Why were we slow to increase Covid-19 testing?

A number of Governments around the world have been criticised for their lack of testing for the Covid-19 virus. This may have helped the virus spread undetected in communities.

Some countries like Italy and Spain had so many serious cases to deal with they didn’t have sufficient resources to test.

The US and UK were both slow to ramp up testing.

It is apparent in some places that the horse had bolted before comprehensive testing at the stable was started.

The spread of the virus and the actions taken by countries including here has been a rapidly changing situation, perhaps governments have struggled to keep up with demand, or perhaps governments are just too slow to act in emergencies like this (although the modern world has not experienced a virus like Covid-19).

New Zealand was also slow off the mark, limiting testing to people with Covid symptoms AND some link to international travel. Last week testing rates were increased, but only yesterday it was announced that the criteria for testing would be widened.  But even the highest risk group, travellers coming into the country, were not all tested (I suspect that there were too many too handle at the time).

This is despite medical experts and academics calling for far more testing.

The prime minister Jacinda Ardern has been criticised for possibly misleading the country over testing. Her first official release on Covid-19 was Saturday 14 March (just two and a half weeks go).  From Major steps taken to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19

  • Every person entering New Zealand from anywhere in the world will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, excluding the Pacific [i]. ‘
  • These restrictions will all be reviewed in 16 days’ time.
  • Existing travel ban retained for China and Iran
  • Cruise ships banned from coming to New Zealand, until at least 30 June 2020
  • Strict new health measures at the border for people departing to the Pacific
  • A range of measures to assist those in self-isolation to be announced next week
  • Government will work closely with the aviation sector to encourage airlines to remain active in New Zealand, limit impacts on the tourism sector and exporters
  • Directive on mass gatherings to be announced early next week

There was no mention of testing in her statement.

Tuesday 17 March she did mention testing in Economic package to fight COVID-19

“We will be investing in more health staff, more virus testing, more medicines, facemasks, extra intensive care capacity and equipment at hospitals, and more money for GPs. If we can manage the virus we can mitigate the damage to the economy.

The same day in Parliament from 2. Question No. 2—Prime Minister

Hon Simon Bridges: Why are people being denied coronavirus tests when they are displaying symptoms?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I reject the assertion they are. I want to read—

Hon Simon Bridges: Well, they are.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I would like to read from the case notes provided to doctors. Under the case definition, it says, “Note”—this is for clinicians—”that due to the ongoing changing global and domestic situation, clinical judgement should apply as to whether someone who doesn’t quite meet the current case definition should be tested or not.” Any person who a clinician thinks needs a test should get a test.

Hon Simon Bridges: So does she deny the email to me from a Wellingtonian and his partner who had all the symptoms and were denied the tests yesterday?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, as I’ve just said, that decision sits with doctors. I will read, again: “due to the ongoing changing [environment], clinical judgement should apply as to whether someone who doesn’t … meet the … case definition should be tested or not.” I cannot be clearer. Any person a doctor believes should be tested can and should be tested. We have the capacity to do up to 1,500 tests a day. My understanding is that we have hundreds of tests currently being processed for which we will have the results tomorrow.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why doesn’t she just guarantee that those who show the clear symptoms will get the testing, as Prime Minister of our country?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’ve just given you the exact advice that is for doctors. Doctors make those decisions, not politicians, but what they have been told is that anyone who they believe should be tested should be tested. I cannot be clearer than that. I cannot make those judgments, but they can, and they should.

Hon Simon Bridges: Why is she only suggesting ramping up tests now after the World Health Organization has called for countries to test, test, test?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The member is utterly incorrect. We’ve had the capacity to test up to a thousand a day for a very long time.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is she concerned that a comparable country like Norway has tested 8,000 people and we’ve tested less than 600?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the member seems to be upset about where our global standing currently is in terms of case profile. We have, currently, a small number of cases, that have been confirmed through testing. But I expect that we will have many hundreds more tests conducted. In fact, I understand we have hundreds currently being processed this very day.

