New Zealand has been lucky so far, but four trends are changing the COVID-19 world, and the Government must adapt its response.
We are approaching COVID 2.0: a post-vaccine world of mutant strains where the public are fatigued and technology offers better answers than lockdowns. The way we’ve been doing things won’t keep working.
The Government’s response will have to change, and we recommend it adopts five principles into its response:
1. Transparency: the Government must be transparent, bringing the country into its confidence when it has a clear plan, and when it needs to formulate one.
2. Fast tech uptake: rather than waiting until a technology has been so thoroughly road tested around the world as to have lost all traction, it should seek to be a leading adopter of new technology.
3. Risk management: it should aim to be a world leader on risk management, with responses being proportionate to the risks faced.
4. It should adopt a culture of inviting criticism: creating a culture of constructive criticism would allow the Government to maintain confidence and improve.
5. Continuous improvement: the Government’s response should always be seeking improvement.
Applying these principles over the immediate, short and medium term will take New Zealand from being a lucky country to a genuine top performer at responding to COVID-19.
There is a great urgency in New Zealand’s need for a reset. If the Government does not adapt its response, then the Valentine’s Day outbreak may become the new normal for New Zealand, as the rest of the world moves on.
In the immediate term, the Government should plug holes in its response so that we can get vaccination under way without further damaging lockdowns. In the short term, it should prepare for a post-vaccine COVID world, COVID 2.0. In the medium term, it must allow everyone to operate in that world.
Read our full COVID 2.0 Response Plan here.