As several readers have pointed out, ACT leader David Seymour is a Vaxhead; there’s nothing wrong with that in general, but not when it comes to the controversial, experimental Pfizer substance for which there is now plenty of evidence it’s neither safe nor effective. The problem is the huge profits involved have seen Big Pharma and Big Tech collude to censor that evidence heavily, despite being produced by people who know what they are talking about and who have had the considerable courage to speak out. Pfizer has also made governments censor or discredit these reports for obvious reasons.

Leaving that issue aside, however, ACT endorse a lot of what we’ve had to say about the Dear Leader government’s ill-considered, erratic, absurd and constantly changing restrictions which have achieved nothing beneficial, instead have caused considerable social and economic damage.

One piece of news that was reported but not properly understood was this: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, out of Seattle, forecasts New Zealand will have between 346 and 426 deaths from Omicron [that figure is highly questionable —Eds].

Now, every death is a tragedy, but these figures must be put in context. Last year the road toll was 320. The Flu kills around 500 New Zealanders each year. Suicide, sadly, takes around 600 per year. Breast cancer, 700, prostate cancer, similar. Heart disease, 5,000.

These are all things that we can and do go to try to save people from, but there is always a limit to what we are prepared to give up. Road safety improvements are turned down even when it’s calculated they could save lives. Cancer drugs are not funded, because they are too expensive. Suicide prevention, such as Mike King’s program Gumboot Friday, get turned down. 

Even Labour understands that it can’t do everything and must choose. But not when it comes to COVID. The Prime Minister has staked so much of her personal brand on reducing COVID deaths that we now live in an Alice in Wonderland world where the stories become more absurd every day.

A couple more interesting things about the modelling. Free Press does not know how good the Institute for Health Metrics Evaluation’s work is, but even the ultra-cautious Michael Baker says it is high quality work that should be taken seriously. 

There’s also the modelling we haven’t seen. Normally at this point in the COVID cycle, such as when it first appeared and when Delta was knocking on the door, the Government wheels out modelling from Sean Hendy.  It tells us we are facing the greatest loss of life since Gallipoli. It never happens, and no country’s actual experience comes close, and he never accepts responsibility. This time he’s silent.

One more figure worth mentioning is excess deaths.  New Zealand currently has negative excess deaths of about 500. Since January 2020, about 500 fewer New Zealanders have died than the average. If the IHME modelling is true, then by the end of 2022, the number of people who died in New Zealand from 2020-2022 would be about what we expected.

All of this leads to the question, why do we have all these restrictions? The IHME modelling tells us a few more things. For one, they are assuming people wear masks, that people keep getting boosted, and that people keep moving around as usual. Those measures are good and well, with a question mark over the type of mask, but what of the others?

There is no longer any justification for keeping the border closed. People have to be ‘vaccinated’ on Air New Zealand international flights anyway, so all travellers are ‘vaccinated.’ The only remaining restriction worth the difference it makes is requiring a negative test before leaving for New Zealand. If those with positive tests can home isolate, those with negative tests pose less threat if they skip MIQ and do so.

There is no justification for restricting event sizes. There is no justification for the climate of fear that the Prime Minister has cultivated since she said ‘tens of thousands may die,’ a statement she’s never rescinded even though no country’s actual experience supports it. Fear itself is now doing more to damage business in New Zealand than anything else.