Dr Leah Grout, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson*
Australia has generally succeeded in eliminating community transmission of the pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2, but the Greater Sydney region is currently facing a large COVID-19 outbreak, driven by the Delta variant. The New South Wales Government is struggling to control the outbreak and the grim situation holds a number of lessons for NZ.
Jennifer Summers, Leah Grout, Michael Baker, Amanda Kvalsvig, Nick Wilson* (author details*)
We previously published an assessment of Taiwan’s extremely effective response to COVID-19 during 2020. However, a recent surge of community cases in northern Taiwan from April 2021 onwards has resulted in an increasing mortality rate, with large scale restrictions imposed to bring the outbreak under control. This COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan serves as a reminder to other jurisdictions, including NZ, of the threat posed by COVID-19 and its more infectious variants. We therefore recommend a range of short-term and long-term upgrades to NZ’s pandemic defences that we believe the Government needs to consider.
Amanda Kvalsvig, Nick Wilson, and Michael Baker
Aotearoa NZ’s effective Covid-19 elimination strategy is now threatened by the global emergence of new variants with increasingly high transmissibility. We outline the upgrades that are now urgently needed to keep New Zealanders safe, particularly in the light of the current outbreak risk in Wellington. Immediate actions include upgrading the Alert Level system with a particular focus on mask use, making the Covid Tracer App compulsory for high risk indoor venues, rapidly vaccinating all remaining border and frontline health workers, ensuring that all New Zealanders are able to stay at home when required, and upgrading the Trans-Tasman Bubble settings.
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.