshark 9


    There are rather loaded words in this from Advantage. The content is what Hosking might say in one of his quieter moments.

    So there is no inevitable reward to New Zealand’s very left government and all its purity-contest lockdowns and heroic messaging that gets continuously praised. It may well be that Boris’s approach was superior all along. It may also be the case that our own luck will run out and we just won’t have the vaccinated majority to counter it.

    What our needs are and why one need is to limit hospital treatment, is because our government services are in a tightening vice. It is part of the neolib experiment on us to run down the country's services and standard of living, while trying to squeeze more profit out of what's left. That follows the Middle Way approach brought up like vomit from Anthony Giddens, from a UK university background.

    In the UK Farage was, I have read, prior to Brexit, which he promoted, involved in talks with large medical corps in the USA and popularly supposed towards the theme of privatising it by selling it to some giant spider USA Corp. Their NHS is run down, but they have a Conservative govt to whom the macro picture is of paramount importance, the micro with the ordinary people in it is externalised. So they don't care if the hospitals fall over and the staff burn out, which will just prove that the government system can't be trusted to run ‘effectively and efficiently’ (favourite buzz-words).

    So what is at stake may be quite different from the UK to New Zealand. I think we ought to stick to that name for our country, it should shine like a blinking neon light at us. We have to approach our future with new zeal not watch and follow old degenerate UK and its head from the House of Slytherin.

  10. Ed1 10

    The impact of Covid on the UK may have been affected by the impact of Brexit, but this article may be of some interest:


    Perhaps Boris is just a bit more desperate than other leaders have to be?

  11. populuxe1 11

    To be honest I stopped reading at "New Zealand’s very left government" because for that to make sense would require some funky topological bending of the Overton Window through hyperspace.

    Comparisons between NZ and the UK are fallacious. Different economies, different demographics, different social values, different population sizes, different health systems, different geographical positions etc.

    There is no doubt in my mind that our government did the right thing and continues to do so as regards Covid until we have sufficient vaccination levels for herd immunity.

    It's less about Jacinda and smug purity politics than it is about Boris' moral failure and 129,000 deaths. 50% of Britons having both jabs is not enough for herd immunity and that's going to have a big impact on the large number of Britons with comorbidities.

    • Incognito 11.1

      Ad likes to poke the borax, which makes him a good Author, IMO wink

      • Gabby 11.1.1

        Fine line between borax and bullshit.

      • Muttonbird 11.1.2

        It would be great if authors made sense tho. Otherwise, what are we doing here?

        • Incognito

          Some if not all Authors write to initiate thinking and firing up lazy brain cells to stimulate vigorous and possibly even intelligent debate.

          Please keep in mind that we’re all volunteers here who write in their spare time. AFAIK, none of the Authors is a professional writer/reporter/journalist or what have you. If you think you know and can do better, write a Guest Post or start your own blog. Read the About section of this site; it is there for a good reason.

          When in doubt, ask. Don’t jump to conclusions or you might miss the point.

          The same applies to commenters, make your comment clear and concise and clarify, support, and defend your argument when asked.


          • populuxe1

            Or, you know, Poe's Law. I expect that many of us at this point in the Cthulucene don't have the emotional energy.

            • Incognito

              Yes, many feel drained and exhausted. However, if you don’t have the (emotional) energy then don’t come here and waste the last little bit that’s left. Recharge, recuperate, rest, and relax rather than rave, rant, and react to posts and/or comments that zap your precious time and energy and create a negative vibe here. Less is more.

      • WeTheBleeple 11.1.3

        Trumpian, not commendable in the slightest. The world has enough bullshit artists.

    • Bearded Git 11.2

      Agreed grey. Ad lost all credibility with the "very left" framing.

      Who would I trust and prefer as PM? Who do I think has it right? Boris or Jacinda?

      Boris of course for his track record of never lying and his superb handling of the pandemic. I will add a hardly necessary "sarc"

  12. SPC 12

    Boris and the Tory Brexit freedom team were always the Sweden way by preference.

    But because the UK was

    1. more connected to the wider world, more locally "urbanised" and with a less responsible citizenship there would more community spread and
    2. with the population less healthy with a more curve vulnerable NHS

    that had consequences

    So they had to wait for vaccines to return to that path.

  13. Drowsy M. Kram 13

    But if Boris is right, Boris will rule.

    Boris has ruled right through the pandemic – seems unlikely that his 'rule' would be seriously threatened if this latest roll of the dice comes unstuck.


    Imho some drives, e.g. to accumulate and 'get ahead', which have served 'us' well, are now less useful in this iteration of civilisation. What/who are we (still) trying to 'get ahead' of?

    Rethinking Mindfulness
    Is meditation a "Song of Myself," or does it expand our commitment to others?

