Wednesday, 7 April 2021

We were slow to secure vaccines and now we’re exposed

“New Zealand has been left terribly exposed as a slow vaccinating outlier among developed countries, unable to let vaccinated travellers into the country because the Government doesn’t yet know enough about how infectious those protected travellers might be,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Prime Minister admitted it in discussion with Mike Hosking on NewstalkZB this morning – we are a vulnerable unvaccinated population unable to rejoin the world until we’ve all been jabbed.

“But as usual she painted it very differently, making our collective vulnerability through lack of effective governance sound like part of her Government’s strategy.

“It’s not her fault, she claimed, that good data isn’t yet available on how infectious fully vaccinated people might be. She can’t possibly know whether people should be allowed to travel here without needing to spend 14 days in managed isolation – the science isn’t available.

“But the lack of scientific data is a red herring. Evidence to date suggests if we were quicker to begin vaccinating the whole issue around infectiousness of vaccinated travellers would become largely academic – we wouldn’t need the data.

“So how did we get to this unfortunate situation? Well, a chronology of when countries and country blocs did advance purchase vaccine deals shows that despite COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins claiming on November 17 ‘New Zealand will be at the front of the queue to be getting vaccines,’ that was never possible because we were actually among the last countries in the developed world to sign deals.

“Remember, it wasn’t until 10 October that New Zealand secured its first 1.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine – the very batch that’s going so slowly into the arms of front line border and healthcare workers today.

“But it was actually in mid and late May respectively when the UK and the US cemented their first vaccine deals.

“In June the EU and Brazil were on board, followed in July by Japan along with more deals for the US, EU and UK.

“August saw Switzerland, Canada, Indonesia and even Estonia and Kazakhstan signing deals, with the US, EU and UK topping up again.

“All the while China, Russia and India were producing their own vaccines or ramping up to produce others under contract.

“On September 7 Australia announced its first AstraZeneca deal and in the same month Mexico was on the list, along with more top-up announcements from UK the EU and Canada.

“All those countries and blocs are off and running in a way New Zealand isn’t because they began negotiating with drug companies and secured supply deals as much as five months before we did.

“Again New Zealand has been sold a flat-out lie by this Government about its COVID response and we’re going to pay the price for it as the world takes off.

“Within the next couple of months large numbers of people from the US, EU, UK the Middle East and South East Asia are going to be allowed to travel or will be accepting vaccinated travellers into their countries.

“That freedom and the economic potential that comes with it will be blocked to New Zealand because our Government let us down.”