Hon Simon Bridges: Isn’t the reason we only have a dozen confirmed cases and not dozens and dozens and dozens because under her Government, since the start of the year, we just haven’t done many tests?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That is an appalling, appalling statement to make. The implication that tests are being determined by politics is appalling. Doctors are making the call, and they are being told that if they believe they should test, they should. I cannot be clearer about the advice that has been provided by the Ministry of Health; it is in black in white—in fact, it is in bold.

Hon Dr David Clark: Is the Prime Minister aware that Norway currently has 1,200 confirmed cases of the virus, and is in Europe, which has been described as the epicentre of the outbreak?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes. In those cases, you would expect, therefore, that the contact tracing and symptoms would therefore lead to the other testing outcomes that they have. It seems extraordinary to me that the suggestion seems to be that there is disappointment about where we are. Hundreds of tests are being processed today. Very unfortunately, we will see—[Interruption] We will see more—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Can I just ask members on both sides—this is a very serious issue, and petty calling back and forth from both sides ill behoves the House.

Hon Simon Bridges: Does she accept that the reason, say, Norway has many more confirmed cases is because they have done many, many thousands more tests, and that’s where we needed to be weeks ago.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No, I reject that, and I again confirm I have just been advised there are 500 tests currently being processed. That capacity has always existed, but we have allowed doctors to make that decision, not politicians.

Hon Simon Bridges: Will she apologise to New Zealanders who have been previously denied a test under her Government last month, the month before, and as little ago as yesterday?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No one who a doctor believes should be tested should have been denied a test.

Ardern said “there are 500 tests currently being processed”. The average tests over the past week is 1,777 daily as of yesterday when more testing was called for by Ardern.

That same day from Question No. 10—Health

Dr Shane Reti: Does New Zealand coronavirus testing align with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to test all older people with symptoms who also have heart conditions; if not, why not?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The member will have heard from the Prime Minister earlier in today’s House session that all primary-care workers who are so qualified are being encouraged to test if they have any clinical suspicion.

Dr Shane Reti: What is the weakest point in the health system for coronavirus management, and how can we help?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: It’s misinformation, and members of the Opposition can help by making sure that they are pointing people toward the Ministry of Health website, where the most up-to-date and correct information is on hand. They can share that widely, and I would appreciate it. Thank you.

Two days after that a nurse I know who works in an age care hospital had flu-like symptoms and south a test but ws told she didn’t need one, and could return to work the following Saturday.

Also on 17 March – Jacinda Ardern urges clinicians to do more COVID-19 testing: ‘We have the capacity’

The Prime Minister is urging clinicians to conduct more testing for the coronavirus COVID-19 insisting New Zealand has the capacity to do 1500 tests per day.

“Our capacity is significant. We’re ramping up the ability to have up to 1500 tests per day,” Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday. “That test number you’ve been seeing per day happening in the community is growing day on day.”

It comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) pleaded for countries to ramp up testing of every suspected coronavirus COVID-19 case as it warns children are dying of the illness.

Several more media releases by Ardern didn’t mention testing, including the big announcement on Saturday 21 March – Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2

Two days later on Monday 23 March from Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased:

We will continue to vigorously contact trace every single case. Testing will continue at pace to help us understand the current number of cases in New Zealand and where they are based. If we flush out the cases we already have and see transmission slow, we will potentially be able to move areas out of Level 4 over time.

Ardern made several more media statements since then with no mention of testing.

Wednesday 25 March from Returning New Zealanders will be tested for Covid-19

New Zealand borders will be open for returning New Zealanders but all of them will be screened at their port of arrival, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

“All incoming passengers will be tested and anyone found systematic will be quarantined in a facility. All others will be asked to go into self-isolation. The Police will monitor them and anyone found violating the order will be fined and quarantined,” she said.

Yesterday (31 March) – Covid-19: More testing needed, Ardern says

The number of tests for coronavirus is set to ramp up, with health officials relaxing the testing criteria as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for more testing to be done.

New Zealand’s testing regime has been under scrutiny for some time, with people complaining of being turned away despite medical recommendations they get tested.

The matter was at the fore during the inaugural meeting of the epidemic response committee earlier on Tuesday, where Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield indicated a change was coming.

