Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Minister all over the place on vaccine rollout

“New Zealanders deserve some transparency when it comes to the vaccine rollout and the COVID-19 Recovery Minister isn’t providing it,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“We have 250,000 doses of the vaccine in New Zealand. We’re using 100,000 per week and Chris Hipkins today admitted that vaccine supply may be in doubt.

“Pfizer is making an announcement later this week about global vaccine supply. There’s no guarantee we’ll have continuation of supply to continue the rollout as planned.

“But despite this, Hipkins also said that the feedback he’s had from Pfizer is “in lockstep” with the New Zealand Government.  That just doesn’t add up.

“The Treasury is depending on New Zealand reopening in 2022 to support its forecasts, yet the OECD has today said the pace of vaccination needs to accelerate to reduce the risks of new outbreaks and pave the way for the border to reopen in 2022.

“COVID-19 outbreaks in Taiwan and Melbourne show how precarious our position as a COVID-free country is and why we need more certainty around the rollout.

“The rollout of the vaccination programme for the general public was meant to be at the beginning of July and now it’s been delayed until the end of the month. Will it now be delayed even further?

“It’s time to start treating New Zealanders like adults and tell us what’s really going on.

“ACT has developed a plan for the immediate next steps of New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 and a longer term strategy for living in a progressively vaccinated world.

“It is underpinned by five principles: government transparency; faster tech uptake; risk-proportionate responses; a culture of inviting criticism; and continuous improvement.

“It also makes 15 policy recommendations, including:

  • Compulsory COVID-app use including Bluetooth functionality to improve contact tracing
  • Introduce daily PCR saliva testing and the use of Datamine’s ëlarm technology to the border and MIQ workforce to alert them to early signs of infection
  • An Epidemic Response Unit modelled off Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre to replace COVID-19 response leadership by the Ministry of Health
  • Reactivate Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee
  • Rolling out wider use of screening tests.

“Investigating and doing these things requires the Government being prepared to put the effort and resources into them.

“Whatever that resource may be, ACT’s view is the cost will be considerably less than further lockdowns caused by inadequate measures at the border, patchy contact tracing, and a slow vaccination roll-out.”