Dr Matt Boyd, Syndicated from Adapt Research
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, everybody now knows that:
- Warnings about pandemic disease had been touted for decades
- Myriad organisations had called for increased health security funding
- The world ignored all these warnings
- SARS-CoV-2 emerged in 2019 with dire consequences
The fact that all these warnings were known, yet action was scant, remains difficult to comprehend. Although somewhat perversely, we even knew we would ignore the warnings. Psychological research has shown that these kinds of rare but devastating events are exactly the ones humans tend to overlook. As if to drive this point home, I noted in the news today that a resident of Westport (a New Zealand town flooded by a ‘1 in 100 year event’) even stated that he knew the area had flooded, but thought “the last one was it”.
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker
Compared with other OECD countries NZ is a stand-out success story by ending community transmission of COVID-19. While there have been some well-publicised recent deficiencies (eg, quarantine organisation), there has still been no evidence of community transmission for many weeks. Nevertheless, further improvements in NZ’s response are possible and in this blog we detail how pandemic terminology could be upgraded. Consistent, accurate terminology could assist effective communication between political leaders, officials, scientists, international collaborators and the NZ public on key COVID-19 risk management issues.
Ruth Cunningham, Charlotte Paul, Andrew Moore
Public health responses to infectious diseases such as COVID-19 require us to draw on our common humanity and be explicit about our values. Recognising this will help us make good decisions in difficult situations so that, for example, the need to impose restrictive measures and to protect ourselves does not conflict with fairness, respect, and neighbourliness. In Aotearoa/NZ, Getting Through Together already provides a statement of shared values which can be used to guide a wide range of responses.