    Anyway, please go on ahead – I may get there too, eventually, and if not then no biggie.

    Getting ahead of the competition
    This month’s Genome Watch highlights current research into the genomic and functional diversity of type VI secretion systems in Vibrio cholerae.

    Vibrio cholerae is an extremely diverse bacterial species. Its members include the aetiological agent of pandemic cholera, as well as many other pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria. Researchers are interested in how non-pathogenic environmental V. cholerae evolve to become pathogenic, and why some pathogenic V. cholerae cause pandemic cholera, but others do not.

  14. Incognito 14

    But if Boris is right, Boris will rule.

    Boris has been right all his adult life, which isn’t as long as he thinks.

    Boris already rules.

    Their lockdowns were mild compared to ours, and their economy hasn’t taken as severe hit as ours.

    It think the first part is debatable, but we don’t on what you base your statement.


    Another PoV, i.e. a G7 perspective, comes from the link in the comment by Ed1 @ 10:

    • The effects of public health restrictions and voluntary social distancing may have been larger in the UK, reflecting how there is relatively more social consumption (for example, recreation and culture; restaurants and hotels) and how these restrictions have been more stringent and in place for longer in the UK.


    Aotearoa-New Zealand is 100% pure!

  15. David 15

    Yes, yes I get that this oped is a bit of a piss take. But imagine the shock horror of going about your business, Heathrow and Gatwick having 250+ plus flights a day to Europe, people enjoying their overseas holiday, COVID cases in the UK the past 3 days falling and actually having a vaccinated population where everyone who wants a vaccine having had the opportunity to get it already. How dear the UK get on with living…

    • Incognito 15.1

      I realise that your comment is a piss-take on the ‘oped’ but the UK is not an island and things are not as simple as you seem to (want to) believe.

      The authors of the John Snow Memorandum stress the risks to the 17 million people in the UK who have not been vaccinated, and state: "[This approach] provides fertile ground for the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants. This would place all at risk, including those already vaccinated – within the UK and globally."

      Indeed, as much as one bat may have initiated this pandemic, the actions of the UK Government and a nation of 68 million may have far-reaching implications for the rest of the world. That’s more than a little scent-marking by Boris or a giant piss-take, it is a potential global disaster.


      • David 15.1.1

        Except it’s not just the UK. Increasingly all of Europe is opening up to the free flow of travel. This useful resource from the EU:


        The benefit of actually having a COVID plan. Interesting the COVID passport the EU has developed includes those fully vaccinated as well as those who have recovered and have antibodies.

        NZ is probably not ready for this yet. I suspect the majority still like a hermetically sealed border and a plan where lockdown, border closures and MIQ are the only way to deal with COVID. But I am encouraged there are more forward thinking countries out there … an awful lot of them.

        • RedLogix

          Over a year ago I mentioned this here a few times; that while NZ had done all the right things going into the pandemic we needed to start thinking about how we were going to handle going out of it. Well I got shat on from a great height, it was clear the closet xenophobes were going to have none of it, at some level they quite liked the idea of an NZ forever sealed off from the outside world.

          When I suggested that there was going to be an upper limit on how long people would tolerate lockdowns there was a bad reaction, yet we can see this in Sydney right now – slowly but surely each new lockdown is getting more and more pushback. Every country will be different, but it's inevitable that we will not be able to rely on lockdowns indefinitely.

          Whether Sweden's or the UK's quite different approaches will turn out to be optimal remains to be seen, but we do need to start having a public conversation on this – without frightened people who want to 'keep the cooties out' shouting everyone down.

          • Andre

            It's quite clear the government is indeed thinking about strategies for opening up after everyone that wants vaccination has received it.


            But it's also clear that right now the situation is still much too fluid to be putting out definite dates and rules and policies. Unknowns include the possibilities of new variants, vaccine supplies, vaccine uptake within NZ, and on and on.

            Seems to me those shouting for a firm plan to be published now are just looking for a future stick to beat the government with when the inevitable changed circumstances render that plan inappropriate.

            • RedLogix

              How did you get from me saying "we need to have a public conversation" to "Seems to me those shouting for a firm plan to be published now"?

              You need a pet donkey – it would appreciate the straw more than me. Thanks.

              • Andre

                That wasn't actually intended as a dig at you, but more at a bunch of others with a higher media profile than you. But if you're so touchy about it …

                btw for lprent, I tried setting the width in the initial dialog bos for the image link, and it got completely ignored. But immediately editing the comment to add width”40″ did the trick

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            Every country will be different, but it's inevitable that we will not be able to rely on lockdowns indefinitely.

            RL, if by "indefinitely" you mean 'for an unlimited period of time', then I reckon no-one commenting here would disagree.

