Dr Ben Gray*
New Zealand has begun to roll out its Covid-19 vaccination programme, starting with those working at the border, including in the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities. There have been calls for prioritising other groups such as those in South Auckland  and meat industry workers  and the National Ethics Advisory Committee has released a final report  on Resource Allocation and Covid-19 that includes a section on vaccine prioritisation. The NZ Government has also developed a Covid-19 Vaccine Strategy  but without any detailed prioritisation.
Dr Matt Boyd (syndicated from the blog site of “Adapt Research”)
WHO? The Emergency Committee
The international health regulations (IHR) provide for the Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in appropriate circumstances.
PHEIC is meant to be a signal to all countries that significant actions, aid and cooperation may all be needed. Critics have lambasted the late timing of PHEIC declaration for COVID-19 and also the opaque nature of the acronym.
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Leah Grout, Prof Michael Baker
In taking a systems approach to pandemic control, it is helpful to define what is meant by a “border control failure” so that such events can be used to guide performance improvement. This blog proposes specific definitions for the current context in Aotearoa NZ. It concludes that since July 2020, NZ has had at least 10 border control failures (9 via MIQ facilities and one via a port), and at least 5 “internal MIQ facility failures” involving spread between returnees.
Richard Edwards, Nick Wilson, Janet Hoek, Anaru Waa, George Thomson, Tony Blakely
The new NZ Government is to be congratulated for working on an Action Plan towards achieving the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Goal. To inform this process, we briefly set out five potential strategies for achieving this important health and equity goal and discuss their implementation.
Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Michael Baker
Aotearoa/NZ has responded very successfully to the COVID-19 pandemic by achieving elimination and the lowest death rate in the OECD. But there are ongoing risks – which may even be increasing with larger numbers of infected returnees in border facilities. In this final blog of the year we detail the critical actions needed to lower the risk further, with these measures being largely the responsibility of the NZ Government. We also highlight the importance of ensuring the huge investment in the COVID-19 response generates lasting benefits for NZ.