Has the government mismanaged the deployment of the vaccine in New Zealand?
If one were to accept the statements of National Party Leader Judith Collins and her Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop, as well as other critics, the Labor government has mismanaged the deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine ( Pfizer) in New Zealand.
To assess whether this claim is fair or not, one must first understand what mismanagement really means. One of the meanings is to manage or deal with something incorrectly or inefficiently; another is to handle something in a rude or careless way.
This statement should also be seen in the context of the vaccine manufacturing and supply market and the effectiveness of the strategy to eliminate community-based transmission of value attached to human life. At the root of all of this is the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, which means that the normal system of vaccination through general medicine clinics could not be used.
An overwhelming criticism of the government’s handling of the vaccine rollout is based on how New Zealand compares to the 37 other countries that make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Certainly, if these data were the only indicator to take advantage of mismanagement, the criticism would seem justified; we are close to the bottom.
But the OECD immediately cautions against drawing quick conclusions. He cautions that the comparison is per 100 people, which excludes multiple doses per person. New Zealand religiously followed Pfizer’s three-week period before the second dose, but the OECD data does not take this into account for comparison purposes.
Nevertheless it is not a good look if the vision is limited to this comparison. However, context is needed. Under the eye-catching title âA Rocky Road from Lab to Jabâ, the OECD provides an important perspective on the challenge of deployments (https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/en/vaccins).
It indicates that between “… 50% and 75% of the world population will have to be vaccinated before the end of the pandemic. This requires building manufacturing and distribution capacities, making a new vaccine affordable, deciding who should have access to it first, and planning massive vaccination campaigns. The production, delivery and administration of COVID-19 vaccines pose significant logistical challenges and involve many stakeholders. “
The OECD also makes some interesting observations on how long it takes the 33 most advanced economies to return to pre-pandemic gross domestic product per capita (https://www.oecd.org/ economic-outlook /) .
Ten countries are expected to meet this target before the end of this year. New Zealand is not one of them. But he’s one of the next six who should reach that goal.
through the end of the year. Germany is another. The other 17 advanced economies will follow next year and beyond, including Australia, Canada, UK and France. Vaccines are essential to economic recovery from a pandemic, but not the only factor.
Control of vaccine supply
The full context also includes the vaccine supply which is controlled by the largest international pharmaceutical companies (âBig Pharmaâ). Big Pharma is driven by profit maximization. Before the pandemic, vaccine development and manufacturing was not a priority investment not because it was not profitable, but because it was not profitable enough compared to other return opportunities. on investment.
The coronavirus pandemic drastically changed the pharmaceutical market, but profit maximization continued to dictate implementation priorities. New Zealand ranks very low in the OECD deployment data. But it also ranks very low in terms of the size of the economy with a population of just five million. We were never going to compete with economies the size of the United States, the European Union, or the United Kingdom.
With Big Pharma controlling the market through manufacturing, production and distribution, a small economy like New Zealand was always going to be a lower return on investment and therefore a lower priority. Consequently, it was a success for the government to have negotiated early purchasing agreements, subject to regulatory authorization, with various vaccine producers before settling on Pfizer (an American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company headquartered in New York).
The deployment target was based on known supply dates and quantities determined by Pfizer’s capacity and priorities. New Zealand negotiated above its weight, but obviously with less influence than larger, less isolated economies. We have achieved the target set by the agreement with Pfizer. In addition, our supplies are now increasing significantly in accordance with this agreement and we are currently developing a valuable backup option with the Janssen single dose vaccine.
That’s not to say there aren’t legitimate reviews. While the government has acknowledged that vaccine deployment is subject to overseas sourcing, it has not emphasized this important message to ensure it is a key part of public discourse.
District health boards have been frustrated with interference from the health ministry (including pressuring some to slow vaccine distribution so that supplies do not run out before the next arrival date. supply (sort of like trying to land a plane on a postage stamp.) Unfortunately, DHBs have been scapegoats for the confusion and problems they inherit because they are on the front lines of implementation. They have been criticized for communication failures. Some of this seems justified. But DHBs have also been thwarted by sometimes poor communication (or lack of ministry. They can only communicate what they know.
Canterbury DHB has been criticized for being below the national immunization average, even though it is on time to meet the schedule previously agreed with the ministry. Comparing the performance of DHB based on a national average is misleading due to differences in their populations including density, deprivation, and location.
Value of human life
The deployment of the vaccine must also be evaluated in the context of how human life is valued. New Zealand is one of the few countries that has adopted an elimination (instead of mitigation) strategy to combat community transmission. Basically, elimination gives greater primacy to the value of human life than the mitigation alternative.
The best indicator of the effectiveness of elimination (versus mitigation) is provided by a comparison of death rates from Covid-19 (deaths per million people) as of July 8: https: // www .statista.com / statistics / 1104709 / coronavirus-deaths-worldwide-per-million-inhabitants /.
The following large OECD economies adopted various forms of mitigation for at least much of 2020. Their death rates per million were: United Kingdom (1,915.73), United States (1,838.57 ), France (1,628.25), Germany (1,096.41) and Canada (701.16). Australia’s strategy varied from state to state between elimination and mitigation. His death rate was 35.88.
So what was the death rate in New Zealand? It was an extremely low level of 5.29 deaths per million. In addition to saving hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives, we were better placed to learn from the first vaccines and we have learned a lot.
The teachings include vaccine safety, with Pfizer’s refrigeration requirements being less stringent than before, the gap between its first and second dose can still be safe (perhaps safer) for more than three weeks, the vaccine effectiveness against newer, more dangerous variants such as Delta; and effectiveness of the Janssen vaccine. General practitioners are now in a better position to reassure worried patients, which is essential for obtaining herd immunity.
Was the deployment mismanaged?
Half a million New Zealanders are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus while more than 760,000 have received at least one dose. In addition, we are on schedule to fully vaccinate anyone who wants to be vaccinated by the end of the year.
Given the exceptional circumstances of this unprecedented pandemic, the power of large pharmaceutical companies to manufacture and supply vaccines, our small economy, and the success of our elimination strategy, including higher value for human life, the government managed the vaccine deployment correctly and efficiently. In addition, he did not handle it (give or take a little turn) neither brutally nor carelessly.
The vaccine rollout was well managed; not perfectly or without confusion and uncertainty but hey, nonetheless.
Originally posted here.
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