History repeats itself, as we’re often told.

So it would seem with the current utterly irrational lockdown which brings to mind the most famous quote from the Vietnamese War.

That of course was, “We had to destroy the village to save it”, this from an American soldier to New Zealand born journalist Peter Arnett.

After 4 months of coronavirus the global death rate, mainly of elderly or people with serious organ disabilities, would have equated in New Zealand to 25 deaths. If wisdom had prevailed the month long closure should solely have applied to those folk.

The aftermath of the imposed economic devastation doesn’t bear thinking about.

It’s sheer madness.


Couldn’t agree more. The really scary bit is the total lack of any dissenting voices from the press or opposition. So much for a free country

But Sir Bob, heaven forbid you mention something like this on Twitter…a certain pink-haired associate professor and her legion of sycophants will have your head! Apparently only microbiologists are allowed an opinion, and only if it allows for a full lock-up of an entire population.

Modeling released by the government makes zero mention of economic trade-offs, whilst making dire forecasts on the assumption of no changes in behaviours. The models show ~87% of people that died would be over 65+ and obviously most would have risk factors. No analysis has been undertaken to my knowledge about Quality-adjusted Life Years (QALY), nor the cost to “save” those QALYs. All reason has been thrown out. The argument is that the economy would tank in any case, but surely not to anywhere close to the same extent as what is currently being incurred (at a cost that is not even calculated to my knowledge). No analysis has been shared about the costs and benefits of isolating those at higher risk (the elderly, those with high risk factors, compromised immune systems). The mind boggles at the lunacy…

Here’s the thing. At the end of this heroic shutdown, NZ will become a ‘bubble’ what happens then?
Will we sit here, extending everyone’s visit to these fair shores by two weeks while they sit in non-blissful isolation, while we wait on a vaccine?
Why not have a designated virus carrier(s) barbecue, at popular locations, then invite others, healthy ones, so they get the bug. [might even get the gummint to contribute] then rinse and repeat. by the time the vaccine comes, we’ll be immune.
just a thought.

    Except of course, by the time the vaccine comes, the death toll will be enormous. Not just virus direct deaths, but those indirectly dying as a result of not receiving the necessary health care due to the hospital system being overwhelmed. This is an economic cost far greater than any lockdown.
    Why do Kiwis just not get this? It is NOT like seasonal flu. We are still dealing with the unknown.

There are a couple of considerations that leave me unconvinced by your argument that we and the world should just have let the virus rip, or perhaps more fairly, that the lockdown should only apply to the elderly with serious organ failures.

The first is that it seems unlikely to me that the Chinese government, which is authoritarian, able to control public opinion, and puts a very high emphasis on economic growth, would have undertaken such draconian measures to lock-down a large part of its economy unless the consequences of letting the virus rip were clearly going to be much worse than the cure. Similarly, if it would have been effective to simply lock down old folk with serious underlying health conditions they would have done so.

The second is that it does seem clear that letting the virus rip would overwhelm the health system and risk devastating front-line health workers. There were news reports from Italy a few days ago that 51 doctors had died after contracting the virus from patients. Assuming the reports are correct that is unsustainable, and democratic governments would not survive allowing that sort of carnage without taking the only known measures likely to succeed in controlling the spread of the virus.

Having said that, the government should have undertaken cost-benefit analysis on mitigation and control options and scenarios as soon as it became obvious there was a pandemic. For example, it would most likely have been vastly less expensive to put all incoming air passengers under mandatory and policed quarantine for a couple of weeks, including assigning people to get them essential supplies, than to lock down the entire country for four weeks and likely longer.

Also the prolonged hysteria on the tv news about one person dying with Covid 19, when the person was over 70 with multiple underlying conditions and when over 100 people die on average every day in NZ, was truly nauseating.

    Well said

      Magoo. The last defence of those without an argument is abuse, which you have twice now resorted to.

