COMMENT


Is it a contest? It's a sort of a contest, isn't it? Who is winning this thing?

Iceland has tested more than anyone, as in percentage of their population, and what they found is exciting and yet worrying.

Large numbers who tested positive showed no signs of having the virus at the time of testing.

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Which means most countries, including ours, who don't test unless you seem like you're ill, may never know what we have actually been dealing with.

And more importantly you can argue the lockdown is a waste of time, given we may have huge numbers of people who aren't remotely ill and yet passing the virus on.

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Norway claims they have it under control. Parts of Scandinavia are starting to reopen businesses, the Czech Republic have hardware shops open and you can go swimming, Austria is largely open this week, in Norway the kindergartens are back open this week as well.

Australia on a patients per million scale is outperforming us. Not by much, but a bit. Their advantage though is their economy has remained more active than ours, thus leading to the possibility the economic carnage won't be as great, or as long term.

There is no doubt our numbers look superb. But the overarching question remains at what cost?

Sweden is still a work in progress. The numbers are hardly alarming. They are not as good as ours, but given they've barely locked the place down at all, you can mount a pretty solid argument that their approach may well yet prove to be a winning one.

We have that careful line between stopping a virus, but not killing your economy in the process.

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What's interesting about Norway is they have more than 6000 cases and more than 100 deaths, and they have the same population as us. So who's beating whom?

Our numbers win by a large margin but they claim they've cracked it. We are making no such claim, why not? We must be close to declaring victory.

Borders are closed, clusters are largely contained, the numbers are only heading one way, what's holding them back?

The answer is their almost unique obsession with elimination, but what's elimination?

Zero? And if they ever get to zero, do they know they're at zero given the Iceland work?

Or if they reach zero, open the cafes and it goes back to 100, then what?

My fear is we got obsessed by this, and we make it all about health and nothing else. No one else has got that extreme bar the Chinese, who I think we can all agree made most of their story up anyway.

So we are the global outliers, and trying something no one else has. We're looking, at least, in the health part very successful. But maybe ultimately in focusing too much on one aspect of a much bigger picture, we will end up winning a battle, but losing the war.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website