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'Near extinction' of influenza in NZ as numbers drop due to lockdown (rnz.co.nz)
136 points by sxp 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 239 comments





Everyone did a good job. The government did a good job. The people did a good job. A lot of sacrifices in the right places.

And just last night NZ time, we had the results of the elections. Current government won by a landslide. And surprisingly a Greens candidate won in Auckland Central. On mobile - but Chloe is just great for Auckland Central!


Agree! Voted for her but thought one of the two big parties would get Auckland Central. Good surprise!

I agree that they did a good job, but I get tired of seeing others comparing NZ to other countries who didn't do so well--countries whose populations are 500-1000x bigger than NZ.

New Zealand has 5 million inhabitants. That would mean these other countries would need to have billions of people (2.5-5B people). I suspect you just missed a decimal when looking up the number.

Being an island and having a government that doesn't openly reject science certainly helps but they still needed to actually get it done. Which they did. Now they are in the comfortable situation that they can quarantine visitors and sit tight until there is a long term solution. Meanwhile their economy can function pretty normally.


The US population, as an example, is only about 70 times that of New Zealand. This is a large difference, but I have yet to see any reasonable argument as to why this matters beyond "the population is small so it doesn't count".

> I have yet to see any reasonable argument as to why this matters

The major factor that accelerates spread is the frequency/duration of interactions between different people.

So a country such as NZ, that has:

- a much smaller population

- a much less dense/more spread out population

- geographic isolation from the rest of the world

- its population split across two islands

- a small fraction of the international and domestic passenger movements that the US, Europe and Asia have

- a very small number of infection cases in the country when the world suddenly woke up to the scale of the problem in mid-late March

- a centrally managed national health system (and government)

- a cohesive and compliant society

... will have a vastly easier (like, exponentially easier) time controlling the virus.

NZ deserves credit for handling it well before it got out of control and they're deservedly enjoying the benefits now.

But the conditions that made it even possible for NZ to achieve this apply in very few other places.

I can't actually fathom a way the US could have contained the virus the way NZ did, no matter who was in power federally ("just be like China" obviously can't happen).

(FYI I'm an Australian living in Melbourne, which has partially similar conditions to NZ but has spent the past 4 months battling a "second wave" and enduring a brutal lockdown which is just starting to ease now. That was after we'd seemed to have beaten it in May, and the rest of the country has stayed on top of it. So I know what it looks like to win and lose against this virus. Though even then, our case numbers and fatalities are far lower than the US and many European countries.)


China was able to do it with a massive outbreak and the largest number of people. Clearly it has to do with social dynamics and a competent government with a lot of power. Rather than the specific size of the country

Yes, China is an example to the world. If only my government bolted my doors shut, I'd be so happy.

That's obviously disgusting and there's plenty of examples (Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan) who didn't do that. Korea never even fully locked down. Also, I'm extremely unhappy that my government let more than 200,000 people die at least 95% of which were easily avoidable.

Vietnam has 3.4 times smaller population and it did great.

What scales such that the NZ approach would not work for a larger population?

Well, being an island a 'bit far away' certainly helped.

In Portugal I know folks that drove from London, Paris, Utrecht (Netherlands) and even Moscow to avoid the no fly laws so they could vacation here. I personally know 3 families that drove from Moscow to the Portuguese south during the lockdown period. (And I am sure based on the foreign plates I saw, various orders of magnitude more did so as well).

This is not to say it was all the foreigners, but it is much easier to control a pandemic if you can close all the borders (Madagascar anyone?) and have a smaller population. (This is also not to say NZers shouldn't be praised, but just a land border with 2-3 countries would probably see a lot of these efforts go to waste)


That has nothing to do with islands or not. Just lack of political will to enforce.

In Vietnam, when there was a new outbreak in Da Nang, the whole city was isolated from the rest of the country. Flights grounded. Roads closed, with checkpoints. Trains stopped. This lasted for several weeks until it was clear that situation was under control.

Some Canadian provinces had setup measures to prevent unnecessary travel.


There are 5 mains highways that connect Portugal and Spain. Then are around 15 (can't find the details, from memory) that are normal roads where you can also do the crossing. Then you have several smaller roads you can also do the crossing. If you are really really into it, then you can also cross it by walking in several other places.