      Your knowledge of China and its government is totally ignorant. The Provinces are to great extent autonomous. The central government, like in the USA, is often slow to act and struggles to act at all at the local level with things like wet markets. As I have clearly stated, in my view the Chineese government is evil, but your ludicrous views are not only ignorant, but seek to demonize 1.4 billion people for what you see as the sins of all, rather than the actions of a relative few backwards people in Southern China.
      If you are other bigots can not see that covid 19 is the great unknown, and when it hits Africa and South America hard, as it will, the death toll will be horrendous.

      However, I am wasting my breath as clearly you are a fool, as why else resort to your infantile abuse, bigotry and ignorance?

      Fang Zhou: Actually my wife & the mother of my 3 children is Chinese & I have spent substantial time in China, so you’re barking up the wrong tree with your claims of bigotry & ignorance. Having said that, your doomsday predictions and your defense of the Chinese govt are still idiotic, even more so when you try to defend them with additional idiotic claims of bigotry & ignorance. Still, laughter is the best medicine so at least something came from it. 😉

    I am Chinese although now a Kiwi citizen (otherwise I would not dare to make these posts!). I despise my former government for all its lies and evil. But really, China science is at least equal to the world standard, probably better in many areas. If the China took such extreme measures in January, knowing the impact upon the Chinese economy (and the risks to its own future), does that tell you that this is truly a potential ‘Black Death’?
    Kiwis, wake up!

      One thing I would like to see is more encouragement for Westerners to wear masks or face coverings. Dr George Gao, head of the Chinese CDC, says this is a mistake the West is making. The US CDC is now reconsidering its position on this too. To end the lockdown and stop community transmission (which could result in Intensive Care Units being overwhelmed as seen in NYC and Northern Italy) people should wear masks or DIY masks.


      Or maybe China were trying to look like they were doing something about the international economic and health crisis that they are directly responsible for, especially after their cover up attempts. I hope they’re held responsible and suffer serious repercussions for causing a global depression and thousands of deaths.

      The current death rate is 5%, & it’s probably a lot lower than that as coronavirus death rates are a % of actual reported cases, whereas seasonal flu death rates are a % of estimated total infected – many cases of COVID-19 are either not reported or not even noticed. Its not the black death which had a 30-60% death rate, & only an idiot would say or think it is.

      Magoo, ‘only an idiot’ would engage with your conspiracy theories, or blame an entire peoples or country or central government for the backward practices of a relatively isolated and very backward province.

      And no, I m not saying this is the black death. I am saying we are still dealing with the unknown, and unlike Black Death, it is not limited to Europe and Asia, but is in every country on earth.

      Amh Zhou: Let me just quote you regarding your black death chicken-littery shall I:

      ‘… does this tell you that this is truly a potential ‘Black Death’? Kiwis, wake up!’

      Stop your idiotic, unfounded, alarmist scaremongering (the end is nigh, we’re doomed, doooomed!), & stop your idiotic defence of the Chinese government who are fully responsible both for allowing wet markets (outbreak) & for covering up so that it spread globally (outbreak) – you sound like you work for the Chinese govt PR dept. You dont do you?

Always appreciate a heterodox opinion Sir, even if it is incorrect.

Health vs Economy is a false dichotomy.

Still one if the best outlines of the problem –

I acknowledge sometimes there are cases where the cure is worse than the disease – your quote and cytokine storms are excellent examples.

But anyone with any real nous has known global disease spread will only continue to grow as an issue, it was just a question of when.
Complex organisms/systems survive in part through the use of multi-scale adaptive decoupling and selective permeability. If society can’t handle that, this is an issue that it’s going to need to get a better handle on.

Still there are some silver linings in all this, so don’t completely despair.

