24 April 2020


Simon Thornley, epidemiologist with the Covid Plan B Group, says the Government’s shift into a hardline elimination or zero spread objective against Covid, is “unique and brave”.

Thornley says he admires the willingness of New Zealanders to undertake a national project that will require tough social restrictions for at least a year, and a nationwide vaccination programme if a vaccine becomes available.

“It is unique and brave; and if any country can do it, New Zealand can.

“The plan rests on tough social restrictions that only end when a vaccine is invented and most of the population is vaccinated.

“Data from the rest of the world suggests that it is unnecessary. We could safely return to our original ‘flatten the curve approach’ of protecting the vulnerable while immunity is gained amongst the healthy population.”

In a post to the Groups website today, Thornley says evidence suggests that it is not true that New Zealand’s population is defenseless and only a lock down is halting the virus.

Serological tests from samples of people in New York, Germany and California, show that between 4 to 15 per cent of the population have seen the virus, recovered from it, and are now immune.

“It shows that the mortality of the virus is much lower than previously appreciated. Also, it demonstrates why a suppression strategy is better than elimination. China, which is trying to eliminate the virus, is now experiencing a resurgence in cases.”

“Recent analysis from the US shows that lockdowns are not effective in reducing Covid-19 deaths. The data shows that the strongest factor determining a State’s Covid-19 deaths is population density. The lower it is, the lower the death rate. This is a key factor in New Zealand’s favour.”