Health and statistics reasons for staying at level 2 for yonks, but…

“…it would take anywhere between 27 and 91 days of no new cases for there to be a 95% probability that the virus is gone from New Zealand”.

In practice it is getting increasingly difficult for the Government to justify staying at Covid-19 Alert level 2. Based on their current stance it could be another three weeks before they decide whether to change alert levels again, while daily we have been seeing no new cases for more than a week now, and we are down to just one (known) active case.

There are purely health reasons, based on statistics, for staying at level 2 for longer.

Siouxsie Wiles: Many want to go to alert level one right now. I get that. But we’d be fools to rush

There are several reasons why holding at alert level two for a little longer is the right thing to do. The main one is that a run of several days with no new cases doesn’t mean that there are no undetected active cases of Covid-19 out there. Recent modelling by Professor Nick Wilson and his colleagues at the University of Otago estimated it would take anywhere between 27 and 91 days of no new cases for there to be a 95% probability that the virus is gone from New Zealand.

The lower estimate was based on the assumption that most people showing symptoms would go and get tested. The higher estimate was based on fewer people getting tested. In other words, those estimates are the difference between shrugging of that runny nose as an allergy or going to get tested for Covid-19 just in case.

I get why so many people want to move to level one, I really do. These last few months have turned our lives and our economy upside down. Just as they have right around the globe. We’ve made big sacrifices and we feel we’ve earned it. But surely none of us wants to risk going back to alert level three. Alert level one will come. Let’s not squander what we’ve achieved.

That’s from an academic who presumably doesn’t have their job at risk.

But there is increasing pressure (with justification) for lowering the level for social reasons, for non-Covid health reasons, and particularly for economic and employment reasons.

More and more jobs are being lost (37.500 were lost in April), and when the 3 month wage subsidy runs out next month there are likely to be many more people who lose their jobs, and businesses who have to shut up shop.

As well as being devastating financially, that will impact on mental health and general health.

Health officials and academics with secure jobs and incomes may prefer to play ultra safe with Covid, but the rest of us have a lot of other things to consider and to be worried about.

The Government may be worried about what effect a second wave of Covid cases may have on their election chances.

They should also be worried about what effect a second wave of job losses and business failures might have, not just on their election chances, but also on the health of the country.

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30 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  31st May 2020

    Shit models with unpublished and untested assumptions should not be the basis for wrecking lives and livelihoods.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  31st May 2020

      And if their model was worth a can of fish they should be able to determine from the existing data what the rate of reporting and testing symptoms is without having to guess it.

      Reply
  2. Fight4nz

     /  31st May 2020

    That’s it in a nutshell.
    “ none of us wants to risk going back to alert level three”
    Not true, that “risk” looks minuscule. Nothing in above appears to show anything different. Like to know what number the insurance companies would put on it.

    Reply
  3. Pink David

     /  31st May 2020

    “That’s from an academic who presumably doesn’t have their job at risk.”

    Cut her salary by 20% like almost everyone in the private sector and see how long see wants lockdowns to last.

    Reply
    • oldlaker

       /  31st May 2020

      All the people I know who want a longer lockdown are mostly older and financially secure. They seem to have little appreciation or sympathy of what extending it is doing to young people and those in a precarious financial position.

      Reply
      • The ones I have encountered keep repeating the mantra about how many people would have died if blah blah blah and have no idea of the effect it will have on the economy. Some people are still quoting Italy as if they and we were identical.

        Reply
  4. David

     /  31st May 2020

    The Norwegian PM is expressing regret at parts of their lockdown as they open up their borders before there is a vaccine and there is no immunity, be interesting to see what happens. They could end up like Sweden except with a colossal bill or even worse nothing happens and all work on a vaccine halts because the virus has wiped itself out.

    Reply
    • They could as easily end up similar overall, or Norway could end up substantially better if a vaccine becomes available sooner than later.

      I’d much rather a strategy that starts with lower deaths and tries to keep them low, rather than accepting many more deaths in the short term gambling it will work out better in the long term.

      There’s more chance of coming up with a vaccine than raising thousands of people from their graves.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  31st May 2020

        There’s more chance of coming up with a vaccine than raising thousands of people from their graves.

        That’s only half the issue though. The other half is the cost in lives and dollars of the precautionary lockdown.

        Reply
        • But is Sweden any better off in that regard?

          Sweden had no lockdown but its economy is expected to suffer just as badly as its European neighbors

          Sweden’s central bank, the Riksbank, gave two possible scenarios for the economic outlook in 2020, which it said “depend on how long the spread of infection continues and on how long the restrictions implemented to slow it down are in place.” Both possible economic outcomes are bleak.

          In the first scenario, gross domestic product contracts by 6.9% in 2020 before rebounding to grow 4.6% in 2021. In a more negative prediction, GDP could contract by 9.7% and a recovery could be slower with the economy growing 1.7% in 2021.

          In the first scenario, the Riksbank predicted unemployment could reach 8.8% in 2020, from 7.2% currently, and in the worst-case forecast could hit 10.1%.

          https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/30/coronavirus-sweden-economy-to-contract-as-severely-as-the-rest-of-europe.html

          Sweden’s jobless rate rose to 8.2 percent in April of 2020 from 6.8 percent in the same month of the previous year, as the effects of the coronavirus crisis began to be felt even as the country did not impose a full lockdown on public life or businesses. The number of unemployed persons went up by 79 thousand to 449 thousand while employment fell by 100 thousand to 5.005 million.

          https://tradingeconomics.com/sweden/unemployment-rate

          That’s a bigger fall in employment (proportionally) than here (we had about a 38,000 drop).