            If by "indefinitely" you mean 'for an unspecified period of time', then I reckon you might get some pushback from those "frightened people who want to 'keep the cooties out' shouting everyone down." For example, quarantine-free travel from Aussie to NZ is currently suspended "for at least eight weeks", i.e. for an indefinite period, and I see that as a prudent (precautionary) public health initiative, despite it being inconvenient to me and others.

            Well I got shat on from a great height, it was clear the closet xenophobes were going to have none of it, at some level they quite liked the idea of an NZ forever sealed off from the outside world.

            I don't understand why someone with your considerable intellect, experience and astute grasp of human nature would be surprised by any of that. Why you seem disappointed that your analyses are not acclaimed (praised/celebrated) more widely here, when you persist in characterising those who (apparently) shit on you from a great height as "closet xenophobes", is beyond me.

            Imho most, if not all of those "closet xenophobes" are simply people with different opinions and points of view to your own. They may even believe that they are sometimes right, and that you are sometimes wrong – is that so terrible?

            Overall the 'stamp it out, keep it out' strategy of Covid-19 elimination has served NZ and Aussie quite well so far (i.e. for well over a year), wouldn't you agree?

            And yet some of ‘us’ still don't seem to know just how lucky we are.

          • Incognito

            Let’s start with explaining what you consider “optimal” in this context. Both Sweden and the UK went off on a bad start and have a lot of ground to make up. Then we can debate what is tolerable and ethical. All of this should be informed and guided by sound evidence, not feelings, emotions, or biases. You’re correct that is the public debate we ought to have, like so many other public debates, but I don’t see many encouraging signs. Do you?

            • RedLogix

              Seeing as how it's been mentioned – what if Sweden was right? Yes they paid an upfront price, but is it going to be less than what the rest of the world pays in the long run? That was always going to be a rough debate.

              But yes, our inability to have conversations without immediately getting suspicious of other people's motives, and retreating into little tribal ghettos is evident pretty much everywhere.

              Yet there are encouraging signs. Plenty of people out there suggesting we could do better. (And for what it's worth I know from first-hand experience, that we can do better. Much better.)

              • Incognito

                Unclear. We can do (much) better in what: dealing with Covid or having (the) debate?

                • RedLogix

                  Both really – debating in general and COVID specifically.

                  And while we're talking other countries – what the hell happened in India. A few months back it was Armageddon – now this?

                  And how to explain China where the case and death rates per million are lower than NZ?

                  There is so much complexity and nuance to this story. Fascinating if it were not quite so terrible.

            • Muttonbird

              We did have a public debate. It was called the 2020 General Election. Debate over until 2023.

        • Incognito

          Fair comment, but this Post is bout Boris and how he’s ignores all information and pushes ahead regardless with this Freedom Day mass-experiment. At least some countries have realised the flaws of their thinking and are back-tracking on recent relaxing of rules. This is what a prudent Leader and Government would do.

        • McFlock

          NZ is probably not ready for this yet. I suspect the majority still like a hermetically sealed border and a plan where lockdown, border closures and MIQ are the only way to deal with COVID. But I am encouraged there are more forward thinking countries out there … an awful lot of them.

          So you'd support some sort of announcement when specific countries are currently safe to travel to without MIQ?

          Or if it doesn't have a colour-coded chart, it's not a plan?

  16. Booming business is not worth the avoidable loss by natural causes of a human being. We evolve as populations not just as individuals of reproductive age.

    "The classic evolutionary theory of aging explains why mortality rises with age: as individuals grow older, less lifetime fertility remains, so continued survival contributes less to reproductive fitness. However, successful reproduction often involves intergenerational transfers as well as fertility."


    • greywarshark 16.1

      I think we need more of that i-g transfers in NZ, the retired and elderly have to embrace the younger population along with enjoying not being wage slaves. At present some are burdened with responsibility, and some swan around fulfilling the dreams of government, making merely buying things an actual important sector of the economy. Consumption in place of Production. That consumption is another name for tuberculosis and results in decay and disease of the body should be borne in mind.

      • weston 16.1.1

        Enjoyed yr comments tonight grey especially liked ………."house of slytherin"

        Theres prob a french word for that sort of barb to do with fencing perhaps?

        • greywarshark

          Have you been watching the Olympics? I see that Radionz has an image of fencers with an item. The fencing word that comes to mind is foil but I don't think that's right. Faint is how I feel, but Boris doesn't go in for feinting, he's more schoolboy bullrush.

  17. mauī 17

    Worse, new cases among vaccinated people are set to outstrip those within the unvaccinated population, and that’s likely to occur within days.

    So much for herd immunity.

    • Andre 17.1

      And what is the difference in outcomes between the vaccinated and unvaccinated?

