Thursday, 17 December 2020

Vaccine announcement welcome, but questions unanswered

“The Government’s announcement that it has procured sufficient stocks of a Covid-19 vaccine for all New Zealanders is welcome news,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“While it has done a good job on procurement, there are still questions left unanswered.

“The most important date is the one on which we’re able to finish vaccinating New Zealanders. Is the goal herd immunity? Does that mean we can then begin re-opening the borders, allowing people to bypass MIQ, and welcoming skilled workers into the country?

“Ministers were unfortunately unable to say what percentage of vaccine uptake would be required before it could change its policies at the border.

“It will be a minimum of nine months before all New Zealanders are vaccinated. What’s the plan for the next nine months? And what is Plan B if the Government’s strategy doesn’t work?

“Given the United States and the United Kingdom are already vaccinating people, the Government’s timeline is still too vague.

“The Prime Minister was also unable to assure New Zealanders that the serious issues which plagued the roll-out of the flu and measles vaccines and PPE would not afflict the distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“Jacinda Ardern suggested the roll-out would be centralised in the hands of the Ministry of Health, but that won’t instil much confidence in New Zealanders.

“The Government has done a good job of procuring sufficient stocks of Covid-19 vaccines, but it must do a better job of explaining what the vaccine will mean for the border, what happens in the meantime, and what happens if its strategy doesn’t work.

“In the meantime, we must get Taiwan smart on Covid-19 with ACT’s Wellbeing Approach:

• A multi-disciplinary Epidemic Response Centre;
• Government as the referee, not a player, setting the rules and allowing the private sector to meet them;
• A risk-weighted response, treating different countries and travellers with different levels of caution;
• A technology-driven response, using the best innovations.