Having resisted our calls to "show us the numbers", the government finally relents
On 6 September, DownToEarth Kiwi pleaded with the government to pose this question to the Covid Modellers:
QUESTION: Once 70% of people are fully vaccinated & assuming NZ then starts unwinding its elimination policy, how big could an outbreak still be? How many hospitalizations could occur in that event? How about if the vaccination rate was 80%?
Today, Health Minister Little revealed that "Modelling is being done to try & work out what level of vaccination coverage would prevent hospitals being overwhelmed". Little said the experts are trying out a range of figures. "It depends on what vaccination rates are & we know there are slight regional variations. It's hard to put a single number on it, except that even with a highly vaccinated population, once the borders are open that risk sort of goes up".
Once these numbers have been worked out, then Treasury can do the cost-benefit analysis which we've also been pleading with them to do for months, to see whether staying on a Level 4 lockdown is justified on a social welfare basis. Our calls became headline news yesterday, run under the story line "Economists Demand Magic Numbers from Government, Treasury as Lockdown Drags on" (see below).
At last some progress. Problem is, though, our health system by most reports just ain't ready for it. And they've had a long time to get it ready. Eighteen months. Yet Health Minister Little said today, "Getting the hospitals geared up with the right facilities in the right places to be able to accommodate people not just in ICU but on wards as well - specific dedicated COVID wards - I've asked the Ministry of Health to look at all of that".
Asked them "To look at all of that"? What? Only now?