      If herd immunity doesn't happen because the vaccine is insufficiently protective against getting infected and infectious, but the vaccine is still highly protective against getting severe and long-term illness, well, that's even more reason to get vaccinated. Because you won't be able to freeload off herd immunity achieved by others getting vaccinated.

      BTW, the Pfizer vaccine we are using here appears to have somewhat higher efficacy against Delta than the AstraZeneca vaccine widely used in the UK.

      • Rosemary McDonald 17.1.1

        Might not pay to pin our hopes on the Pfizer star…

        The Israeli statistics also appeared to paint a picture of protection that gets weaker as months pass after vaccination, due to fading immunity. People vaccinated in January were said to have just 16% protection against infection now, while in those vaccinated in April, effectiveness was at 75%.

        Israel, like the US and the us have stuck to Pfizers 21 days between jabs protocol.

        The UK didn't, with months between shots.

        Being infected with Covid means one can infect others, especially if one is free-ranging in the community assuming immunity and taking no precautions. Statistics indicate that there is still good protection against severe disease for the injected, but this will be of small comfort to the person who cannot have the injection and who is infected by a confident injectee.

        Looks like the "vaccines" are not living up to the hype…such a pity any alternatives to mass vaccination to manage Te Virus have been resolutely derided and censored.

        • Andre

          From your link:

          Reacting to the Israeli figures on Thursday, epidemiologist Nadav Davidovitch, a Ben-Gurion University professor and leader of Israel’s doctors’ union, told The Times of Israel, “What we see is that the vaccine is less effective in preventing transmission, but it’s easy to overlook that it’s still very effective in preventing hospitalization and severe cases.”

          If the vaccine remains effective against hospitalisation and severe cases, then I for one won't have any patience for anti-vaxers trying to argue the borders should be kept closed because of covid risk, once everyone that wants the vaccine has had it. I doubt I'll be the only one with that lack of patience.

          So anti-vaxers will need to choose between actually getting a vaccine that actually protects them from the worst of covid, or choosing to offer their bodies as variant-incubatory hosts to billions of nano-scale cell-bursters.

          • Jenny how to get there

            The chest buster, is a good horror alegory of what is "possible".

            The Delta variant is rapidly spreading and replacing all other varients of the corona virus, this is a warning of what could happen if a truely dangerous mutation arose, and it could.

            "The virus has got fitter. The virus has got faster. The game plan still works, but we need to implement and execute our game plan much more efficiently and much more effectively than we've ever done before."
            Michael Ryan, WHO director of emergencies

            “Covid Ultimate”

            Virologists have 'dissected' the 'attributes' of Sars Covid-2 and tested every possible recombination of these attributes to see what they can do.

            Computer simulation modeling of all "possible" combinations found one potential mutation of the virus that was 600 times better at breaking into human cells. They have called this potential varient “Covid Ultimate”.

            From the NZ Herald;

            Delta variant is a warning to act before virus becomes more dangerous

            5 Aug, 2021 06:11 AM,

            This isn't a prophecy. It's a possibility.


            • Jenny how to get there

              Clint Eastwood may have been talking to Boris Johnson when he said, "Are you feeling lucky Punk"

              Delta variant is a warning to act before virus becomes more dangerous

              5 Aug, 2021 06:11 AM

              This isn't a prophecy. It's a possibility.

              …..For it to eventuate would be the equivalent of a 30,000-ball lottery rolling a specific set of seven numbers.

              But evolution can give those balls a guiding nudge. And they've already been brought together in the laboratory. The virus it produces is nasty. It's one that infects with much greater ease. It's one that appears particularly deft at dodging our immune systems.


              Did you play the lotto last weekend?

              Did your seven numbers come up?

              Probably not.

              Now picture this;

              In an alternative dystopian reality, to make the Lotto draw more interesting, and to the joy of the advertisers glue everybody to their TV screens, (even non players in case one of their neighbours of friends get an unlucky result), the Lotto board determine, that if you get the right lucky combination of 7 numbers you become a millionaire.

              But, also, in every draw, if you get the wrong unlucky combination of 7 numbers, instead of a cash prize, you are put to death.

              You get the right lucky combination you live a long and prosperous life.

              Would you still play?

              Many would. Boris might, But would you?

              Covid-19 is just like Lotto you get a choice to play, or not.

              New Zealand has chosen not to play.

              From New Scientist UK (behind pay wall)

              How do we live with covid-19?

              The UK government has said it is now time to “learn to live with covid”.

              WITH more than half of adults in the UK having received two doses of vaccine against covid-19, the UK government has decided that the time has come to lift most restrictions in England and get on with life alongside the virus…

              How many deaths are acceptable?

              Opening up society will mean that more people will die from covid-19 than if restrictions remained. No country has explicitly said the level of deaths they will tolerate, but some countries, such as New Zealand, have effectively decided to accept no infections or deaths, instead pursuing an elimination strategy…..

