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”.
Amanda Kvalsvig, Nick Wilson, Cheryl Davies, Carmen Timu-Parata, Virginia Signal, Michael G. Baker
Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ’s) Alert Level system worked well in 2020, but the Covid-19 landscape is changing and the system needs to change with it to keep NZ ahead of the pandemic. In this blog we summarise our just-published recommendations for strengthening the Alert Level system and describe the benefits of an upgraded system: to better protect us from outbreaks, avoid lockdowns, help us transition to a post-vaccination future, support prevention of other respiratory disease epidemics, and uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
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.
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.
Dr Ben Gray*
To date New Zealand has come through the pandemic well. The role of political leadership and scientific input has been well covered. Part of this success was built upon having a clear ethical framework for managing a pandemic that had been developed in advance following the SARS outbreak. This blog considers the interaction between the science the ethics and the decision makers.