Dr Liz Gordon: Daunting comparisons and necessary compulsion

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A scan around the world shows nothing is going to be easy if we are to live with Covid 19.

  1. Fully vaccinated people can still get Covid and transmit it.
  2. But vaccinated people will get it less severely and are much less likely to die.
  3. Vaccine effectiveness will dwindle over time and vaccination will become a way of life, probably annual.
  4. Getting the infection fosters a natural immunity, but it is not lasting.
  5. People who are not vaccinated and live in a nation where Covid 19 is endemic can expect to catch the virus around every 16 months, although many reinfections are much quicker.
  6. People who have been infected and vaccinated have a slightly higher level of immunity than others, but it still wanes fairly quickly.
  7. There are already potentially more infectious and fast-moving variants than Delta (including one called Delta-plus) and these will continue to emerge.
  8. The virus seems to love winter, and case numbers are soaring in northern countries even where vaccination rates are very high.  The UK is on 45,000 cases per day, with 3,500 deaths in the past month, with about the same level of vaccination as NZ.
  9. Summer may therefore give us a welcome respite – the calm before the storm.
  10. Humanity is going to have to live with Covid for the long term.  It’s not going to go away.  
  11. It is a very serious and deadly illness that can only be partially mitigated by vaccination – but that vaccination, accompanied by simple public health measures, is the best protection for all of us currently.

I did this scan initially to try and work out my own position on the vexed question of compulsory vaccinations for workers. Is this a terrible breach of human rights or is it a case of saving them from themselves?

The trouble with leaving people unvaccinated and expecting that nature will take its course – they will get the virus and either die or come out the other end (possibly after a degrading stint in hospital) with a moderate immunity – is now revealed.

We are going to have to live with Covid forever. Not just next week, month or year. Our health system will not be able to cope with the levels of sickness we will have opening up.

We have a responsibility to all of us to reduce the burden as much as possible.  This means compulsory vaccination for all, masks when infection rates are high and working from home as needed.

We will still need to treat non-vaccinated people who get sick as our duty of care does not end because a person acts foolishly.

I like the National Party’s S100 bonus. But it needs to be annual – each year a jab or two and $100.  I heard it calculated at $4 billion, but that’s not right: $100 for each of 5,000,000 is only $500 million! Cheap as chips.  Someone got a naught wrong. Naughty!

And yes, vaccine passports.  I can see we need them.  Paper or app. Let’s gear up for the long haul.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

 

Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Does NZ have a greater or lesser % of “vaccine hesitant” than Aussie? If greater, combined with our considerably worse health system, does it follow we may be in for a bigger clusterfuck than across the ditch? My twisted brain thinks so.

  2. Let us not open the international borders. Kiwi offshore have had nearly 2 years to come home.
    Those kiwis who just want to visit for a while can wait. Others with genuine reasons kapai.

    Giving up on Crisis seems to be a Labour party trait. You know, just like the; Homeless living in motels cost them $1m per day, Housing, this new plan for housing isn’t going to achieve much if anything when having a look at the plan.
    Terrorism, and the Health Crisis, Covid and a crashing health system, and Poverty! no movement there for nearly 4 years either!

    We should be having an early election. 2022 I reckon. Why? Because we’re in a bigger Crisis than we were in 2017 and 2020!

    • Early election?
      We’ve only just settled down after the last one where people didn’t take the option of giving National 45-50%+ of the vote. Didn’t give them massive support even though National would have sorted out poverty and homelessness, and housing costs, and housing shortages and handled Covid and its impacts wonderfully. With the number of those getting Covid or dying from it no worse than what they are now. And had anyone who wanted to come back in to the country back.

      Okay, let’s have another election, National 25%, ACT 26% and Seymour can be PM. All the inequities will be be on the way to disappearing.

      • Wrong! if an election was held. You would have a Labour-Nat coalition government or a Labour-ACT coalition government.

        Neither ACT nor the Nats can govern on their current numbers. ACT feeds-off, from the Nats and Labour, is bleeding to the both of them but not in huge numbers but, enough to inflict self-harm.

        ACT will only get up if the Nat’s numbers go down.

        The gweens have cancelled themselves and labour realise that they are too toxic to their brand.

    • We can now have a pretty good idea of what would happen if New Zealand was to be invaded by, say, Indonesian military forces:
      The government’s first reaction is to say that every nation gets invaded some time or other, we just need to minimize the effects of the invasion on our economy and the health system and we should not over react.
      The public is outraged and the government changes tack now vowing to throw the invaders back into the sea.
      However after the first wave of the invasion is successfully repelled, the tourism and hospitality business complains that being on a war footing is hurting their profits, and suggests allowing a small contingent of the invaders into the country as a way of reinvigorating the tourism and hospitality industry.
      Government is impressed with the logic of this argument and provides a suitable beach head for the invasion forces at Tamakimakaurau. Within a few days the invaders have pretty well taken over the city. Government is surprised and disappointed and declares that although it will be just too hard to eliminate the Indonesians from Tamakimakaurau, they will be held back from advancing either north or south of the newly conquered territory. But within days Indonesian units have penetrated as far as Te Awamutu and government announces a new strategy: we are all (at least 95% of us) to study Indonesian and a 24 hour telethon has us all learning how to say “Halo! Apa kabar?”.

  3. I can’t see any benefit in giving money to idiots for a free (but expensive ) vaccination. It would simply be money wasted. How about a health campaign on how to boost the immune system and perhaps subsidise Vitamins C and D for example ? The majority of NZers seem to be unaware of the nutritional needs of their body.