              • Incognito

                From New Scientist UK (behind pay wall)

                Incorrect, it is a free article.


                From the Copyright and License information:

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre – including this research content – immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                In any case, you should always provide a detailed reference or link, even when it is pay-walled so that we can check that you have not made up anything and some people may have full (i.e., paid) access. The default position is without that info you made it up.

                • Jenny how to get there

                  You are absolutely right. My apologies.

                  In my defence I bought a hard copy of The New Scientist at my local Countdown supermarket where I read the article referred to. Using google search I tried very hard to find the article online, even on the New Scientist website, I couldn't find it

                  Thanks for finding the original free article that the New Scientist had re-published behind their pay wall.

                  (Big ups for finding it for me).yes

                  Because of my lack of success in finding the original, I painstakingly transcribed it from the hard copy. Hence the lack of link. (I probably should have mentioned this, and added the page number and date of issue).

                  From the linked artcle you supplied.

                  How do we live with covid-19?

                  How many deaths are acceptable?

                  Opening up society will mean that more people will die from covid-19 than if restrictions remained. No country has explicitly said the level of covid-19 deaths it will tolerate, but some countries, such as New Zealand, have effectively decided to accept no infections or deaths, instead pursuing an elimination strategy……


                  From further down the same article,

                  ….Even countries that have pursued an elimination strategy may be forced to tolerate waves of infections and deaths when they open up after vaccination campaigns are complete.

                  That's us.

                  What I would be interested to know; At what level of vaccine coverage, would our health authorities consider, that our vaccination campaign was complete enough, to enable us to open up as safely as possible.

                  I know that Ashley Blomfield has said he hopes to achieve 90% vaccine coverage by the end of the year.

                  Would 90% vaccine coverage be the level that we would fully open up?

                  I don't know.

                  Maybe our authorities are waiting to see how Boris Johnson's early opening up works out, before deciding what our vaccination levels should be, before we open up.

                  What this report says is that with our elimination strategy, New Zealand 'effectively decided to accept no infections or deaths.'

                  But hints that this zero tolerance policy may have to change when we eventually do decide to open up.

                  What level of death and infection from covid-19 will we settle on?

                  Should this be a matter of public debate?

                  The most obvious stakeholders to have a say in deciding this must be the health workers who will have to treat any covid infected patients.

                  Our policy makers, and health experts who advise them, have an invidious task ahead of them.

                  • lprent

                    Based on what is happening in the US and UK at present, the unvaccinated appear to be running their own pandemic. And they’re getting infected by the vaccinated.

                    I think that the US has slightly over 70% with at least one jab and 50% fully vaccinated. The UK has 58% fully vaccinated and over 80% with at least one jab. The vaccinations appear to protect the vaccinated from needing hospital treatment, and there appear to be be very few ‘breakthrough’ infections amongst them with the better vaccines used in those countries.

                    With the mRNA vaccines in particular, it seems to have a very high protection against variants. However the vaccinated will still get sniffle level infections and they definitely are infecting those around them. Hospitalisations amongst the vaccinated are in the order of a few percent of the hospitalisations of the unvaccinated. Getting both jabs of a dual jab vaccine gives mucch better protection than just having one…

                    That is as expected.

                    BTW: I find it curious that many people seem to think that vaccinations are a silver bullet the stops people getting infected or being infectious – they aren’t ‘immune’. What it does is to allow a vaccinated persons immune system to usually quell the infection much faster than then someone who isn’t vaccinated or who hasn’t had the current variant of the disease before. That also means there is usually a smaller period of time where they are infectious to others.

                    However both the US and the UK are having observable rising infection rates almost entirely in the unvaccinated, and almost all of the hospitalisations and deaths are amongst the unvaccinated. That is pretty much what you’d expect to happen. Essentially the unvaccinated are sitting ducks to getting infected from bother the other unvaccinated and from the sniffles of the vaccinated.

                    In the US, there is a interesting GOP medical experiment going on. The states with low vaccination rates like Texas, Florida, Arkansas, etc are having rapidly increasing infection rates, hospitalisations, and deaths. Almost entirely amongst the unvaccinated and in a pattern that closely follows the political divides. Have a numbskull GOP governor and a compliant GOP state legislature, and also have a larger outbreak of covid-19 and there is a strong correlation with having a larger wider and more lethal outbreak.

                    It is less regional in the UK because the vaccination rates are more even. However there, a correlation with age and vaccinations shows up very strongly. At the start of the year the death and severe hospitalisation rates had a average age of somewhere around 60. Now it is close to 40 and dropping to fast.

                    Part of that is delta, which is appears to be hitting the younger way harder than the previous alpha and beta variants. Part (and probably most) is because the elderly were prioritised for vaccine jabs.