The fundamental stupidity is that if the outcome is merely to flatten the curve then the same number die from the virus plus the economy is wrecked resulting in vastly additional deaths, poverty and misery. So the only defensible objective is to eliminate the virus but if that is achieved, then what? Many of the sick elderly the virus would have killed will die anyway and the draconian restraints at least on international travel will have to remain or be continually reapplied as waves of infections are imported.

The model simulations being used to create mass panic and justify lockdown are based on known unknown parameters which are basically guesses with uncertainties in the range 50-100%. The results touted as “worst case” option are actually the “worst assumptions” case. Moreover the parameters themselves are dependent on human behaviours and conditions that we neither understand nor control. The whole structure may be upended at any moment by changes in medical treatments and knowledge.

Finally we are reduced to a lockdown which rather than control the risk is aimed at controlling us so that nothing that is not officially essential can be done and all those locked down are made as equally miserable and inactive as possible. The lunacy is completed by outlawing outdoor activities that are obviously safe in favour of indoor ones that are obviously far more risky. Utter madness indeed.

    How do manage to be sound on the uncertainty point but get the conclusion exactly backward? More caution, not less.

    Authoritarian overreach is a significant concern, you are completely right there.
    In the case of commercial flight at least there is a strong chance it will eventually be impossible to continue anyway due to the technological progression of drones.

    But we know disease (whether natural or manufactured) will be a problem again. It’s the greatest of the real possible endgame scenarios.

    We stray a fine line between crying wolf and being lucky enough having a minor scare sufficient to reorientate ourselves.

    The economy and public health are not at odds. Don’t start sounding like those ‘the elderly will happily die for the economy’ fools. Life is precious.

    Don’t make someone else sick.

    Plus it’s not just the elderly.

      The economy and public health are intertwined. Kill one and you kill the other. Currently public health failure is killing the economy. The only solution is to fix the public health failure by better treatments and management.

      Yes, the difficulty of course since the start of this has been the asymptomatic and asymptomatic spreaders, so to start with more testing (especially serology testing to get things back on track) will be an enormous boon. Mask wearing like in the Czech Republic going from 0 to 100% in 10 days is another such measure.

      It will interesting to see the kind of health monitoring technologies (wearables for example) that will develop out of this, but will increasingly raise privacy concerns too.

The quicker its eradicated the better. Borders should remained closed where obviously essential.
Once we have no new confirmed cases for 2 weeks… from then a final 4 weeks of lock down will do it.
It’s a shame personal wealth & business health is going to suffer.
The quicker we can open the borders the quicker we can get to our new version of normal.
This is a moment in history that will be reviewed for generations.
No point crying over split milk, but I feel for young movers and shakers that will really feel the burn from this.

One other death this will accelerate is printed newspapers, already visibly struggling. Sales in dairies and supermarkets will have plummeted, likewise at airports and magazine shops. There is no obvious effort by either NZH or Stuff to push home deliveries or electronic PressReader access. The self-inflicted slow death of the NZ newspaper is accelerating.

Long ago should have required all incoming passengers to test clear before boarding and be retested and quarantined on arrival. I can’t see how borders can reopen without that.

Out of all of this disruption and overreaction will for clever thinkers come serious opportunity albiet with a risk profile due to the inmates in charge of the asylum so get thinking and planning before you miss out

Aside from your column, where are we hearing about anything questioning the current Government’s strategies? Aussie covers it well on one station. This plays well into socialist doctrine. It’s scary.

Sweden have gone for the ‘let it rip’ option. Norway and Denmark have controls like NZ. Be interesting…

Great feedback – Interesting threads in Aussie media but very little from the lefties of the NZ media. Just scare monger people to do runs on the supermarket; oh there is no flour, so what happens the half wits all rush off to the supermarket and try and buy flour. One thing that will come of this is that we will learn where the biggest concentration of half wits in NZ live; there will be a correlation.

What arrogant groupthink of the politicians to assume all over 70 year olds like me approve of wrecking the economy just so we might now die by an alternative mode! Back to work I say!
Before obscene government controls really set in.

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