Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Prime Minister all at sea on saliva


“Seldom has the Prime Minister shown up to Parliament and given a poorer performance than she did at Question Time today on the issue of PCR testing, which is all the more surprising given what a specialist topic COVID-19 has become for her over the past year,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“I accept there is a lot on her plate today, but still, it was not an encouraging display.

“Some very clear questions have been asked in recent days about why New Zealand, unlike Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and numerous other jurisdictions still isn’t using widespread, daily saliva PCR testing as an adjunct to nasal PCR testing.

“But the Prime Minister can’t seem to give credible answers to those questions.

“She says she’s been relying on advice from Health officials – advice she has not released – about the technology needing to be verified, despite it having been verified the world over.

“And remember, the Simpson-Roche report her Government commissioned, which she received in September, said saliva PCR testing should be implemented ‘as soon as possible.’

“The Prime Minister also seemed to become confused, suggesting the opposition was asking for saliva PCR testing to be used instead of nasal PCR testing.

“But we never have.

“It’s been clear to anyone with an interest in the matter right from the outset that saliva PCR testing has been suggested as an additional, more frequent test, not a replacement for nasal PCR testing.

“In fact, the Simpson-Roche report made that very point – they formed the view last year that officials were blaming the slow rollout on an assumption that saliva PCR testing might at some point replace nasal PCR testing.

“They said very clearly that one need not replace the other, saying the two ‘could well be complementary.’

“It should be remembered that the Simpson-Roche report was based on extensive interviews with the Health officials the Prime Minister is now saying are still advising her a slower rollout of saliva PCR testing should occur in New Zealand than elsewhere.

“It stands to reason that if Ms Simpson and Mr Roche agreed with that point of view they wouldn’t have made the recommendation ‘All efforts should be made to introduce saliva testing as soon as possible.’

“If the Prime Minister does indeed have advice that says New Zealand should be moving this slowly, she should release it for everyone to get their heads around.”

ENDS