                    I’d expect that natural selection of cobid-19 is going to rapidly select for infecting younger demographics and any other factor that inhibits people from taking up vaccination. After looking at the Trump base supporters for a while, I am sure we all know what they’re likely to be 🙂

                    In answer to your query and based largely on the UK, I think that about 80% vaccination looks like it will ‘probably’ stop the outbreaks getting too high. It doesn’t look like it will give sufficient herd immunity to stop the spread to all of the unvaccinated, with the inevitable deaths and medical costs that will involve.

                    We’ll probably know in a few weeks after Boris Johnson’s current freeing up experiment has a while longer to run.

                    Any rational medical person would be looking for more than 90%, and going way down into the children to diminish the natural selection process in both the virus population and the people it infects.

                    The current nasty side-effect rate amongst people who have been vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines and some of the other better ones looks to be setting at less than a 0.01% against the population of those vaccinated with them. They’re steadily figuring out the contra-indicators of the vaccine – ie who shouldn’t get it because their risk is much higher than most of the population.

                    The virus on the other hand doesn’t discriminate and has far higher nasty side-effects.

  18. KJT 18

    The chances of Boris being right is absolutely zero.

    Even on the economic front his strategy has already failed.

    And, if he succeeds in his Stalinist/Nazi level experiment, in breeding vaccine resistant covid, he will be even more of a mass murderer than he already is.

    Is there no one in the UK Tories with the sense to stop it?

  19. Sanctuary 19

    Recent data out of Israel indicates a rapid waning of the ability of the Pfizer vaccine to prevent infection – down to just 16% in eight months (although all is not lost, the vaccine retains the the ability to protect all but .03% of people infected from serious illness requiring hospitalisation). In particular, people innoculated three weeks apart (i.e. Israel and NZ) see a rapid drop off in efficacy in preventing infection –

    This means we can expect booster shots every 12 months at least for the foreseeable future.

    The problem however is that we still don't understand the long term impacts of COVID. Professor Christina Pagel posted on twitter yesterday ( @chrischirp, – https://twitter.com/chrischirp/status/1418696473177362432?s=04&fbclid=IwAR1a1CoaVn0Es450q7ExtLGlEcbA8-md4iEMyQxfsaTzvcQ6WE6Kbat7CWI ) a study of 80,000 people which indicates a potential long term cognitive decline in infected users. The study itself has been criticised, but the point is we have almost no idea about the long term effects of this disease.

    It seems to me then the danger covid will not be known fully for at least another two years. In the meantime the response management is going to become much more a political/ideological one than a medical one. In particular, the rot of imperialist exceptionalism and libertarianism has set deeply into the tissue of the remnants of civil society in the Anglosphere, and large parts of the USA have turned away from science and reason and embraced superstition and a determination to turn societies clock back to before the 60s (the 1860s that is). There is bound to be political fallout here in NZ from the extremism of the Gramscian morbidities on display in the Anglosphere, as our political right takes much of it's cultural cues from the United States and UK.

    India is being held in thrall by a religious madman determined to create a theocratic ethno-state where the fate of at least 165 million dalits is a matter of supreme indifference to his Hindu fanaticism, so the threat of new variants and waves from that country is severe.

    And of course there is Africa, that benighted continent where one cannot ever discount the worst possible of all outcomes always coming along.

    All in all, the British are conducting a gigantic gamble with the lives of not just 65 million people there but the entire connected world. As Advantage says, they may get away with it. But fuck me, only a government of ideological lunatics and/or a country run by imbeciles so removed from the fate of their fellow countrymen and women as to be indifferent to it would even contemplate throwing the dice. Unfortunately, that is where the UK and large parts of the USA are currently at.

    • RedLogix 19.1

      And of course there is Africa, that benighted continent where one cannot ever discount the worst possible of all outcomes always coming along.

      The good news here is that being a continent full of young people, COVID just hasn't had the raw material to work with in Africa.

      But otherwise yes. Months back I said that it would be worth watching Israel because it was a fast vaccine adopter and the data it publishes is relatively trustworthy. It was also pretty clear that those who have been relying on vaccines as a shining silver bullet were highly likely to be dissapointed – and this seems to be coming to pass. I''ve always argued that it was going to take a range of overlapping measures to defeat COVID.

      But as you say, the entire pandemic has become a political, social debacle (I had to google 'Gramscian hegemony') and this alone is going to have consequences we're yet to pay.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 19.1.1

        I''ve always argued that it was going to take a range of overlapping measures to defeat COVID.

        Also seem to remember you being quite dismissive of the potential of vaccination – good to know it's now one of a range of overlapping measures, along with hygiene, lockdowns, vitamin D supplements and ivermectin therapy – how are the trials going?

