Prof John D. Potter*
This blog briefly surveys the emerging scientific evidence on the longer-term burden of symptoms and disease in survivors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these symptoms point to damage in the brain and heart. These long-term harms add to the wide range of other reasons for Aotearoa/New Zealand to persist with its successful COVID-19 elimination strategy.
George Thomson*, Nick Wilson, Janet Hoek, Andrew Waa, Richard Edwards
In this time of Covid-19, helping people who smoke to quit their addiction has an even greater importance. Smokers are more vulnerable to many harmful health effects, including severe effects from the virus. Policies that support people who smoke to be smokefree would also increase the discretionary income of many of those most affected by the Covid-driven recession. We looked at the policies of seven New Zealand political parties and found that they are largely ignoring the strategies that would help smokers to become free of their nicotine addiction.
Prof Rod Jackson (Epidemiologist, Auckland University)
There are really only three ways that a population can beat Covid-19: (i) eliminate the virus and keep infected people out (the approach NZ is taking); (ii) allow a sufficient proportion of the population to get infected and become immune to re-infection so there are no longer enough non-immune people to allow the virus to spread (this is called herd immunity and is estimated to be at least half of any population for Covid-19); or (iii) develop an effective vaccine, which is the ideal way of achieving herd immunity. Given a vaccine might still be a long way off, NZ’s elimination strategy (if successful) is likely to avoid high numbers of deaths and the need for long periods of restrictions to suppress or mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Prof John D Potter (Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University)
There are a number of characteristics of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 pandemic that make deciding when and how to change the rules regarding lock-down and physical distancing less than straightforward. In this very brief commentary, these considerations do not include the pressures from those who are more concerned with the economy than with human individual, whanau, and population health.
Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson
In this blog we compare recent Google mobility data for New Zealand and a range of other countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data show the massive behavioural changes that have occurred in New Zealand (73% overall mobility reduction and 90% reduction in one category), which give support to the feasibility of the elimination goal being achievable in this country. The data for other jurisdictions reveals problematic stories for Italy and Sweden, but more favourable ones for Switzerland, Taiwan and South Korea. The latter two settings demonstrate how rapid and early use of various disease control measures may even allow for avoidance of lock-down measures. Continue reading