Now, Ardern has confirmed the technical advisory group overseeing the case definition of Covid-19 had agreed to expand it to include people who had symptoms potentially indicative of the virus, but without a link to overseas travel or a close contact who had tested positive.

The new advice would be circulated to Healthline, GPs and community clinics, with the Prime Minister expressing a desire to see testing levels ramp up further.

“I want more tests, we’ve built the capacity for more tests, more tests will only allow us to get a better picture of the spread of Covid-19.”

However, she pushed back when asked why the Government had not made such a change earlier, saying New Zealand had already been conducting a high level of tests relative to other countries.

The rapidly spreading and dangerous Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health emergency and has been very difficult for governments to deal with. One thing we should get is open and honest information. Questions remain about the slow lift in testing for the virus.

3,500 tests are now being done per day with plans to lift it to 5,000 a day but we may need more. This is being discussed now on RNZ:

Michael Baker, an epidemiologist from the University of Otago, tells Morning Report that although the shutdown has been very tough on people, it’s the right move from the government and they acted in a nick of time to get Covid-19 under control.

Prof Baker says that as we start to test more, we could see the number of cases rise dramatically.

He said more about testing, may have to wait for the audio.

Minister of Health David Clark is just being asked about this on RNZ,

The Minister of Health David Clark tells Morning Report the government asked the Ministry of Health to revisit their criteria for testing.

“We need to continue to ramp our testing, absolutely, and we are,” David Clark says.

He acknowledges there are valid questions that need answers about testing but that should be directed at clinicians who decide on who should be tested. He is waffling around the question.

He said current testing capacity is 3,700 per day.

Clark is already being questioned about the number of ventilators, he doesn’t sound assured or confident answering but says we have the capacity for about 500 ventilators with about another 200 ordered.

Public and private hospitals have about 750 ventilators between them.

It is a relatively low number per capita – with only 4.7 intensive care beds per 100,000 people compared to 35 per 100,000 in the United States and 29 in Germany.

Doctors have warned if Covid-19 pushes up demand so that 3000-4000 patients need ICU treatment at any one time, current capacity would be overwhelmed.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/413111/covid-19-nz-sources-more-ventilators-amid-rampant-global-demand

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62 Comments

  1. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  1st April 2020

    We were slow to test because we did not have enough swab kits in Mid-March.
    At that time we did not have enough labs geared up to conduct the tests.

    That is why there has been such tight restrictions on who could be tested (must have recently traveled overseas or been a close contact of someone who has recently returned from overseas).

    We still have a shortage of Labs and equipment for comprehensive testing.
    Although the criteria have been broadened, only folks showing symptoms will get a test.
    The asymptomatic infected folk will not be tested; so we still won’t get a good handle on how widespread the virus is in our community.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  1st April 2020

      ‘The asymptomatic infected folk will not be tested’…what % of the population is this cohort…Dr?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  1st April 2020

        No one knows. Iceland says half the infected.. The reports released by the Govt yesterday say maybe 80%.

        Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  1st April 2020

    [Testing: David Clark is being asked about this on RNZ,]

    The Minister of Health David Clark tells Morning Report the government asked the Ministry of Health to revisit their criteria for testing.

    “We need to continue to ramp our testing, absolutely, and we are,” David Clark says.

    He acknowledges there are valid questions that need answers about testing but that should be directed at clinicians who decide on who should be tested. He is waffling around the question.

    Clark is already being questioned about the number of ventilators, he doesn’t sound assured or confident answering but says we have the capacity for about 500 ventilators with about another 200 ordered.

    He wasn’t impressive in the few minutes of yesterday’s Special Committee meeting. He does the blank, vacant-looking face really well.

    David Clark is a Noddy, imo. One of Jacinda’s front bench obvious under-performers. I do not think that he has either the intellectual smarts or the intestinal grunt to interrogate his bureaucrats.

    I can remember working under two Ministers in my 33 yeat Public Service career who had that ability, & they lifted the game of our management, who were asked to “Come over to the Miniseter’s office; the Minister had questions”. Clark seems to me like a rubber stamper.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  1st April 2020

      * [in the few minutes of yesterday’s Special Committee meeting] that I watched.

