• rmacculloch

The PM (indirectly) responds to our questions to the Covid modelers: there will be no numbers

Yesterday on DownToEarth.Kiwi we posed two questions to the Covid modelers who've been advising our government, both asking for numbers. The first was about estimating the likelihood of avoiding the current lockdown had the vaccination rate been 70%. The second was to put numbers on what would be the situation once vaccination rates reached 70-80% and 'elimination' was winding down: could there still be significant virus outbreaks that would overwhelm our health system and require more lockdowns? Again, what kinds of numbers are we talking in terms of how big an outbreak could still be? Today Newshub report as their main headline that National Party Leader, Judith Collins, asked Prime Minister Ardern in Parliament whether "the current lockdown would have been necessary if the Government had managed to secure vaccines from Pfizer earlier". The other question they report Collins as asking was whether "NZ will be in a position to reduce the use of lockdowns and gathering size limits" as the level of Pfizer vaccinations increases.

The PM gave a terse reply, saying the government would "not put a number" on when the use of COVID restrictions won't be required. But weren't the virus modelers hired precisely for this kind of purpose: that is, to work out the impact of different policy actions by putting numbers on their potential outcomes? The model has been paid for by taxpayers and is up and running. Could it be that our politicians are unwilling to officially pose these kinds of questions to the modelers and release the numbers into the public domain? Yet we, as private individuals, also need those numbers to be able to form our own judgments.