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.
“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.