Gordon Purdie, Nick Wilson, Michael G Baker
In this blog we analyse data from the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website and display a key graph that we think should be routinely on that website. We also detail a potentially more useful way to categorise case data so that the public and research community can better track progress on the path to COVID-19 elimination. Both the graphical and tabular presentation of case data need to emphasise the critical distinction between imported cases (who should be safely isolated in supervised quarantine facilities) and transmission within NZ that would threaten elimination status.
Dr Ling Chan, Dr Sophie Febery
Widespread public mask use is common in some Asian countries as a control measure in the current Covid-19 pandemic. There is some suggestive laboratory and epidemiological evidence of benefit for such mask use. Since the costs of mass masking are relatively low and there are no apparent substantial down-sides, it should be given serious consideration by the NZ Government to speed progress towards the elimination goal.
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.