I’m pleasantly surprised by the decision to move to level 2.
I was fully expecting the government to take Wellington straight to the usual level 3 lockdowns Auckland’s been forced into, so I find myself feeling grateful for a reasonably measured response today.
What failed to surprise me though was the immediate public reaction to the news of the imported case.
The first caller to Kerre’s show this morning said we should never have opened the bubble to Australia until we’d all been vaccinated.
Come on, that’s ridiculous. You cannot be that risk averse.
The logical end point of thinking like that – of having no risk at all - is to ban all flights from coming to the country because everyone - even if they go through MIQ or simply crew the flights – risk bringing covid in and we’ve seen that happen from time to time.
We obviously can’t do that, because people need to come home and we need to get our exports out on those planes. We have got to take some risk. We need the trans-Tasman bubble for a myriad reasons and the risk we took is that a case might leak over. It’s a calculated risk and it is one the health authorities are now managing.
In fact, that is not even the question we should be asking right now: whether the bubble was right or wrong.
The question we should be asking is why are we so far behind on the vaccinations, which lifts the risk of imported cases taking hold.
Wellington seems to have its foot right off the pedal here. The vaccination rates in Wellington are appalling. Wellington DHBs combined are the fifth worst-performing DHBs in the country.
I know of an over-65 year old with asthma who you’d consider to be in a high priority category who still hasn’t even been contacted about an jab appointment when less vulnerable over-65s in Auckland had theirs weeks ago.
That’s the problem. Not whether the bubble should’ve waited until we’re jabbed, but why we’re not jabbed, or getting there faster.
I don’t completely buy this argument about supply. Undoubtedly the government is now struggling to get jabs, but how did it end up in this situation?
We’re stoked about our millionth jab overnight. Australia’s rolled through more than 6.5 million jabs. It’s expecting to get 2.5 million more by the end of next week. That number would’ve done our whole eligible population.
Everyone else in the developed world of our size or bigger seems to have more vaccine than we do. How did that happen?
There’s clearly very little we can do to speed up a stubbornly sluggish rollout but if you want to worry about the risk we’re facing because of this guy from Sydney, it’s not the trans-Tasman bubble, it’s lack of vaccine.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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