Having 24/7 border patrol between two land connected countries setup and agreed over 20+ crossing points isn't something easy to do, specially during a pandemic where those agents are also needed elsewhere (and there were border patrols along the mains roads, but not close to all).

Compare to only entering by airplane where you can a) prevent planes from landing by just sending an email (exaggerating) and b) anyone that lands goes through a funnel where you can easily quarantine them.

And you can't compare a city, with 1,285 km2 with a country of 92,212 km2 (and other countries even more) and talk about border controls. Portugal also did the same to a city with some success but still there were flaws in the patrolling.


No one said it would be easy. But for a country to deploy even a few hundred people shouldn’t be a challenge.

If a country can’t close a road, how would it hold up during an attack or war?

This should be a well trained, standard procedure.

Canada is in between mainland US and Alaska. US citizens were allowed to drive thru without diversion. Some didn’t follow the rules and made unnecessary detours. They were fined $600,000 for that. You just need a couple of these cases to make the news to deter people from skirting the laws.

Da Nang also had small road leaks at first. Then those who were diverting via those roads were caught and punished. Roads were closed.


Same in Australia. Travel between states is restricted based on how affected each area is. It didn't start perfectly for border communities, but it was mostly fixed in a couple of weeks.

This also occurred in Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland was shut off from the rest of the country after an still-unexplained outbreak.

Co-operation

Some folks think NZ is paying a price for this but it appears to be a lot cheaper than the price the US is and has been paying, certainly in lives but also economically. Here is the relative performance of the US and NZ in 2020 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the US Commerce Department and Stats New Zealand. We're paying a price both in US lives and worse economic performance for the current US policy.

US 2020 Q1 -5% Q2 -34.3% NZ 2020 Q1 -1.4 Q2 -12.2%

https://www.stats.govt.nz/indicators/gross-domestic-product-... https://www.bea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-07/gdp2q20_adv....


I think may are comparing annualised figures for the US and quarterly figures for NZ. Annual growth in NZ was consistently higher than the quarterly change in the past (which couldn't be the case for annualized figures).

NZ is an island with a population of a small metro area. Comparing the US to NZ makes no sense.

I agree. NZ isn't very well traveled compared to the U.S. or most of western Europe. And NZ's population is like 1/20th of Los Angeles County. It's not surprising that the little island handled the virus so well--it'd be more surprising if they didn't.

>NZ's population is like 1/20th of Los Angeles County.

you are wrong by only one order of magnitude


NZ has more per capita tourists than US.

NZ population: 4.89

NZ tourists: 3.7 (2017 figure)

US population: 328.2

US tourists: 79.26 million international visitors to the U.S. This figure includes visitors from overseas, Mexico and Canada.


What do you mean when you say ‘NZ isn't very well traveled compared to the U.S.’?

I had a look about and according to the things I can find, New Zealanders travel abroad about twice as much as US Americans. And keep in mind that pretty much everywhere a New Zealander can go is more infected than NZ.

We also have a lot less international clout than the US and less money. This matters.

As a country we have less people per square km than the US, perhaps by half. But the US is not vastly more populated the New Zealand when examined as a whole, and USA is nowhere near the top when you order countries by population density.

Our population is about 1/66th (5 million versus 330 million) that of the US, but our death toll is 1/8,900th (25 versus 224,000). I don’t believe the reasons you list explain this. In protecting its citizens New Zealand has done better than the average and the US has done worse.

https://www.traveller.com.au/the-worlds-biggest-travellers--...


Gee, LA county has 100 million people in it ? Who knew ...

The question is also who is paying the price. In the US, certain groups are paying more of the debt than others.

US GDP Q1 -1.25% Q2 -9%

The US reports annualized decreases.


> Lockdown measures had not managed to stop ordinary colds and respiratory illnesses, such as rhinoviruses - which had dropped slightly during lockdown but bounced back soon after. "A lot does come down to their reservoirs and some are so well-adapted for humans and they're so widespread in the population that they are not affected a great deal by the lockdown."

Can anyone explain why colds have not come down as well? I don't understand what they mean by reservoirs.

