New Zealand as a team of five million can be rightly proud of their performance against Covid-19. Against the odds, with the clock ticking down, we appear to have snatched victory in suppressing a virus. This is no mean feat and a task many of our international peers have found impossible.
But this is not time for a post-match celebration in socially-distanced groups of 100. Good teams learn from their losses. Great teams also learn from their wins. This is not the beginning of the end, but rather the end of the beginning.
• Premium - Editorial: Covid 19 coronavirus inquiry essential - but WHO global agreement was the easy part
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Coalition of 62 nations, including New Zealand, backs virus probe
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Donald Trump backs Australian pandemic inquiry
• Covid 19 coronavirus: China won't retaliate for NZ's call for investigation, Winston Peters says
New Zealand desperately needs to learn what it can from the past few months because pandemics are not over and even this pandemic is still raging.
The handling of Covid-19 in New Zealand must be the subject of a Royal Commission of Inquiry. Commissioners need to be appointed with authority in epidemiology, health and crisis management.
Terms of reference need to be broad enough to provide useful recommendations to this generation and the next. If this has been a one-in-100-year event, its report needs to inform the next century.
As has become clear over the past few weeks, New Zealand was ill-prepared. It was only by good fortune - and a remarkable exercise in brakes-off crisis management for which there was no precedent - that we avoided the fates of Milan, New York or London.
In late March, stockpiles of tests were down to only six days' supply. Our contract-tracing capacity was limited and able to manage only 10 cases simultaneously. A delay of days in ordering our nationwide lockdown, or the mushrooming of just one more virulent cluster, could well have seen the jaws of defeat snap shut.
Our health sector avoided having to deal with a catastrophic outbreak. All indications are that if it had to face this test, it would have lost, and heavily.
Editorial: Level 1 a month away - time for level heads
Editorial: Debt remains a threat to economic recovery
Our flagship pandemic action plan, the blueprint for a decade of infectious disease management, was found - in the nick of time - to be fatally flawed and rewritten in a week. Agility is a worthy attribute, but relying on fast-twitch reactions is not a plan: It is a desperate, last-gasp, line of defence for when plans fail.
The commission should not be a referendum on a government performance whose urgent - and understandably rushed - actions appear to have just held catastrophe at bay. That referendum will take place in September, and this issue is too important to be tainted by party politics.
As our editorial last week outlined, there have been increasing calls by various countries and health and scientific experts for a global investigation.
Australia led the charge on drafting a resolution on the matter, which was co-sponsored by more than 100 nations by the time it was presented to the World Health Organisation's 194 member states at its (virtual) meeting of the World Health Assembly.
The resolution was unanimously passed - although only after threats of a WHO exit and total funding cut by the United States and belated and conditional support from China, which insisted on waiting until the crisis was over before any probe begins.
In the case of the world inquiry, key areas will need to be explored, such as the source of the virus and how it was introduced to humans; the WHO's own response and timeline; global access to personal protection equipment (PPE), and shared information on treatments and vaccines.
Given the politics at play - not just internationally, but within countries' own often partisan states and provinces - the process faces imperious obstacles. The power struggle and point-scoring between China and the US alone has the potential to impede proceedings.
It's been suggested the world inquiry could be modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where hundreds of the world's top scientists review evidence from a non-partisan perspective. This will take some time to assemble and convene. In the meantime, New Zealand should have it's contribution ready.
Any inquiry can and should begin after the election. But it has to be announced soon to give certainty because as we have seen the stakes - in both blood and treasure - are too stark and too high.
This needs to be a chance to reflect to ensure that managing the next event in New Zealand - and, lest we forget, Covid-19 is far from the first or last infectious threat to ravage the globe - is never again left to such chance.