Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has opened a can of phylum annelida with his proposal to lift Covid restrictions once his country reaches a 70-80 per cent vaccination rate and treat the Delta variant "like the flu".
The plan has been described as dangerous and reckless by some of the nation's top health and economic researchers, and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has ruled it out here.
"All of the experts continue to tell us the best strategy that we can take at the moment is elimination."
But the issue is interesting to consider. What happens when this "moment" passes and we reach a level of vaccination where elimination is no longer the goal?
The ESR describes suppression as a control strategy that aims to keep the number of cases very low for as long as possible. This approach requires strong measures to reduce the opportunity for the infection to spread, still including forms of quarantine or isolating infected people.
Although there would continue to be infections under a suppression strategy, the aim is to keep numbers low enough to prevent the healthcare system becoming swamped.
Successful suppression relies on infectious people being quickly identified and contacts swiftly isolated to halt more spread.
However, this falls down if cases aren't identified, either because they don't show symptoms (asymptomatic) or symptoms are so mild, people don't get checked. These people may unknowingly pass the infection in what's known as "silent community transmission".
In effect, suppression seeks to delay a major outbreak to give scientists time to find an escape route. Suppression therefore comes with the advantages of more freedoms but with a higher risk of an outbreak bubbling below the surface and ready to erupt at any time.
It also heightens the chances of a vaccine-resistant variant developing during the silent transmission and accelerating into the open.
Australia started with a different strategy to New Zealand; more of an "aggressive suppression" than our elimination. Whether elimination was possible in Australia is now a moot point. They need to play the hand they hold.
Te Pūnataha Matatini research centre at the University of Auckland pointed out in a March 2020 that suppression can only delay an epidemic, not prevent it - but may buy enough time for a vaccine or treatment to become available.
Professor Michael Baker said on Sunday elimination "may have" passed NSW by, and it could now have to consider a suppression strategy.
As he said, this will be much tougher on the population, with ongoing restrictions and more illness and death. Even in the highly vaccinated United Kingdom, August 23 was marked with 30,838 recorded cases, 174 deaths and 858 hospital admissions.
Should Australia choose the course to "emerge from the cave", as Morrison so colourfully put it, and New Zealand remains in elimination mode, it would effectively wipe chances of a transtasman bubble reopening.
As contact tracing and testing continues to ramp up to "ring fence" our Delta outbreak, it does appear New Zealand still has a choice, where Australia may not.