Saturday, November 27

Covid-19: Experts disagree on the change to the traffic light system

Inhabitants of Aucklanders can expect to get out of the lockdown to the Covid-19 protection framework, also known as the traffic light system, in just three weeks, but a Covid modeler warns that the strategy is risky.

Canterbury University Professor Michael Plank

Canterbury University professor Michael Plank says it is risky to ease restrictions in Auckland as cases continue to rise sharply.
Photo: Supplied.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that there was a “strong expectation by the Cabinet” that the city would go to the red light starting in December, with a decision to be made on November 29.

However, those plans and the decision to further loosen some restrictions in Auckland starting at 11:59 pm tonight are related to Professor Michael Plank of the University of Canterbury.

“I think it’s a risky move to ease restrictions when cases continue to rise quite steeply, doubling every 12 days,” he said. Morning report.

Retail stores may reopen in the city tomorrow, and Plank said the number of cases could rise to 500 a day by early December.

If the current restrictions remained in place, he expected those numbers to peak closer to the 300 mark.

Plank said the government was relying on the fact that retail settings had a relatively low risk of spreading Covid-19 compared to hospitality or large social gatherings, but warned that any easing of restrictions would inevitably lead to more cases.

“I think [the alert setting changes] it will produce an increase in cases, it is difficult to say by how much, but it is likely to be significant. “

He was particularly concerned that 700 of the community cases from the past 14 days had not yet been linked.

However, an Australian epidemiologist believes that now may be the perfect time for Auckland to switch to the traffic light system.

Melbourne University professor Tony Blakely said the large number of people in the city with at least one stroke should encourage health officials to ease restrictions and take advantage of the community’s “maximum immunity”.

Those who had been vaccinated some time ago would likely begin to see their immunity wane in the coming months, he said.

Plank’s views were based on the experiences New South Wales and Victoria had had while negotiating the lifting of restrictions there.

“Auckland is probably at its peak of immunity now and you could go out and play and then as you go up to 90 percent it will keep immunity pretty high, but there will be a lot of other people with waning immunity (in the next few months), who we know it is a real phenomenon. “

Citing two recent large case studies in Melbourne and Sydney, Blakely said that the “vaccinated economy”, where people with double vaccinations could go to bars, restaurants and events, had worked “better than expected” in the Australian context.

He admitted that could change after Christmas, when immunity in both New Zealand and Australia is expected to start to wane.

While he advocated for a quick switch to the traffic light system for Auckland, Blakely said regional borders still made sense for places that currently did not have Covid in the community.

“In New Zealand’s South Island, if you don’t have Covid there right now, you probably want to keep it out until it’s at least 90 percent (fully vaccinated), but it’s a different story for somewhere like Auckland that already has a Covid in him, “he said.

Blakely hoped that the booster doses of the vaccines would help maintain the population’s immunity in the longer term, but admitted that there was still a lot of uncertainty in the fight against Covid-19.

“What we do not know is whether these boosters will give you a more durable immunity in the future; we hope so, but this is all part of the experience that everyone in the world has of learning to live with this virus and work with our way to through him. “

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