      I hope they are going to provide transcripts of these meetings. I sesrched about last night for one on the Parliamentary website Special Committee page but there was no mention of one or link to them. The Committee meeting appeared to be well set up & run. And there seemed to be little time wasting & the obvious political posturing we are used to in Question Time & Debates.

      Reply
    • I saw quite a bit of David in the 2011 Dunedin North election campaign. He was a nice guy, but seemed like a naive party hack. He has reinforced that impression as an opposition MP, and hasn’t impressed me much since.

      Minister of Health is one of the most difficult portfolios, never enough money to meet demands. Clark has seemed too be struggling and out of his depth, and that is more apparent now. He has a huge responsibility but doesn’t give me a lot of confidence.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  1st April 2020

        Tony Ryall was one of the few Ministers of Health on top of his portfolio. Got to be smart, hard working and a people person.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  1st April 2020

          He was a joke, his harebrained schemes cost 100s of millions of dollars wasted trying to ‘save money’ and he was only in job for 3 yrs before ‘jumping’ ( or being pushed by Key)
          he was also the SOE Minister when Solid Energy went bust , after being milked for years with special dividends to teh govt.
          Coleman wasnt much better.

          Reply
          • artcroft

             /  1st April 2020

            Pure nonsense. Elective surgeries increased under his tenure. And staff morale was high.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  1st April 2020

              It was a fiddle , as it was extra bucks for DHBs they would prioritise ‘ fisrt appointments but not follow ups . Lots of electives that werent a government priority languished . Mental health went down the tubes.
              The Waikato DHb with an ex Nat Mp as Chair , appointed by Ryall ,became a laughing stock of incompetence
              as for Ryalls ideas …didnt last even under Coleman.
              HBL was a huge waste of money
              https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/69046629/govt-health-cost-cutting-scheme-to-be-closed-by-end-of-the-month
              https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/67455397/dhbs-likely-to-cop-hbl-loans
              And the Auditor general

              Click to access health-benefits-ltd.pdf


              “The Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain (FPSC) programme, the most signifi cant piece of work that HBL led, aimed to provide a commofi nancial management
              system, centralised procurement, and more effi cient supply chains for DHBs. The
              FPSC programme was forecast to provide gross benefi ts of $503.3 million over fi ve
              years. By 31 March 2015, the FPSC programme had spent $80 million of a revised
              budget of $92.1 million and was not yet complete. At that time, the programme
              was modifi ed with a revised budget of $120 million.

              Sound familiar, costs a lot more , and how knows what it would even achive
              the AG essentially says their saving numbers were bogus, as they didnt know what the cost was before

              To be honest the whole health budgeting is a rats nest but Ryalls schemes just added more rats

          • Gezza

             /  1st April 2020

            Coleman’s biggest problem it always seemed to me as Min of H was he conveyed the emotional responses of a vacuum cleaner & the warmth of a deep freezer.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  1st April 2020

              His niche was ‘the business of medicine’….I think hes even too cold for that, with a nasal voice….the antidote to Key.
              The Nats other medical doctors seemed to be hidden in the back rooms away from the public gaze, so you wonder how bad they are

  3. Duker

     /  1st April 2020

    “Questions remain about the slow lift in testing for the virus.”
    GPs run their own business , it seems some are dragging the anchor on this , for fear of exposing themselves to risk. Much easier to fob it off onto some one else.
    As a notifiable disease too the paperwork must be daunting too
    Not to mention being constantly deluged all day by the worried well – test me Please.
    Its much easier to say NO to keep your head from exploding

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  1st April 2020

      Yesterday :
      “Gezza / 31st March 2020

      I not sure Duker’s entirely incorrect. Might depend on the GP. I get the distinct impression from Managemyhealth group messages that some of our GP’s here would rather diagnose over the phone & send likely infected patients to Kenepuru Hospital for testing. I’m booked for a flu shot at the Med Centre tomorrow morning. They’re done by practice nurses. Might be done in my car, they said. I’ll see if I can find out whether any Drs there are doing SARS-COV2 diagnosis tests.”
      …………….

