An international row broke out yesterday in Europe, with the European Union crying unfair and accusing Britain of hogging access to coronavirus vaccines at the expense of EU nations.
Boris countered, saying it’s a contractual matter which they expect to be honoured. Plainly Britain had acted quickly ordering the vaccines while of all countries, amazingly Germany has been the most lax and its government is now, unlike our media with our smothered crisis, being hammered in the German media.
This affair is further evidence of the inability of vaccine manufacturers to meet world demand, understandably given its size.
The odd man out in all of this is New Zealand which alone in the world, failed to place orders, notwithstanding seemingly blatant lies our Health Department officials fed the government four months ago.
This is a huge scandal and at long last our media is slowly picking it up.
Yesterday for example, Stuff published a statement from the Royal College of General Practitioners expressing alarm at this state of affairs which I’ve been warning about.
The GPs Head banana Dr Bryan Betty didn’t pull his punches, saying, “We’re at the bottom of the supply chain” and warned of the consequences.
I repeat; don’t blame the Prime Minister nor Health Minister Hipkins for his assurances to the nation back in October that we’re at the head of the queue. He was simply repeating what his officials had told him. The fact is far from being at the head of the queue, like the Congo and war-torn Central African Republic, we weren’t even in it.
What to do?
For starters get the sainted Ashley off our bloody television. As the Department Head his halo is now dangling down about his feet.
Then appoint a Covid Commissioner from outside the Public Service with over-riding authority to try and rescue this situation, although how, God only knows. The appointee should be a proven man or woman of action and not just a corporate figurehead type. In other words someone who actually created a large entity rather than a manager or Board seat-warmer “name”.
One possibility would be an appeal to China for assistance. China’s ability to mass produce anything at all in spectacularly rapid time being well proven. Currently they’re engaged in a global influence war following the fractitious division arising from the Trump era. Unlike Australia we, sitting on the side-lines, are probably in their good books and they may see it as a diplomatic coup to assist. There’s no harm in trying.
Another option would be to ask the Bangladesh government to handle this issue for us.
I say that as yesterday they proudly announced the arrival of the first batch of 30 million vaccines which they’re now underway injecting into their people. So unbelievably even Bangladesh is putting us to shame.
Britain is leading all of Europe in vaccinating and hopes to cover every adult by the end of June. But it also has the world’s worst fatality rate per capita and this week the death rate hit 100,000, mainly geriatrics and fat buggers, the latter a British specialty.
Note this though. Half of those 100,000 deaths have occurred in the last two months.
When the two German scientists announced the first vaccine three months ago the world breathed a sigh of relief. The dreadful 2020 year of the virus was behind us and to add to the celebratory mood, the abomination in the White House was gone.
The whole of Europe is now in lockdown which will have huge economic consequences. We can avoid this only with a great deal of luck. 2020 it now seems was a warm-up and instead, history will mark 2021 as the year of the great plague.
I say above the Health Department officials plainly lied to the Minister months back, telling him we’re at the head of the queue.
But on further reflection, given my past half century’s involvement with politicians and the Public Service I don’t believe that as it’s not the New Zealand way. Should there be an enquiry into this fiasco, here’s a more probable scenario.
It will be recalled that when the first vaccination discovery was announced by the German husband and wife scientists, the excitement was dampened somewhat by the news it needed to be kept in minus 50 degrees temperatures.
Did our officials then actually jump in first with orders as they told the Minister, but cock-up along the way in not establishing suitable refrigeration?
Alternatively, did they (understandably) scrub that order with its freezing difficulty and try and substitute it with one of the manufacturers now knocking vaccines out which don’t have such storage difficulties, only to find with demand far exceeding supply, we were now at the back of the queue.
There will be further such crises in future which is why an enquiry is needed into how this dangerous situation arose.