        • RedLogix

          I was dismissive of those who would rely solely on vaccines. It didn't take much to realise that:

          1. It was never clear what the uptake was going to be. The novel technology of the mRNA vax has no long term safety information and this was always going to induce hesitancy among a large fraction of people. Short of compelling people to take it, this was always going to be a big unknown.

          Hell even here in Australia there is apparently a lot of GP's quietly advising their patients to wait and see.

          1. It was never clear exactly how effective these new vax's were going to be over time. We had never developed an effective vax against any coronovirus before, and the idea that we'd get the perfect one first time out of the blocks seemed hopeful to me.
          2. It was also obvious that a gradual, uncoordinated rollout globally while the pandemic was in progress was also an untried experiment. COVID is a Houdini of a virus and was very likely to escape in directions unknown, leaving us right back at square one.

          For these reasons alone I think it was not viable to stake everything on vaccines alone. That doesn't mean they have no place in the toolkit – they absolutely do – but a bit more realism around them would have been appropriate do you not think?

          • SPC

            Wait and see on use of vaccines can result result in deaths, or long covid, if there is community spread (it's an option of privilege where there is no community spread).

            An end to bubbles and lock down is dependent on vaccines (because the current health system does not cope without them).

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            That doesn't mean they have no place in the toolkit – they absolutely do – but a bit more realism around them would have been appropriate do you not think?

            Don't understand – who do you think was being unrealistic about COVID-19 vaccines? This time last year I didn't think it likely that any vaccine (let alone several) capable of significantly reducing transmission, hospital admissions and death due to COVID would have been developed by now, and the prospect of nearly 4 billion doses administered would have seemed laughable.

            Despite the huge increase in scientific knowledge and improvements in health care that have occurred since the last global pandemic, excess death due to COVID-19 infections is likely at least 10 million.

            Tracking excess mortality across countries during the COVID-19 pandemic with the World Mortality Dataset [4 July]
            Using a statistical model to predict the excess mortality in the rest of the world based on the existing data from our dataset, The Economist in May2021 estimated 7–13 million excess deaths worldwide (The Economist, 2021), which was 2–4 times higher than the world’s official COVID-19 death count (3.5 million).

            In this context the develpment of multiple vaccines that are already significantly improving COVID health outcomes is an extraordinary achievement, "do you not think?"

            And just a small reminder, RL, of something you wrote here over nine months ago, towards the end of a lengthy exchange:

            Look at the WHO chart that defines the stages of a pandemic. I'd argue on the basis of plenty of the data that while it remains a serious public health emergency, we are clearly in the post-peak phase of this crisis.

            No matter how clear that seemed to you at the time, your were clearly wrong. And that's OK – we all make mistakes. But if you can't admit and learn from your mistakes (i.e. figure out what led you to make them), then be prepared for sub-optimal outcomes – believe me, I know.

      • Rosemary McDonald 19.1.2

        raw material

        At least you didn't use the term "dry tinder".

    • SPC 19.2

      The growing consensus that at least some Americans will need a booster is partly tied to research suggesting that Pfizer’s vaccine is less effective after about six months.

      The most recent figures from the Israeli Ministry of Health, released late this week, suggested that Pfizer’s vaccine was just 39 percent effective in preventing infection in that country in late June and early July, compared to 95 percent from January to April.

      The vaccine remained more than 90 percent effective in preventing severe disease, and nearly as effective in preventing hospitalization. Israel began offering a third Pfizer dose to citizens with severely weakened immune systems on July 12


      It seems the effectiveness of the double dose Pfizer vaccine (Israeli evidence) in preventing infection diminishes by 6 months – the better news is that despite that hospitalisations in Israel are still down (despite the fact older people were vaccinated early).

      We may have to look at giving the border staff, front-line workers and health workers an Astra Zeneca dose at 6 months or so.

      This article looks at the mix and matching options and problems with using either vaccine for more than two doses.


      • Sanctuary 19.2.1

        The key issue isn't the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing serious illness – it retains this well into six months. It is about being able to spread the virus once you've been vaccinated after about six months.

  20. georgecom 20

    I heard someone on the radio interviewed about this last week and he kept referring to the "Johnson Government". I assumed he meant the Boris Johnson Government, not the other type of Johnson. It would have been helpful for clarity sake had the person on the radio talked about the "Johnson Johnson Government". That would have been factually correct I feel.

  21. WeTheBleeple 21

    This reminds me of our rabbit problem, and the Farmers who knew better than the scientists.

    The calicivirus strain that would kill rabbits was to be released in multiple locations the length and breadth of NZ. The plan – to eradicate rabbits before they could develop resistance to it. But Farmers, tired of bunnies trashing their production and knowing better than the scientists informing them (sound familiar) got hold of the virus and took it upon themselves to release it early on their own farms – the result being that rabbits were not eradicated, but became immune. Now calicivirus, our most promising tool to eradicate the rabbit pest, is practically useless to us.

