Epidemiologist Michael Baker says that 'we haven't seen how devastating this pandemic is'

The AM Show 12/08/2021

Kiwi's are being warned to prepare for an instant lockdown if the Delta variant makes its way into our community. Epidemiologist Michael Baker says that our current strategy of "go early go hard" approach has worked in the past and he believes it will work again.

"I think in some ways in New Zealand we haven't seen how devastating this pandemic is,"

In the scenario that one Delta case comes Michael Baker says,

"If we saw a single case in an airport worker or even in their family or immediate contacts, and the contact tracing showed that it had been well-contained, we might be able to rely on our contact tracing system, which is working very well. 

"But if we saw cases in the community and we didn't know where they had come from, then we would need a very intense lockdown. That's the problem in NSW - they didn't lock down fast enough. There's a very strong message there. So it isn't automatic lockdown - it is, as always, look at the pattern of cases."

It is likely that New Zealanders will still see some deaths with COVID. Vaccines are still  very effective in preventing illness and death. Baker urges New Zealanders to get vaccinated as soon as they can,

"The survey data shows people are keen to get vaccinated in New Zealand - there's quite a small minority now who say they won't get vaccinated. Unfortunately we have a tiny and very vocal group of anti-vaxxers who just put out rubbish."

"The core message is the elimination approach is our direction for the foreseeable future. It's delivered very good results for New Zealand. The other message is vaccinate… if you have high vaccine coverage, it gives us a lot more protection if we get an outbreak."