Research into vaccination rates continuing

Scientists who this week released modelling of how differing vaccination levels could affect Covid-19 case numbers in New Zealand are now working on a more detailed piece of work which could influence border controls and public health settings.

University of Canterbury statistician Prof Michael Plank, part of the Te Punaha Matatini Covid-19 modelling team, said research released on Thursday considered what various vaccination rates could achieve in terms of case numbers and reduction in the use of lockdowns.

The team was now working on follow-up research.

‘‘It is not a detailed road map that says at this level of vaccination coverage you can do X, Y and Z,’’ he said.

‘‘But it does look at what sort of vaccination rate, what restrictions at the border and what public health settings you would need to limit the impact of the virus to an acceptable level.’’

Australia has set out a roadmap setting out what freedoms become available at certain vaccination levels.

Prof Plank said it was inadvisable to tie public health measures too closely to vaccination rates as a virus tended not to pay too much attention to such guidelines.

‘‘If you say you can do this at that level but it turns out that you are in the middle of an uncontained outbreak at that time then you have got some difficult explaining to do, so it pays to be a bit careful.’’

University of Otago Wellington epidemiologist Prof Michael Baker said the Australian approach of setting vaccination targets to unlock certain restrictions had advantages in that country’s stage of the pandemic, but New Zealand was at a very different stage.

‘‘We don’t have widespread transmission thankfully, but if we did we could look at something like what they are doing ... but we are still in a ‘stamp-it-out’ stage, they are in a management or a suppression stage, which is not the same.

Prof Baker has long called for the New Zealand alert level system to be overhauled, but a vaccination incentivisation system such as Australia was trying would not provide that added nuance, he said.

The Upper Hauraki area will join most of New Zealand in Alert Level 2 after no further positive results, deputy prime minister Grant Robertson confirmed yesterday.

Director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay said yesterday all the results of people from Upper Hauraki have come back negative, except for members of the household which has had positive cases.

Mr Robertson then confirmed the area will move from Alert Level 3 to 2 at 11.59pm today.

Nine community cases were reported in Auckland yesterday, down from 15 on Thursday. All of yesterday’s cases have been linked to existing cases.


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