As we reported, New Zealand’s national lockdown was extended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern amid concerns over the spread of the Delta variant.
Sir Peter Gluckman, Chairman of the International Network of Governmental Science Advice and former Chief Science Officer of New Zealand, spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today program about the situation in the country.
He says New Zealand’s rapid and strict lockdown pandemic strategy was the ‘right thing to do’ at the time, but now the ‘scenario is changing’ the country faces’ tough choices. future “.
“We used the language in New Zealand to… keep the virus out, eliminate it completely from the community, and Delta brings with it the realization for most people that this is in fact an impossibility. long term, ”he adds.
Gluckman argues that it is now “essential” for New Zealand to increase immunization levels – which he says currently represent around 25% of the population over the age of 12 – as the current epidemic has shown that the virus will emerge, and for the unvaccinated, the costs would be “very high.”
“Obviously, before New Zealand can relax from these very acute total blockages, it will have to see a much higher percentage of the population vaccinated – maybe 80% or 90% at least – and that’s going to be a huge one. both logistical and other challenge. to achieve it in a few weeks or months, ”he adds.
He acknowledges that there has been a “balance of competing issues” between the “sense of security” in New Zealand over the past 18 months, and how long the country can remain a “hermit kingdom.”