    • Hi aircooled guy. There are remarkably few known side effects – it has been such a successful response. For someone like you, who I think is quite resistant to vaccines, you are going to have to face up to the long-haul – getting the full force of the illness (it is a horrible, frightening illness) every year or two, plus passing it on unchecked to everyone, perhaps with significant long term health effects for you and/or your family, plus potential early death, or just shrugging your shoulders at the inevitable and getting your vaccine like the rest of us. Long term (i.e. next year onwards) what is your stance going to be? It’s not fair, I know, but then Covid doesn’t have an ethical system.

    • Aircooled,
      Say you were in a 20-seat waka crossing the ocean, and you chose not to paddle, eventually the side effects would be severe slappings with very hard paddles. If after that you’re still not contributing to the collective effort, the side effects would probably include feeding to the sharks. After all, it’s a lot easier to paddle a waka with 19 people when everyone is paddling, and when there is no dead weight. Not quite the scientific answer you were looking for, eh?

  4. Nr. 3 Isreal is at its second booster shot.
    so every 6 month, and that is if that is enough. An Australian Health person stated a few weeks back, every 3 – 5 month.
    How many booster shots will people be happy to get, and how many several hundreds of millions will hte government realistically spend in order to entice people to get the required shots. It might be easier in the future to just arrest people and lock them up. Prisons are a good Profit centre. And Jobs.

  5. A great reality check. I’m also afraid that the proposed restructuring of the health sector will bring a certain amount of chaos as is usually the case with restructuring.

    Also agree with Garibaldi.
    I think NZrs are nutritionally ignorant in general. How many people are aware, for example that minerals such as Zinc and Selenium are deficient in our soils and therefore, in our food? These minerals are vital to a healthy immune system. We decided to add Iodine to our salt decades ago to prevent goitre. Deficiencies in other minerals don’t present in such a grotesque and visible way.
    Education and subsidised supplements would be money well spent and a useful addition to all the measures outlined by Dr. Gordon.
    However there are a lot of shonky supplements out there. We would need to ensure that the educators are well qualified.

  6. What about using early treatment protocols. We can’t just put our eggs in the vaccine will save us for few months at a time basket. Fighting covid through being healthy and Every household gets a pack(immune vitamins, evermectin etc.) Like the WHO handed out in uttar pradesh. Maybe we can learn from our 3rd world friends who can’t afford rip-off big pharma products.

  7. “This means compulsory vaccination”
    Once you’ve made that assertion the obvious (but shamefully unasked and unanswered) question is what form should the compulsion take. Physical force, fines, imprisonment, loss of employment, loss of welfare benefits, what?
    Coincidentally I was just this morning reading an essay on this and what steps other jurisdictions have taken.
    https://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.com/2021/10/no-jab-no-unemployment-benefit.html

    • I did answer it. I am certainly not going to support Lindsay Mitchell who has been banging on about getting people (whether single mothers or the unemployed) off welfare for some 20 years or more. As I said, neither should we withdraw health support. I am opposed to any model that excludes people from the basic right to live in society. Apart from a shameful episode with confining people with leprosy to Quail Island, and the internment of various groups in the world wars on the basis of nationality, NZ has been very free from that kind of thing. m

  8. There’s every indication that the public and private sector are overwhelmingly in favour of mandates and passports. The government needn’t take a heavy handed approach toward all the ‘freedom-fighting’ anti-vax Fonzis out there – the right of these people to choose should be balanced with the rights of everyone else to protect themselves from the irresponsible behaviour of a churlish and selfish minority. I can’t be the only person to notice the absurdity in the fact we can legislate which steps of a ladder a tradesman can and can’t use, but there’s still ongoing confusion surrounding whether employers and business owners can choose to enforce even the most simple and expedient measures to protect staff and clientele from a potentially deadly illness.

    Choices have consequences. The hardcore anti-vaxxers will simply have to come to terms with that apparently not obvious enough fact. Enough of their tantrums, these are grown adults, not toddlers, and it’s time to start acting like it.

  9. Humans have always had boundaries constraining our lifestyle set by infectious diseases. There was a time when big cities were not feasible, before we learned to use fermentation or boiling or separated sewerage to produce safe drinking water.

    Sexual and other behavior had to change in response to Columbus and other explorers carrying STIs and other diseases between the New World and Europe, and to other countries.

    HIV/AIDS changed our behavior for decades, then PREP changed the scene again.

    There is nothing stopping a much more lethal version of Covid from emerging, or some other much worse pandemic. We are in a worse position to fight a new threat now than we were in 2020, due to the worldwide adoption of antivax as a political tool by extremist right wing parties and foreign wreckers.

    • Hi Simon, That is a really interesting perspective. You can see from that how the very uncertainty over the effects of Covid infection (from barely noticeable, to severe disease, to death or to long Covid) help sustain the antivax movement. If you got it, got horribly ill and died, there wouldn’t be all this dilly-dallying. Mind you, the virus would have been long gone by now, having taken millions with it (such as 1918 flu -it burned itself out by being too deadly). I am afraid I had to look up PREP-had never heard of it.

      • Yes Liz. The anti vax fear of the unknown side effects of covid (although the evidence is known), from a personal perspective, my fear is not the fear of death itself but the unknown, having to live with long covid.

    • Agree 100% Simon.
      NZ is really in a shitty position.
      A health system that is on it’s knee’s daily with an endemic pandemic threatening to over power it with anti’ vax people who have no real reason to decline it threatening to bring the whole system down bringing normal healthcare down with it.
      Many people with long term illnesses are shiting bricks right now.
      That includes the 29 year old T1 diabetic friend whose meds I shell out $400 to 500 a week for.

      This is what it does
      https://www.the-scientist.com/infographics/infographic-the-havoc-sars-cov-2-wreaks-on-the-body-69111?

      I have shared it around heaps and still the anti’s call it misinformation bull crap.

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