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  31st May 2020

            “That’s a bigger fall in employment (proportionally) than here (we had about a 38,000 drop).”

            Hang on a second. NZ is spending billions every week to maintain this illusion. The money will run out and then what? No jobs and many billions that needs to be paid for. Is it $10bn or $20bn just to keep some jobs ticking over? When does this end and how many of these jobs survive?

            Care to compare to Sweden’s situation?

            The amount of complete bullshit published about Sweden is quite breathtaking. The UK is expecting a 35% fall in GDP. Europe is going to be smashed, it’s already seen the biggest GDP fall ever recorded and it’s far from over. Sweden will suffer as a result of that, but if their GDP falls only 10% it will be a major achievement.

            The lockdowns have devastated the global economy. Everyone is going to suffer as a result. More than a hundred million have lost their jobs in India. What do you think happens to people in India without jobs?

            How many bodies will there be from these lockdowns?

            Reply
      • Pink David

         /  31st May 2020

        “There’s more chance of coming up with a vaccine than raising thousands of people from their graves.”

        How many dead are you prepared to accept while you wait for this vaccine? At the current point it will be in the millions.

        Reply
      • David

         /  31st May 2020

        With no second wave happening in countries that have re opened (Germany, Austria, Denmark, Belgium) it appears the virus doesnt spread that badly among the general population.
        We had 1500 cases and 22 deaths and all of those were old people and some very unwell old people. Sure the lockdown was fine given we didnt know what was going to happen but now we know how tiny the case fatality rate is and that it barely affects 90% plus of people that get it and health systems dont get overwhelmed surely we can all go back to normal. Keeping the border controls though.

        Reply
  5. The ninth day with no new cases, and still just one active case.

    Reply
  6. Pink David

     /  31st May 2020

    Professor Giesecke really is the only grown up in this.

    Reply
  7. Pink David

     /  31st May 2020

    In Denmark, storm brewing over the Government imposing a lockdown against the science.

    “The Danish Health Authority continues to consider that covid-19 cannot be described as a generally dangerous disease, as it does not have either a usually serious course or a high mortality rate,”

    https://www.thelocal.dk/20200529/leaked-emails-show-how-denmarks-pm-steam-rollered-her-own-health-agency/amp

    Reply
    • oldlaker

       /  31st May 2020

      In fact, in NZ the health advice was not to go into a Level 4 lockdown but stay at Level 2 for a month. I haven’t seen any explanation of why that advice was ignored.

      Reply
      • I have. The PM ignored ‘evidence and science’ in favour of ‘instinct’ (her words)

        This seems a poor reason for wrecking the economy and people’s lives.

        I notice that the 306 old people more than usual for the time who died is not publicised for some reason (number from the Official Information office) Were they acceptable collateral damage, at about 15 for every one of the people their age who died of Covid ? They seem to have died because of the lockdown; the number is too high to be a blip.

        Reply
        • oldlaker

           /  31st May 2020

          Gee, Kitty, I had forgotten about that. “At no point did the science and evidence say in absolute terms that this is exactly what needs to happen and this is the exact point at which it needs to happen,” Ardern told The Spinoff.
          Actually, I remember a call from friends overseas also propelled her to act.
          “Friends” and “instinct”, huh? What’s the point of having health advisors?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  31st May 2020

            The fact that there’s even a reasoned debate going on around the world by medical scientists about this, & that some models & projections are now widely accepted to be deeply flawed, is completely unknown by most people in NZ, in my experience.

            The mainstream print, online & tv media have done a hopeless job; essentially just parroting what Ashley Bloomfield, Siousie Wales & Ardern are saying.

            It looks pretty clear to me that Ardern is milking the media’s denseness & laziness, & the population’s lack of contestable information from NZ & overseas experts, for re-election purposes.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st May 2020

              Yes, and Skeggs tells us we are ignorant. Obnoxious prat.

          • I’d forgotten the friends giving advice.

            The ignoring science and evidence is on record. I couldn’t believe that she was idiotic enough to say it.

            Reply
            • Still less to do it.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st May 2020

              How much more idiotic of the media to swallow it whole. Truly a disgrace to their profession.

            • oldlaker

               /  31st May 2020

              It’s kind of weird but Ardern is getting very close to saying she has female intuition… she seems to be playing into an age-old stereotype about women being irrational.

            • Gezza

               /  31st May 2020

              Listening to or making decisions using one’s intuition isn’t irrational. Men & women both do it. I’ve even wondered if some animals do it too.

  8. Pink David

     /  31st May 2020

    Sweden is having it’s forth worst flu season in the decades.

    Reply
  9. artcroft

     /  1st June 2020

    a vaccine is still at least two years away and maybe four. The world will have moved on by then and learnt to live with the disease. But NZ under labour will have to remain a hermit kingdom, with Labour unable to admit a mistake.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  1st June 2020

      There was a long post-lockdown Queensland tourism ad inserted into a Youtube video I was watching last night. Airmed directly at New Zealanders.

      Reply

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