      I got my flu shot down at the Medical Centre at 9 am. I told the male practice nurse who administered it that this issue had come up on a forum I post on & asked if any of the (many) GP’s who worked there were doing Covid-19 tests there. He said no, they were doing tele-diagnoses & sending them all up to Kenepuru.

      The reasons, he said, are:

      1. For the safety of everyone who worked at the Centre
      2. Because all the Medical Centre corridors & doctor’s offices are small & narrow (true) & the waiting room is fairly small too, when its crowded.
      3. So they don’t have to kit up & then de-kit
      4. Because Kenepuru Hospital is only 5 minutes up the road & they are fully set up with dedicated staff kitted up all in PPE to do ONLY testing.

      He himself was kitted out in surgical mask, plastic face visor, & latex gloves, & administering the flu vaccine to people in their cars, & for those who rocked up on foot – outside, on chairs spaced well apart.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  1st April 2020

        I’m getting my annual jab on Friday. Seems a bit superfluous this year because if I’m any good at not getting coronavirus I can’t see myself getting the flu. Still, might as well stay on their shot list. I’ll see how their protections work. I had a phone consultation today for my BP repeat meds which was mostly just a formality as I always do a week’s BP readings at home beforehand and I just emailed it in.

        Reply
        • Griff.

           /  1st April 2020

          The hand washing and distancing has already made a significant dent in the transmission of colds and flu .If you don’t have the jab the chance of getting sick from flu now will be remote simply because no one will be spreading it

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  1st April 2020

            Yes, my doc agreed it was just about superfluous but might as well have it. It’s bought and paid for now but I’m pretty sure the money would have been better spent on coronavirus treatments before too long.

            Reply
        • Gezza

           /  1st April 2020

          Still, might as well stay on their shot list

          I sometimes wonder, Al, if you’re on a ‘to be shot’ list of someone here – who shall remain nameless – when the revolution comes. ;)|

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  1st April 2020

            I hope so, G. I wouldn’t want my life to have been entirely wasted.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  1st April 2020

              After the revolution certain, privileged, persons would be given manual jobs, like fruit picking to broaden their perspective.

              I can imagine Al in a …Concetrate camp.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st April 2020

              Fruit picking is a breeze, B, and you can eat them. Try potato picking – back breaking and you can’t eat them.

            • I’ve done a lot of fruit picking, I generally enjoyed it. Cherries are best, I can eat them all day (just the destalked ones that can’t be kept of course). Nectarines and peaches were good, but I didn’t eat many apricots or plums.

              Apple picking was harder work because the picking bags held a lot and the cases were 20kg (no bins in those days).

              I also use to pick up carrots, that was hard work bending over picking them up and putting them into sacks pulled behind you. And they were dirty so you couldn’t just munch as you went, they needed cleaning. They were used for poison drops versus rabbits.

              Walnut collecting was easier because they were light but also a lot of bending over.

              The hardest was working with hay bales, putting them on stacked trailer, then throwing on a haystack. Getting into a rhythm was hard because they varied in weight.

            • Gezza

               /  1st April 2020

              In what way do you think Al’s privileged, B?

              And why do you think he has never worked in manual jobs, & that doesn’t he doesn’t work manual jobs, even today?

              You make a bucketload of completely incorrect assumptions about Al & his life, and lifestyle, based solely on his political ideology alone, as expressed here.

              He might be a bastard poltitically but he’s someone imo who’ll never stop working until his body does.

              He has the good fortune to be someone who just happens to like working, & who is as happy on the end of a shovel, or crawlng around underneath the floorboards wiring something, or building something, our acting as unpaid tour guide in a part of the country he just loves, or using his computer & business skills.

              Just saying.

            • Blazer

               /  1st April 2020

              Only one making assumptions is you.
              Al is at least quite direct in his beliefs.
              He has stated he had a privileged upbringing and as a scientist in the professional class and given his role as a businessman he enjoys a far more privileged lifestyle than the majority of NZ’ers.

              I don’t doubt his work ethic.
              Just perplexed about his demonization of socialist ideas.

              He may even have an epiphany re his politics as have many right wing academics and politicians.

