Oops – our PM’s halo has slipped in overseas critiques of NZs Covid elimination strategy

The  Ardern government is  clinging  to  its Covid elimination strategy, even  as  the  Ministry of  Health   is  looking  at the  need for  booster shots for  those  who were  vaccinated  six months  ago.

A new  study  by researchers  in Britain has found that  protection offered  by the Pfizer vaccine,  which is 88% effective  in  the first  month,  begins  to  fade  within five to six months  of  the  second injection.  By  then  it is  only  74%  effective   The Astra-Zeneca  vaccine   is  only  67%  effective   after  about  five  months.

New Zealand’s Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, today confirmed officials are considering booster injections for those who received their Pfizer vaccines in  February, March  and April.

Among NZ  experts  there  has  been debate  on  whether    booster  shots   would be  necessary. They  agree the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalisation and death.

Vaccines continue to perform well, including against the Delta variant, and serious cases worldwide are generally only occurring in the unvaccinated.

Recent data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points  to a 25-fold reduction in hospitalisation and death in those who are vaccinated versus those who are not, and an eight-fold reduction in symptomatic infection.

Meanwhile  overseas  commentators  have  been   questioning (and  in  some cases ridiculing)  the  Ardern  government’s  elimination  strategy.

The BBC questioned whether New Zealand’s pandemic response was suitable to move the country forward into the next phase of dealing with the virus. It  said critics have questioned the speed of the vaccine rollout.

NZ has one of the lowest number of fully vaccinated people among the OECD, members of  which are among the world’s most prosperous economies.

In a more  critical piece for the London Daily Telegraph (which we reported in Point of Order on August 20) ,  Matthew Lesh called Ardern’s move to level 4 “poetic justice”.

He said NZ has fetishised ‘zero risk’ for the past 17 months and show little interest in updating its strategy.

The New York Times reported that fears of a Delta outbreak in NZ had been “heightened” by the lack of jabs administered, noting that the first case detected had not been vaccinated.

The Daily  Mail’s Dan Wootton took aim at Ardern and her zero Covid strategy, saying everyone knows we have to learn to live with  it.

He  wrote:

“NZ has just been plunged into a nationwide lockdown with all vaccinations cancelled because of one Covid case.  Jacinda Ardern’s Zero Covid fantasy is nothing short of a never ending nightmare”.

These  are  not  quite  the kind  of  notices  the   NZ   show  was enjoying  just a  few  months ago.

Point  of  Order  thinks  those  businesses  which  find  themselves  balancing  on the  edge of  bankruptcy   might  find  Lesh’s  comment about “fetished”  zero  risk  just  too close to the bone  for  comfort.

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