New Zealand has self proclaimed to be the leading country in the world when it comes to their covid response. Many feel the world looks at New Zealand’s covid response with envy. I tend to disagree with this. In fact, I believe New Zealand has had one of the most unsatisfactory responses to the pandemic in the entire world. I understand I am a major outlier in taking this viewpoint, but I hope by the end of this post you start looking at New Zealand’s covid response in a way you never have thought about before.
First things first, our lockdowns. When the original strain of covid ripped across the world in the first quarter of 2020, Jacinda Adern was quick to implement what she called the “go hard and go early’ doctrine. What this essentially meant was before New Zealand was swamped with too many covid cases, Our borders were closed and we went into a strict lockdown for 4 weeks. This move was bold, but it ended up working (for the time being), as New Zealand essentially ‘defeated’ Covid. However, fast forward a year and a half later to when the Delta variant first arrived in New Zealand, The government decided to roll the dice and take another chance at a strict lockdown. This time it didn’t work, in fact it was an incredibly botched attempt and highlighted how unprepared our government was to actually deal with covid once it inevitably (key point) arrived. Was ‘locking down’ an effective strategy? Most kiwis say yes, but I say they were absolutely devastating to our country.
Before I continue, I need to address a theme that will be vital in all the points I make here. It is that throughout this pandemic, people, governments and epidemiologists have resorted to short term thinking. Absolutely no thought has been given to the long term consequences caused by the decisions we make today. This brings us back to lockdowns. Lockdowns are the epitome of what short term thinking looks like. The government was focussed on short term factors such as the amount of cases and amount of deaths, without considering the long term implications of what a lockdown would cause. Yes, we may have ‘kept’ covid out (the first time) but what about the effects on the economy, people’s livelihoods, mental health and young children? Shouldn’t these be vital considerations? To back up my claim, John Hopkins University (one of the most prolific, prestigious and credible scientific universities in the world), conducted a study on the link between state enforced lockdowns in relation to the spread and death toll of Covid-19. The study concluded that government imposed lockdowns were only 0.2% effective at slowing the spread of covid-19! This may seem odd considering to our credit New Zealand did indeed ‘beat’ covid the first time. In reality however we were only pushing out the inevitable fact that covid was going to indeed come, and we were eventually going to have to live with it. The study cited above goes on to say that all things considered, state enforced lockdowns were such bad policy decisions, they were ‘Morally and Economically Irresponsible.’
The terrifying thing is we don’t know what the full long-term impact of these lockdowns and restrictions will be on the economy and society as a whole. Many economists believe that the impacts from these policies will eventually cause more poverty related deaths than the mortality rate of covid-19, much more. Young people should be very concerned about this. 2 weeks to flatten the curve has turned into 2 years to flatten a whole generation. We are already seeing inflation hit highs it hasn’t hit for several decades. Close to 7.5% in New Zealand. Who does inflation hit the hardest? Working class people and poor people. Poverty kills, and these state imposed restrictions have created a climate that breeds poverty. All of this destruction to only halt the spread of covid by 0.2%, disgraceful. Depression, anxiety and other terrible mental health diseases are rampant throughout New Zealand. This is another issue that politicians dodge constantly. The pandemic or more accurately, the Government’s response to the pandemic has ignited this issue even further. We don’t even know what the psychological consequences are going to be of young children being locked down and having to wear masks. They could be catastrophic.
Our terrible covid response doesn’t end with lockdowns unfortunately. After our ‘elimination’ strategy proved ineffective (which it inevitably always would), the government still imposed overly bureaucratic and authoritarian measures to ‘slow’ the spread of covid-19. The most prominent of measures has been vaccine mandates and the vaccine pass system. Before we continue it’s important to note I am fully vaccinated and am very much pro vaccination. What I don’t agree with, however, is the state forcing people to be vaccinated in order to keep their livelihoods. This is exactly what the New Zealand government has done over the past couple of months and it is absolutely disgusting. First of all, the government’s whole rhetoric of unvaccinated individuals putting others at ‘risk’ is completely and utterly ludicrous. If you are fully vaccinated such as myself, why should you be worried about someone who isn’t. Does that not defeat the whole point of the argument that this vaccine is scientifically proven to be effective (which it is). If this vaccine is effective and you are fully vaccinated, then why on earth are you worried about the personal choice of someone else? It highlights the paranoia and fear the government has injected into New Zealanders throughout the past 2 years. The government invoking vaccine mandates, essentially destroying the livelihoods, families and careers of people over a personal bodily autonomy decision is absolutely tyrannical and very much terrifying. This one decision is going to have dire consequences felt many generations from now.
New Zealand, a famously peaceful country, has already seen violent and bloody riots outside our parliament. It is truly frightening how much hate and division our government has caused throughout it’s covid response. This is what I mean by short term and long term thinking. Vaccine mandates were merely imposed in the short term to boost the country’s vaccination statistics to look good globally, without considering the long term stains it could have on New Zealand society. The long term consequences of these policies are going to be tremendously worse than covid itself, especially under the wave of the far less severe omicron variant.
Ironically, New Zealand is now in the midst of our first real wave of covid-19 while the rest of the world is essentially celebrating the end of the pandemic. Cases numbers are rising rapidly, and people are scared only due to the mere fact the government and the media has frightened us about the virus the past 2 years. Let’s face the truth, our governments covid measures throughout the past 2 years haven’t worked at all. They have only postponed the inevitable fact a wave of covid would essentially sweep across the country. We are lucky, however, it’s the omicron variant in this instance and not Delta or the original strain. In fact we should all be rejoicing in the fact that Covid has finally hit New Zealand. The sooner more people catch it, the more natural immunity our population will have which will in turn spell the end of the pandemic. We can’t be fearful of this virus, especially omicron. If you are fully vaccinated and supplement that with the right lifestyle choices, food and exercise then there is nothing to be worried about. Don’t take my word for it, South African scientists have said omicron is the strain that will end the pandemic, and that there is nothing to be worried about as Covid is now the most treatable respiratory disease in the world. Scientists in Europe have stated the same thing. We can’t go on living like a hermit kingdom in fear of a virus which isn’t nearly as bad as the media and government have hyped it up to be. We must follow the United Kingdom’s lead in dropping all mandates, restrictions and isolation requirements. Covid is a short term issue, in the long term preserving our freedoms, rights and dignity are far more important to society.