              The irony is that he has such a distaste for bureaucracy and….civil servants!

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st April 2020

              Lots of things have broadened my perspective, B. From truck driving, sewer pipe contracting, wives, uni profs, other countries, artists, political, environmental and feminist activists, architects and builders, gangsters and social workers, tech nerds, business folk and bureaucrats, friends and enemies. I’m pretty panoramic really when I look back and around.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st April 2020

              Carrot picking sounds like potato picking, PG. That also had the disadvantage of winter season and frosty fingers. Raspberry picking in summer was pretty cruisey too though it took a lot to fill a punnet.

            • Carrots and spuds would be much the same. The carrots were loosened with a tractor grubber running alongside the rows but there was often still some work pulling them out. Sometimes a bit of frost in the morning. Also sometimes a frosty start to apple picking.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st April 2020

              My dad was a civil servant most of his working life and a little indirectly I guess I was at the uni and my brother certainly was in Treasury. So I don’t have a distaste for civil servants, just a healthy scepticism about their desire anf ability to rule the world and me in particular.

            • Conspiratoor

               /  1st April 2020

              The dirty secrets of capitalism

              I know you’re not a fan of videos Al but you should watch this one. It might force a rethink…

              “I am a capitalist, and after a 30-year career in capitalism spanning three dozen companies, generating tens of billions of dollars in market value, I’m not just in the top one percent, I’m in the top .01 percent of all earners. Today, I have come to share the secrets of our success, because rich capitalists like me have never been richer. So the question is, how do we do it? How do we manage to grab an ever-increasing share of the economic pie every year? Is it that rich people are smarter than we were 30 years ago? Is it that we’re working harder than we once did? Are we taller, better looking? ”

            • Gezza

               /  1st April 2020

              Yeah I think maybe Al is one of those people whose personality & skill set are somewhat exceptional & perhaps is inclined to think most people could do & have what he does & has if only they put in more effort.

              People are different & skills abilities & personalities are too, as are what their circumstances are and what are most important to them.

              But he works for what he has & I don’t begrudge him any of that. I’d love to have his personality & skill set. He doesn’t live an opulent lifestyle, he’s down to earth and practical as well as intellectual.

              I’m a believer in regulating capitalism & preventing the amassing of obscene wealth and power, but I think societies need to allow individuals to operate as entrepreneurs & profit from their endeavours where they are beneficial.

              I don’t like financialism. I prefer capitalism to be able to compete for price & product choice, but not to let enterprises that employ people be put out of business by hige corporations with rapacious executives.

              Yep – I’m a former public servant. But I like to think I always worked in roles where I made a difference & improved services or operational effectiveness & fairness. Those are the kinds of jobs I always aimed for.

              And I did see too much restructuring, wastage, & stupidity & incompetence especially at management level in my last 10 years, & a few petty Hitlers & poor training on frontline jobs, & unhelpfulness to the public over 33 years – but mostly I stayed away from the kinds of jobs where that was what was expected.

              Public servants need close oversight. When they get that they mostly work well.m

            • Blazer

               /  1st April 2020

              @Al….those were 3 very weak defences of the current neo liberal system .They all totally ignored the reality of Capital ,how it is created and deployed.
              The mention of savings is laughable.Savers have been punished for many years now while indebtedness has become a…virtue’.

              What do you think were the compelling points those 3 dissertations raised?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st April 2020

              There are lots of ways to save, B. Not just cash deposits.

              As for Nick Hanauer and Everything You Know About Economics is Wrong, first I noted that he has been campaigning since 2013 and there haven’t been mass closures of economics departments and firing of economists.
              Governments have mostly been chugging along much as usual so maybe there is more than one side to his revolutionary ideas. It’s also apparent that US progressives like his money as much as his ideas and that he sees himself as a marketer and change agent rather than a theorist. Google shows a lot of left wing political support for him but nothing much from economists. It was quite hard to find even these three articles from economists taking him seriously.

              I thought all three articles made fair points and some of his were rather silly – for example denying the enormous amount of cooperation involved in every successful business and markets themselves. I think the critiques speak for themselves. He is a progressive political activist not an economist.