As a related question, I've read that we all have cold viruses inside of us all the time, and they can be triggered by an immune weakness (such as by being in the cold outside). I've also read that you get a cold only because the virus is transmitted to you from someone else (which is more likely in the cold months when we're huddled together). Which is it? Can you develop a cold from a pre-existing internal virus with zero contact from another person?


I believe reservoirs refer to animals that can also carry the cold or virus but are not affected by government measures

Thank you. Would you like to tell me more about the role of government?

I'm no expert but NZ houses suck. Little to no insulation. Some air can go in gaps between doors and windows, etc. Central heating is non-existant. Old stock. Mouldy. Damp. During winter some landlords tell their tenants to open windows to air the house out. That might be it?

Colds are spread by a virus, not by air conditioning, or the lack of it.

Cramped, damp and cold housing is bad for health and New Zealand has a lot of both these problems.

I would love to see the paper that shows that damp or cold affects infection rate. Cramped, for sure, for proximal infection.

Ambient conditions can make it more likely to manifest symptoms of a cold if you are infected. They will not make the virus appear out of nowhere.

Rheumatic fever is particularly problematic in NZ. There are a host of factors and NZs dealing with is has been bad.

Outside of the quarantine zone, New Zealand hasn't had a new case of Covid in three weeks. Every detected case in NZ in the past three weeks has been from people getting off planes, going into quarantine, and testing positive.

Also, outside the quarantine zone, no one in New Zealand is in the hospital with Covid.


I guess I have a hard time understanding this strategy outside of an expectation of a viable, long-term vaccine. Aren’t you simply just trying to wait it out? It’s not like the virus is going to give up after a few years.

A slowly building immunity among the lowest risk group seems like a better long term strategy, and put the old and at risk people into something like New Zealand.


Do we have any evidence indicating the likelihood of that working?

Well, perhaps this could be the first communicable disease of its kind that doesn't produce immunity in the survivors... Perhaps we should craft our response based on that assumption?

Oh, wait. We are...


How long does immunity last? How robust is it? How will we know what the cost would be, so we can make an informed decision on the tradeoffs? Do we have a robust model of the broad immunity response that can help make sound policy decisions?

(These are all honest questions, I’m not leading. I don’t know where to find this information summarized.)


Last I heard, antibodies have been lasting around 3 months, but T-Cell immunity is indefinite (so far none have stopped reacting to the virus).

Your 'of its kind' phrasing does all the work, and it's not justified. Plenty of viruses don't create useful immunity, from flu to AIDS to the other seasonal coronaviruses, where immunity length is in the order of a few months...

Don't we have evidence of reinfection?

We have anecdotes of reinfection. But on the whole, it is very, very uncommon. This suggests that there is some degree of lasting protection in most people.

There are a couple of such claims.

Planet-wide.


Can you name another communicable disease where "herd immunity through natural propagation" is the recommended treatment?

Even relatively less dangerous viruses, like influenza, have strong vaccination programs, and relatively more dangerous viruses (measles, mumps, smallpox, etc.) are only words I know because of the vaccines I got as a child. I can't think of a disease with a nontrivial mortality rate that we don't aggressively vaccinate and have public health measures to prevent. Can you?


> Can you name another communicable disease where "herd immunity through natural propagation" is the recommended treatment?

This was the standard of care for chickenpox (herpes zoster, aka shingles) until 10 or 20 years ago, for example. Sure, the mortality rate is lower, especially among healthy children.


> until 10 or 20 years ago

You're off by a decade and possibly two. I'm older than 20, I was vaccinated for Chickenpox. The vaccine has been commercially available for 35 years.

So I'd reiterate the question.


I'm less than a decade older than you (younger than 35!) and was intentionally exposed to chickenpox as a child at the advice of my pediatrician in the Seattle area. And I've had shingles in my 20s as well, so I'm certainly pro-vaccine.

There may have been a vaccine 35 years ago (I'll take your word for it), but it was not the standard of care even ~25 years ago.

(And to be clear, I'm not advocating for exposing people to COVID, at all. You asked a very broad question upthread with an easy counter-example — chickenpox — and I provided the counterexample.)


That’s complicated though. Getting it as an adult is REALLY nasty, hence the previous history to try and get it done as a kid. Now we immunise instead...

