Epidemiologist Sir David Skegg says 'we should try and maintain our elimination strategy'

The AM Show 11/08/2021

The government has released the advice that the independent Strategic COVID-19 Public Health Advisory Group put in their report. It recommends that New Zealand should reopen its border in phases.

Epidemiologist, Sir David Skegg has said that once New Zealand re-opens its boarders outbreaks will be unavoidable. He spoke with The AM Show,

"The most fundamental bit of advice is we should try and maintain our elimination strategy and to try and continue to have a different life to most other countries as we reopen the borders,"

"But we are advising that we shouldn't reopen the borders until everyone's had a chance to be vaccinated, which we hope will be done by the end of this year. So we're hoping that we can start a phased reopening early next year."

"I wish it was going to be 100 percent, but we need to be as near as possible as we can to 100 percent. It's clear that even at 90 percent we won't have some magical state of herd immunity where we can stop doing all the other things. It really is important that we all take that opportunity this year." 

"We're assuming that we're going to have to reopen, so if people don't get vaccinated New Zealand will face a different kind of future with a lot more COVID and we'll have hospital admissions and deaths. But obviously we can't remain cocooned off from the rest of the world forever."

Living with COVID like we do with the flu simply isn't an option, Sir David says.

Sir David says that living with COVID-19 like we do with the flu isn't an option,

"The more we learn about the Delta variant, the more we learn about just what a formidable enemy this virus is. It's a very different virus from the Wuhan virus last year, and that's going to make it more difficult for us to control it. 

"One of the reasons we haven't spelt out in exact detail what we think should happen in the course of next year is that we must expect further mutations of the virus. This virus keeps adapting, and obviously we're going to have to modify what we do as we go along." 

"If we were all to get infected by COVID, unfortunately we will have a lot of hospital admissions and deaths and our lifestyle will never be the same again... We've got the opportunity I believe to continue to have a life which is very similar to that before the pandemic - but that's a rare thing on the planet today."