    The only thing Boris needs is a white sleeveless jacket and a heavy sedative. He's a moron and soon a mass murderer. I do have post-grad epidemiology & a Masters in Evolution if you're wondering why my 2c got deposited here. Unlike some who know everything, I know a little.

    One person is incubator enough for the number of virions to be so high as to almost guarantee a mutation is produced. Most mutations are deleterious, but some create new variants that thrive. It's a numbers game, something Boris's number crunchers have failed to comprehend. Soon a variant will emerge that overcomes vaccines as he has given free rein to millions of incubators, with and without vaccines to overcome. This is insane. The virus merely has to create a variant spike protein to escape detection.

    But the rich could not wait to immunise themselves, and the fearful, and the self absorbed. With mixed messaging and no clear outline of how we could, as a planet, beat this thing, every individual country and company rushed to act when patience was required. We needed to make the virus, make a shit ton of the virus, and roll it out at once. Logistically impossible? We could have swept country by country, closing borders till the job was done.

    But, God forbid we separate man from his ability to grasp for dollars.

    Welcome to the shitfuckery show.

    • WeTheBleeple 21.1

      Clearly I meant vaccine, we needed to make lots of vaccine… but I got mouse problems and it double posted and gives me no option to edit when that happens. My bad for not replacing the dodgy mouse.

    • SPC 21.2

      There is a difference between eliminating a pest from New Zealand and protecting human life.

      Asking governments to allow hospitals to be overrun (or run lock downs for a year) and for people to die until there was enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone at once was asking too much.

      • WeTheBleeple 21.2.1

        Hospitals were overrun because of government decisions. It was obvious from early on there would be no concerted effort, but in a perfect world, we could have tamed this beast.

        • Jenny how to get there

          …not a prediction

          …not a probability

          …but a possibility


          What would it be like?

          Rapidly rising death toll

          Health systems overwhelmed

          All passenger airlines immediately grounded

          Border lockdowns and population lockdowns like you wouldn't believe.

          A return to a pre-1940s world before domestic commerial passenger air travel, but with all the 21st Century IT add ons

          What else?

          A war time footing?

          Are we ready?

          Could we cope?

          Could essential services be maintained with widespread illness in the workforce?


          This isn't a prophecy. It's a possibility.

          …..For it to eventuate would be the equivalent of a 30,000-ball lottery rolling a specific set of seven numbers.

          But evolution can give those balls a guiding nudge. And they've already been brought together in the laboratory. The virus it produces is nasty. It's one that infects with much greater ease. It's one that appears particularly deft at dodging our immune systems.


          The race to quell the virus before it has the chance to mutate is on.

          The urgency of the problem requires big pharma to drop their licences and make the vaccines available to the world.

          70% of People in G7 Nations Want Governments to Force Big Pharma to Share Vaccine Recipes

          "Governments need to step in and force pharmaceutical companies to share their intellectual property and vaccine know-how with the world."

          Jake Johnson

          May 4, 2021

          …..none of the G7 nations have yet backed South Africa and India's proposal to temporarily suspend certain intellectual property rights that are standing in the way of efforts to ramp up manufacturing for developing nations.

          If approved by consensus at the WTO, the patent waiver would allow generic manufacturers to replicate vaccine formulas without fear of legal retribution, which proponents say is a necessary step to meet global vaccine needs as coronavirus infections surge acrosss the developing world…..

          "The horrific situation in India should shake G7 leaders to their core. Now is not the time for an ideological defense of intellectual property rules."
          —Saoirse Fitzpatrick, STOPAIDS


          As long as there remains large unvaccinated populations, the real world evolution of Covid-Ultimate, proved in simulations, will remain a 'possibility'.

          If that possibility is realised, what value the sanctity of comercial contracts then?

          New Zealand needs to be a world leader and join our voice to India and South Africa to release the patents.

          • WeTheBleeple

            It's as clear as day what's coming if we don't act against our selfish nature. And yet they bicker over travel bubbles, profits, 'proprietary rights' FFS (same money hungry screwed up BS that prevented me carrying out work on Kauri dieback btw).

            The Herald talks as if a 30 000 ball lottery delivering a sequence of seven is a big hurdle.

            We have potential for billions of incubators producing billions of virions…

            This is evolution we're talking about. Time plus numbers will result in the unimaginable – or the blatantly obvious.

            My number (mutation per infection) was an overestimate by 100%. Geeks who love numbers have had a good look and reckon there's approximately 0.5 mutations per infection. Potentially billions of mutations. Let's see how the economy ticks along after that.


            Tick tick tick politicians. When your beloved productivity is completely and utterly fucked you can eat your hubris.

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