'Dreadful place' of complacency: Medical expert slams govt COVID-19 response

The AM Show 20/10/2021

WATCH: Prof Des Gorman spoke to The AM Show on Wednesday about the Government's COVID-19 response mentality, stating the Government's COVID-19 response mentality to get New Zealand "world-leading" again, warning it can lead to a "dreadful place" of complacency.

After spending much of the early stages of COVID-19 as one of the top ranking countries in the world regarding response and handling of the virus, NZ has slipped from the top spot much further down the list due to a slow vaccine roll-out.

University of Auckland professor of medicine Des Gorman shared with The AM Show this morning that he has concerns around the governments "best in show"mentality.

"It really worries me when I hear the Government talking about we're going to be world-leading again," he said. 

"This is not an exercise in being first or second, this is an exercise in managing our risk to get us to the best possible situation. I'm not interested in someone's curriculum vitae and being able to claim how wonderfully well we did. 

"I want to see us handle this as expeditiously as possible. I'm really worried about that 'best in show' mentality. It leads you down a dreadful place because you become complacent and you stop learning. I think you start fitting the facts around the narrative."

"We need a timeline because we need some tension in the system otherwise we are just going to drift away for weeks or months," he said. This echoes National Party leader Judith Collins earlier this morning announcing they would set a frim date of December 1st to end lockdowns.

When asked by AM Show host Ryan Bridge if the rise in COVID case numbers are something to expect now the elimination is no longer the governments strategy, Prof Gorman said "This is just the new normal, these numbers are not surprising and they will go up into the low 100s I'm sure of it," he told The AM Show on Wednesday. 

"I mean 90 percent of all Aucklanders have had at least one vaccination. This is not going to go berserk. We are going to have a modest increase in numbers and the health system will cope."

There has been much concern around whether our health system will be able to cope when the virus is much further spread. Des says he isn't so worried.

"Basically if we put more critically ill people in ICU it will displace some people down to high dependency units. It will displace some people to the wards, it will displace some people to home but this happens every winter during the flu season. 

"The system adjusts, the system prioritises. The cost of a large number of cases of unvaccinated people with COVID going to the hospital is some people with heart disease, or cancer will miss out on the care they need . There will be a price to be paid but the health system will cope."

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