NZ should stick to COVID-19 elimination strategy | The Jackal

12 Jul 2021

NZ should stick to COVID-19 elimination strategy

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that right-winger’s will always put profits ahead of people’s safety. In fact not a week has gone by since our first lockdowns began without at least one right-wing propagandist arguing that New Zealand's border restrictions must be lifted, usually for purely economic reasons and not a lot else.

However if you take a good look at the evidence, it categorically demonstrates that an elimination strategy is the best and only way to go to safeguard both a countries population and economy. Even if some of our closest trading partners have decided to just give up, the NZ Government would be ill-advised to follow suit and allow the virus to run rampant in gods own.

Take for instance a recent study out of Germany showing that most people who survive Covid-19 are still suffering symptoms even twelve months on from when they first contracted the disease.

Last week, Oxford Academic reported:

Persistent symptoms in adult patients one year after COVID-19: a prospective cohort study

At month 12, only 22.9% of patients were completely free of symptoms and the most frequent symptoms were reduced exercise capacity (56.3%), fatigue (53.1%), dyspnoea (37.5%), concentration problems (39.6%), problems finding words (32.3%), and sleeping problems (26.0%). Females showed significantly more neurocognitive symptoms than males.

There are serious economic implications to this as well, especially when you also consider that many vaccines aren't the silver bullet we first hoped they might be. Even Pfizer's BioNTech vaccine is now showing limited long-term effectiveness against Covid-19 and its variants.

On Friday, Newshub reported:

COVID-19: Pfizer reveals immunity waning from vaccine, developing new booster

Pfizer chief scientific officer Mikael Dolsten said the recently reported dip in the vaccine's effectiveness in Israel was mostly due to infections in people who had been vaccinated in January or February. The country's health ministry said vaccine effectiveness in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease fell to 64 percent in June.

"The Pfizer vaccine is highly active against the Delta variant," Dolsten said in an interview. But after six months, he said, "there likely is the risk of reinfection as antibodies, as predicted, wane."

Despite the evidence clearly showing that an elimination strategy is an appropriate response to this deadly pandemic, many right wing hacks are continuing to bleat on about opening up our borders.

One in particular long-time Labour critic called Heather du Plessis-Allan even believes that keeping Covid-19 out of New Zealand will all end in tears.

On Thursday, Newstalk ZB reported:

Govt keeping the borders shut will end in tears

I think it’s becoming more and more obvious that we are drawing ever closer to some sort of crunch point with a worker shortage in this country.  

ASB this week warned that labour turnover has surged in the last three months, suggesting bosses are just desperately poaching staff off each other.


I think it’s also becoming more and more obvious that Covid isn’t the only reason workers can’t get in.

As immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont said to Mike Hosking Breakfast this morning, this is deliberate. The government is cutting off the foreign worker supply to try to force up wages.

It’s not going to work; it’s going to end in tears.

Despite what this doom merchant is saying, an end to our low-waged economy is actually a good thing. Heather du Plessis-Allan then goes on to provide an example from 1964, whereby Mexicans were apparently stopped from working in the US, but wages stayed the same.

There's little relevance to the current situation here and now in New Zealand, especially because wages have seen significant growth over the last twelve months while the country has been keeping Covid-19 out through a successful elimination program.

Of course Newstalk ZB aren't the only ones arguing for an opening up of our borders. Tracey Martin over at Stuff also draws a strange parallel to try and bolster the Open Our Borders movement; this time between Muldoon’s megalomania, Rogernomics and the current Covid-19 economic situation.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Covid-19: We need a plan to open Fortress NZ

When, a few years later, the Muldoon Government was swept out of power and along with it some of its extreme interventionist measures like wage, price and interest rate controls, we went from one of the world’s most closed economies, to one of the most open.

There were of course many problems with both Muldoon’s and David Lange’s economic management, particularly when Roger Douglas' economic mismanagement pushed wages down by causing mass unemployment, which rose from 3.6% to 11%. But, like du Plessis-Allan's argument, this has little relevance to the current situation.

We have become fearful of the world beyond our borders and most of us would rather things stayed the way they are for the foreseeable future.

I’m not sure that a valid fear of dying from Covid-19 is something to argue against. Personally I would rather things did stay the same meaning no community spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand. I would also prefer that other countries also got their response to the deadly virus right as well, but that’s not what’s happening.

As the world starts to open up, New Zealand is both blessed, but perhaps also blinkered, by our phenomenal success keeping Covid out.

Actually, much of the world is going back into lockdown as the Delta variant causes a third wave. Some countries that predominantly have right wing government's are however opening up their economies, despite them not having the virus under control. Thankfully this isn't a strategy that New Zealand should or needs to follow.

But the Government has not responded in kind; we have seen few signs of fresh thinking about the challenges that we are going to face us as an economy, or of a roadmap for navigating a world where Covid, and its variants, will be around for the foreseeable future.

Except the NZ economy under lockdown has been doing pretty well really. This has a lot to do with the Government acting quickly to protect people’s jobs. It also has a bit to do with our export driven economy being able to quickly adjust to meet the needs of countries still struggling under the pandemic. We can also trade amongst ourselves without much fear of catching Covid-19, which is a pretty big bonus if you ask me.

‘We must live with the virus’ is the catch phrase the right wing protagonists often use to try and convince the public and politicians to open up our borders. However what this really means is that people should simply accept their friends and family members dying, or becoming seriously unwell, from a virus that has claimed over four million lives worldwide so far.

With a mortality rate estimated at 3.4% and only 22.9% of victims fully recovering, the consequences to both a countries workforce and economy clearly outweigh any short-term financial benefits certain sectors might see from lowering our guard against Covid-19.

In fact if you think the skills shortage is bad now, just wait to see what happens in places like England, where the Tories have done exactly what du Plessis-Allan and other right-wing idiots have been advocating for here in New Zealand.

Perhaps, instead of complaining about no longer having cheap labor or being able to fly off on holiday every month, the elimination strategy neigh-sayers might like to contribute some new ideas on how New Zealand best lives without the virus, by keeping our borders closed and therefore our population safe. Because without a healthy workforce, there simply isn't going to be an economy worth arguing about.