            • Gezza

               /  1st April 2020

              Did you actually watch the video, Al? Only 16.47 minutes.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  2nd April 2020

              I watched a few minutes of it. His arguments are addressed in the links I gave.

            • Blazer

               /  2nd April 2020

              not being an economist is a big plus…’that dismal science’.

              If you see where most economists are employed you will understand why the majority of them are such passive advocates of the status quo…i.e they want to keep their jobs.

              Private enterprise is now being exposed as being totally reliant on taxpayers for their survival.

              Tellingly , the ONLY private organisation with an unlimited supply of ‘money’ is the FED.

            • Gezza

               /  2nd April 2020

              @Al

              I watched a few minutes of it. His arguments are addressed in the links I gave.

              I took a similar approach. I skimmed the first one & decided he was a loser.

            • Gezza

               /  2nd April 2020

              So no point in reading the other links as they were probably just as blinded by their economic religion.

              Couldn’t you find any videos, for heaven sake. I like to watch their eyes & see if they’re shifty character. You can’t pick that up from dry old articles.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  2nd April 2020

              My cat’s got better eyes. If you want eyes she’s your guru.

    • Sunny

       /  1st April 2020

      True. My son had a teacher who was possibly exposed to a coronavirus contact and was stood down. They sent a letter saying that your child was in the teachers class. But the govt. advice was the kids should still come to school. (We didn’t) And then my son got a 39 degree fever and a persistent cough. We rang healthline and it kept giving a too busy message and hanging up, so i rang my doctor who said we’re too busy you’ll have to go somewhere else, so i rang the local hospital who said not us, and put me back in line for healthline (1 hour), who said you should get tested?! No kidding. So where. So finally they said my emergency clinic. Anyways the teachers tests came back negative. So my son didn’t get tested but did have some symptoms so who knows. But the point of the story is Drs and hospitals don’t want to test and they give you the run around instead of clear advice, we need more testing, but also faster results like Korea (6 hrs) because while people are waiting three days here for results close contacts in busy areas like schools still continue to spread the disease unawares. Especially fast results are required for people who could be super spreaders in high population areas like schools and retirement villages.

      Reply
  4. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  1st April 2020

    Medical and associated health workers have good reason to be worried.
    They are dropping like flies in NY, as they did in N.Italy and China.

    Our politicians and Health Department bureaucrats better hope/pray they have made the right decision when they limited testing and were slow to supply protective cover-wear.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  1st April 2020

      question here for you…Dr…

      ‘‘The asymptomatic infected folk will not be tested’…what % of the population is this cohort…Dr?

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  1st April 2020

        Dont Know , dont care

        Reply
      • Maggy Wassilieff

         /  1st April 2020

        If that question is for me… then I have not seen a figure that is definitive for any population.

        What I have seen are reports that asymptomatic people have tested positive for the virus….therefore the % must be greater than 0%.

        A possible indication of the size of the asymptomatic population can be garnered from these graphs comparing age cohorts of tested folk from S.Korea and Italy.

        In Italy only folk showing strong-severe symptoms were tested. In S. Korea asymptomatic and mild cases were also tested.
        https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/world/2020/03/coronavirus-new-graph-shows-people-in-their-20s-are-more-asymptomatic-and-not-being-tested-for-covid-19.html

        Amongst young adults perhaps 20-25% of those infected could be asymptomatic.

        Please note, I am not a medical doctor.
        I don’t use my title in blog posts.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  1st April 2020

          correct me if I’m wrong ,but to detect asymptomatic infection,you would have to test the entire population not showing symptoms…would you not?

          Reply
          • Sunny

             /  1st April 2020

            To detect asymptomatic infection rate surely you would just need a statistically valid sample size to get a percentage.

            Reply
          • oldlaker

             /  1st April 2020

            Blazer.. wouldn’t you get a good idea of the spread of infection if a random but wide selection of asymptomatic people were tested? I believe the MoH has always done that routinely for flu.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  1st April 2020

              The best results, I read in a couple of articles yesterday, are often obtained by comparing (or possibly combining) both a representative sample & a random sample as a check against each other.

