27 August 2020
New Zealand experts and officials are betting the nation’s health and wealth on the slim chance of eliminating a virus and getting a vaccine before the natural end to the pandemic.
The Covid Plan B group says today’s announcement that the Government is putting aside more money to pay for making and distributing a vaccine, highlights the narrow margin for success of the Government’s policy.
Simon Thornley, group spokesperson, says while it makes absolute sense to try for a vaccine, the framing of announcements is giving people “false hope”.
“There’s only a very slim chance that a full safety-checked vaccine will be ready before the pandemic subsides, and even then, it most likely won’t be useful for the group most at risk – the elderly.
“A vaccine would be great to have, but these announcements have the effect of enticing people to back the strategy of elimination, and its lockdowns, while holding out for a vaccine.
“This strategy requires there are no community acquired cases of Covid-19 in NZ and no deaths forever, (ie. elimination), and dissemination of a vaccine against Covid-19 that achieves herd immunity.
Other international experts concur. Dr Mark Woolhouse (Professor of infectious disease epidemiology, UK) said in a recent interview, “I would not dignify waiting for a vaccine with the term ‘strategy’. That’s hope, not a strategy.”
“For elimination to be successful, we have to do that with no decline in quality of life or mortality for other illnesses, no reduction in social wellbeing, mobility or happiness measure, no increase in people living in poverty, no decline in economic measures or at least a decline less than observed in the rest of the world.” Simon Thornley says.
Politicians, media and commentators with time to learn more about vaccines research and practicalities of safety, manufacturing and dissemination, are recommended to check out the presentation of Byram Bridle, a Canadian researcher working on a coronavirus ‘plug and play’ vaccine, at a symposium about New Zealand’s plan. https://www.covidplanb.co.nz/videos/
Contact: Simon Thornley, 021 299 1752