Finally, an article on the South China Morning Post underlining the issue with Asia's 'zero Covid' policy (with a gratuitous shot of an AF 77W taking off from LAX for some reason):https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/health-e ... -hong-kong
Since the start of the pandemic, most of Asia seems to have taken the path of harsh restrictions to eliminate the virus from their borders, which has had the inevitable consequence of durably sealing their borders to the rest of the World. This applies to NZ and OZ as well.
While they have been largely successful in doing so, they now find themselves faced with a virus that has durably established itself within the human population, and which will likely never be eliminated as not enough people will get vaccinated.
The choice now becomes to remain isolated from the rest of the World for the foreseeable future, or do what the West does and learn to live with the virus by mitigating it as much as possible through building natural and artificial immunity.
The problem is that many of these nations have decided to rely more on their 'hiding in a hole' strategy than building immunity, and thus vaccination programs in these countries have barely even started and, in the few places where vaccines are available, uptake is low.
They now face difficult choices ahead as they have now gone so far down this path that coming back is going to be painful, but continuing forward will isolate them further and more durably through ever harsher measures, with nasty consequences on their economies, as they witness the West moving on.
Certainly the NZ covid strategy is, like most of the rest of the world, heavily reliant on vaccinating a very high proportion of our population.
This requires minimising vaccine hesitancy. Vaccinating the last percentages of populations, is a very significant challenge yet to be faced everywhere , a challenge that will impact on the success or otherwise of any campaign.
Minimising vaccine hesitancy requires maximising public confidence in the vaccines. Therefore NZ was very conservative in approving the vaccines delaying until substantial data was available from the early vaccinating countries, as if significant problems had become evident, they would impact the eventual public confidence a high uptake requires. Data now available suggests that the Pfizer vaccine has amongst the very best effect and the least problems.
This and simplifying rollout with only one vaccine were the reason we have accepted as a trade off, delayed vaccine Pfizer supply in order to maximise public confidence. We have now enough Pfizer vaccine on order, and scheduled to arrive to complete our vaccination programme by year end.
The elimination strategy employed has given us this breathing space, without the urgency that most other countries have faced.
Community programs, and media campaigns are now well underway to reduce vaccine hesitancy and to counter vaccine misinformation. We have no need to prematurely to freely open entry to people from locations with high transmission rates.
I see travel opportunities here only slowly continuing to be advanced, especially until the bulk of our population is immunised.
I see it as misconceptions that :
1/ We a suffering harsh restrictions, the reality is that for most of NZ total lockdown and school closures have only been seven weeks of which two weeks were scheduled holidays anyway. And apart from border restrictions and masks on public transport we have suffered zero other restrictions for the vast majority of the last 15 months. With zero virus circulating our only restrictions are to minimise transmission in the event of leakage from border facilities.
2/ That we intend isolating ourselves from the rest of the world for ever. The isolation phase is only until our vaccination program widens our options.
But entry will be more restrictive then before, expect a requirement for verifiable vaccination certification, and some continuation on restrictions to entry, even prohibition, from locations with high infection rates.
That is all good on paper and NZ is to be commended for how they handled covid.
When you do open the country to travel must realize that even with a large percentage of vaccination and requiring proof of Covid19 vaccination for all 100% incoming travelers cases are going to get in and spread, ideally most will be mild but not all of them. Will NZ be ready then to handle that community spread or will it be locking down when this happens and it is inevitable.
Asia will never get out of this worsening cycle of restrictions.
By sticking to a strategy of isolation and increasing restrictions to suppress the virus instead of having focused early on vaccines to build immunity, there will come a time where the virus will mutate enough to require constant lockdowns and harsh quarantine measures to curtail it.
As this virus will never go away and keep evolving around the mesures we throw at it, they might find that this tactic may not work well on the long term. Immunity is the only viable solution. Anything else is only delaying the inevitable.
It will indeed be interesting to see how things unwind. Humanity has, of course, faced countless new diseases, viruses, and illness over millennia, but what is new this time around is having governments attempting to exert this level of long-term technocratic control over society. I don’t say this as some anarchist by any means...I’ve done the masking, taken the vaccine, etc. But I am just genuinely curious how things will unfold in the medium term in certain countries/societies. Part of me truly is concerned that some societies have become so risk-averse that permanent curtailment of some individual liberties and isolation will be accepted.
I think its two things primarily.
One is (because of successful vaccines and treatments) many diseases much worse than Covid have been either eradicated or can be controlled we have probably most of the living adults alive today not remember the terror those other infections caused. There is no living person alive today that can actually tell us how bad Polio or the Spanish Flu was. Viruses like Measles, Mumps, Chickenpox etc. were essentially considered so called right-of-passages in life not so long ago. Definitely not so today at least in the west.
In essence we have short memories and have become complacent. So this feels even to really smart people (who should know better) a huge crisis when back in 1850 this would be just one of the things that will kill you. We have managed to deal with a lot of this and Covid is a shock in the 21st century but compared to past pandemics this is essentially a peanut.
Cancer rates are rising now and people blame, things like the sun, plastic, vaccines, meat, etc. Well yes Cancer rates are rising because people are for the first time living to 80 on a regular basis and the body breaks down and Cancer can happen and we can screen for it and catch it early.
Go back to 1850 and that would just be called death, it sucks for the family but life goes one. (I am well aware this is heartless, but nature is a heartless b*tch). Just because humans developed technology to help up live longer and stay healthy for the most part doesn't mean that we have changed nature and this brings me to the next reason.
TOTAL ARROGANCE that humans feel they can control nature and are calling the shots. Pandemics are natural and they f*ck shit up and this is what we are seeing now. On occasion the wrong animals meet and a virus or bacteria pass to humans that is novel and reigns terror. Ironically this pandemic might not even be natural but a consequence of human playing god and it leaked from a lab.
To give the doctors credit they have been sounding the alarm about this for years so many did know this was coming. Also many who study climate change have said that pandemics are a consequence of things like deforestation or urban sprawl thus making something like covid be a once in a decade event instead of a once in a century event.
Another level of arrogance is that many people think that disease is not my problem because I am rich and have the best healthcare or I do this, this and this to keep myself healthy. I would argue most of the anti-vaxxers fall in here.
When that reality falls away many in the government have reacted to these measures as they have been used in the past but the reality which we are seeing now is that it only buys time as the 100nm virus has been around a lot longer than humans and has the evolutionarily advantage. When we eradicated smallpox it did take 200 or so years to achieve it, I think the first vaccine for Smallpox was created in the late 1700's and the virus was eradicated in 1980. We are going to have to live with Covid for some time if not forever. We need to have a debate now about how to move forward and live with Covid or we will be in a perpetual state of this and I thinks society is at the seams in a lot of places.
George Carlin explains it better than me.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X29lF43mUlo