            • Blazer

               /  1st April 2020

              do you think that is the best use of all health resources at this particular …time?

            • Pink David

               /  1st April 2020

              “do you think that is the best use of all health resources at this particular …time?”

              It’s the most important use of health resources. The entire approach is totally futile if you find a large number of people already have it without symptoms.

              The research at Oxford has already pointed to this being a possible situation.

          • Pink David

             /  1st April 2020

            “but to detect asymptomatic infection,you would have to test the entire population not showing symptoms…would you not?”

            No. You just need a suitable sample size.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st April 2020

              Might be quite large though while the case/population ratio is low.

        • Griff.

           /  1st April 2020

          Maggy is right S Korea has tested extensively .
          Korea had tested 275000 people on the 17 march and kept up with the testing rate since then.
          Their statistics probably give us the most accurate estimate of the potential death rate to infections.
          https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/south-korea/
          Coronavirus Cases: 9,786 Deaths:162 Recovered:5,408
          Gives a infection to death rate of 1.65% from the raw numbers ..
          5,570 resolved cases 162 Deaths gives a death rate of 3%.
          The true death rate is within these two numbers 1.65 to 3 %
          Terrifying.
          The S Korea numbers give no evidence of a large number of unreported cases pushing the death rate down as many have talked of.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  1st April 2020

            I don’t think you can conclude anything because the virus tests used only detect current infections. Those occurring before or after the actual test is done will not be detected if they are asymptomatic. We won’t really know until accurate and systematic antibody test results are available.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  1st April 2020

              Weird inversion of previous pandemics. before we would vaccinate like mad, now we test like mad. Only one of those stops the spread
              Before it was a diagnosis based on symptoms…yes you have it .
              same now for influenza/pneumonia with clinical judgement not always a lab test. yet Now we have the ‘gold standard’ test with people with symptoms running around for ‘a test’ as though that changes anything.
              Apart from health workers and those arriving from overseas, a test shouldnt be given unless your symptoms worsen. We cant do anything for those with no symptoms but are infected.

              The polio epidemics came about because previously young children had contact with virus often from poor sanitation and they then had immunity. With improvments in sanitation older children and young adults who first came in contract at the later ages would develop severe symptoms often leading to withered limbs or partial paralysis. The most susceptible were the well off as they had led a more sheltered childhood.
              Whooping cough, diphtheria, polio all came in repeating epidemics in NZ from the 20s up to the 60s. Often killing 50+ children each time.

            • Griff.

               /  1st April 2020

              Alan S Korea tested extensively and from an early date.
              The regime is not known to be one to spread propaganda or bullshite unlike China .
              There is not much room to doubt their figures .

              The other way to calculate a death rate is to use the number of infections twenty days ago and the present death rate to allow for the delay between infection and death
              162/7755 = 2.089%

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st April 2020

              I’m not doubting Korea’s figures, just haven’t heard they ever did randomised testing to discover what proportion of the infected show no symptoms and don’t develop any which would be the only way to do it with current tests. The analysis would be quite tricky not knowing the relative persistence of positive tests in the asymptomatic group as well.

            • Griff.

               /  1st April 2020

              275000 people tested on the 17 march and 8,000 positive.
              S Korea are in effect testing a random sample with this level of tests.
              From what I have read that I find convincing about 18% of cases remain asymptomatic.
              Far less than the double or much more assumed in some reports.
              Antibody testing will go a long way to answer the question.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st April 2020

              Population of Korea is 51M. Active cases 4000 is 1 in 8000. Asymptomatic cases may well test positive for a shorter time making them even scarcer. If asymptomatic cases were 50% of the infected you would expect only about 30 to be found in 275k random tests done today. However many tests were non random and were done when infection levels were lower, muddying the waters further. It’s not easy to have much confidence in these circumstances.

    • Duker

       /  1st April 2020

      2 Nurses have died …
      I suppose on that basis the headline is barely correct . Could that be the number who die for all sorts of reasons every week anyway.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  1st April 2020

        I would hope that no one would be cynical enough to write a headline like that to increase the panic….would they ?

        Reply

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