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Remember Prof. Baker, from Otago Medical School? He argued elimination of Covid was "sustainable", would become "more feasible" with vaccines & that such a policy would lead to superior economic outcomes. We (mostly) agree that NZ's lockdowns in the early stages of the virus were a success, but were they ever "sustainable"? Give us a break.

Baker wrote in the British Medical Journal, "China’s success in containing the pandemic has shown Covid can be eliminated even after widespread community transmission". China gave up on elimination these past weeks. Baker wrote that "one of the perceived barriers to applying .. elimination .. is the belief that it might sacrifice the economy .. Our preliminary analysis suggests that the opposite is true". One of the primary reasons China has abandoned elimination is because the strategy was collapsing its economy.

Anyhow, on 13 December, Prof. Baker was quoted as follows regarding the death rate from Coronavirus on Radio NZ:

"Covid-19 is killing 3 times as many NZ'ers as influenza does in a typical year. University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker said while Covid-19 does share some similarities with influenza, it's had a more severe impact on Kiwis than influenza usually does."It's far more severe," Baker said & could be shaping up to be our second biggest killer".

One day later, on 14 December, this was Bloomberg News' top headline:

China’s Top Medical Adviser Says Omicron’s Risks Same as Flu

China's fatality rate from the omicron variant of Coronavirus is in line with influenza. The death rate from omicron is around 0.1%, similar to the common flu, and the infection rarely reaches the lungs, Zhong Nanshan was quoted in an interview with state news agency Xinhua. Most people recover from the variant within seven to 10 days, he said.

So who is Zhong Nanshan? He was President of the Chinese Medical Association from 2005-2009 and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Thoracic Disease. He is a recipient of Medal of the Republic, the highest honour of China. He earned international fame for managing the SARS outbreak and was renowned for refuting the official line which downplayed the severity of the crisis. He was voted one of China's top 10 scientists in 2010. He won "Paper of the Year" in one of the world's top international Medical Journals, The Lancet", in 2008.

Is Michael Baker saying Zhong Nanshan is wrong?


The PM called the leader of the ACT Party, David Seymour, an "arrogant prick" today. David is, by the way, the Member of Parliament who, by far, has been the most interested in debating economics issues with me. Why? Because they genuinely interest him, he cares passionately about them and he is extremely knowledgeable about such matters.

As for the Prime Minister's economics advisers, even though their qualifications in the subject are either non-existent or abysmally poor, they know everything - they know how to print money, they knew it wouldn't cause inflation even though this Blog predicted it, they knew it was best to abolish Charter Schools, even though Democratic President Obama called them "beacons of hope" and "incubators of innovation", especially helping underprivileged children from minority groups - the PM's economics advisers know their way of organizing the NZ health-care system is superior to how the French, Singaporeans & Canadians organize theirs, even though those nations have far greater involvement of private providers and better health outcomes than ours - and her advisers know that public projects & regulations whose costs exceed their benefits are still good for society because economists are stupid to try reducing everything to costs & benefits - they also knew it was best not to implement a pricing & subsidy scheme that would've enabled Managed Isolation & Quarantine (MIQ) places to be granted according to need, which this Blog pleaded with them to do - they also knew it was best to under-order the Pfizer vaccine to save pennies but which ended up costing us billions due to the late order - it was easy to work out that was a mistake (Sir John Key quoted this Blog's calculations in his "hermit kingdom" speech) - and they know how to run our Universities with zero input from folks at the coal face like me - because such types who actually teach courses are obviously clueless about education.

Yes, if you want arrogant pricks - go no further than the PM's economics advisers. Seymour and his staff will debate the subject anytime with me - but Ardern's team won't. Why should they? They already know the answers.

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Robert MacCulloch

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