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  • rmacculloch

Has Health Minister Hipkins misread Granny Herald's poll? Has the Herald misread the Herald's poll?

Last month the PM told TVNZ news that "No matter what, there is a vaccine for everyone. Everyone eligible will be able to get vaccinated this year." In other words, within the next four months, the expectation is that most Kiwis, at least 70%, will be fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the results of a NZ Herald-Kantar Poll were released yesterday. It randomly surveyed 1,000 of us and asked, "Should NZ continue with its Strategy of Covid-19 elimination?" Respondents were given three options (1) "Yes we should pursue Covid-19 elimination"; (2) "Yes we should pursue Covid-19 elimination until more than 70% of the population is vaccinated"; (3) "No we will have to learn to live with Covid". The Herald report that 47% of Kiwis ticked option (1); 39% option (2); and 13% option (3).

My interpretation of these results is that 52% of Kiwis (=39% + 13%) are saying that in a few months time, certainly before Christmas, providing the government sticks to its vaccination schedule, elimination should be ended as a policy. How else could one read the poll? Don't a clear majority of 5% (i.e., 52% compared to 47%) prefer either abandoning elimination forthwith, or only pursuing it "until more than 70%" are vaccinated, which is just several months away? The difference is significant as the margin of error equals 3%.

Yet the NZ Herald reports that Health Minister Hipkins says the Poll reveals how "Support from nearly 9 in 10 Kiwis to keep Covid-19 out of NZ is a strong endorsement". And the paper's columnist, Matthew Hooton, writes today that the Poll "shows a nation united behind our current Covid strategy". But why didn't he say the Poll shows a nation divided on the question of whether the elimination strategy should be shortly ended? Isn't that headline more faithful to the actual Poll results? And why did Hooton include the word "current" when it was not mentioned in the Poll question and when "current" government strategy is NOT to abandon elimination once 70% of the population is vaccinated?

Am I missing something? Being no medical expert, I'm not qualified to argue in favor of one strategy for dealing with a virus over another - my interest is simply trying to interpret the results of this poll. And it seems to be the opposite to what our mainstream media have reported. By the way, survey data has been a focus of my work for decades and in survey questions, every word counts.



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