The govt offers chickenpox vaccines here in NZ for kids now. I think it has been a fairly recent addition to the vaccination schedule but it was definitely there 3 years ago when sprog number one arrived.

Sure, it’s been standard of care in the US for a while as well. I’m glad! That change happened sometime after my childhood.

~20 years ago, naturally getting it was the go-to in our area. The idea was "let's just get it over with", because the vaccine isn't 100% effective.

Well, back in the day if one kid got chicken pox other parents would bring their own children around so they could get the infection done and dusted. The younger the child the better.

It’s the default treatment.

Destroying civilization in the off chance that it might help is the approach that’s worrisome.


Can I get clarification on your second sentence? Are you saying that approaches like New Zealand's are destroying civilization?

A few weeks of lockdown destroyed civilisation? With the exception of international travel, life is more or less as per normal in NZ right now. What are you even talking about.

Months of lockdown have destroyed somewhere between a quarter and half of all small businesses in Canada.

The resultant unwinding of commercial real-estate debt hasn’t even begun. The deflationary spike and follow-on “riding the dragon” of inflationary response by central banks hasn’t even begun.

When we finish consuming our personal reserves, and begin in earnest to try to supply food and lodging to the, what, 50% of the population not “employed” by government, what do you guess is going to happen.

It will be illuminating, at least, to those who think they understand how civilization works...


How would antibody therapeutics be a thing if it didn’t produce a certain immunity in the survivors?

The problem is, the vast majority of Americans are at high risk because of being overweight or obese. We can't send them all away.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/10/health/coronavirus-obesit...


We're close behind the US in that regard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_New_Zealand

Not sure why you are getting downvoted so hard (perhaps due to your 2nd paragraph).

I very much want to read discussion on your first paragraph.


Why would the strategy be difficult to understand when the results so obviously speak for themselves?

Sure, NZ's approach cannot be replicated everywhere else, but the fact is they have this under control and their people can (now) go about their lives.


I think the approach and results have been great. But I'm not clear on what the long term plan will be. Will NZ keep its policies this way indefinitely? Same question for China and other areas that have it under control.

Assuming a vaccine doesn't come, why shouldn't NZ keep their policy up indefinitely? Testing and quarantining visitors doesn't seem that onerous to me. Certainly beats just letting it run wild in the population.

You wait till there's a good vaccine, then get everyone vaccinated and reopen.

At what point do you throw in the towel if a viable vaccine doesn’t come along?

New Zealander here: Why would we need to give up? We can come and go from New Zealand (with an isolation period) and life is normal once you are inside. Non-residents can’t come without some big hurdles though.

"229,566 people were directly employed in tourism (8.4 percent of the total number of people employed in New Zealand)"

That's a lot of people who need rejobbed


You suggest this mode for forever?

If that’s needed. Keep in mind that until relatively recently it took a lot longer to get to New Zealand as it was common to come here by ship. My parents and grandparents got here that way and it worked ok.

What is the “mode” you are talking about?

Seems like life is back to normal and the lockdown is over in NZ


Exactly the mode described in the post I was answering to. I could cite the whole comment, but I don't see a point.

This seems like a long bet. What if we never find a proper vaccine?

Exactly! What happens then?

We carry on as normal, like we are. We have to quarantine for 2 weeks when coming into the country, that is the price. Are you under the impression that something more onerous is happening?

I guess the question is... for how long?

For two weeks!

This is normal for your country which is self-sustainable, other countries cannot follow the same strategy for multiple reasons. I wish we were NZ, but we aren't. We rely on tourism, our whole economy has been build around that, closed borders and 14 days isolation will bury everything. Anyone can suggest a lockdown, but some countries cannot work that way and have to find a compromise, not bet on a vaccine somewhere in the near future (when?).

Maybe you could cater to NZ tourists or if covid safety can’t be guaranteed then go for herd immunity

Either way as a country that depends on tourism you can’t be infecting tourists


The biggest industry in New Zealand was tourism. We rely heavily on open borders until this year.

It seems very unlikely that there can be vaccine that is effective long term. Just as there is no long term Flu vaccine.

We have many vaccines that aren't long-term effective, and we have strategies for those.

It's a great strategy! The internal economy is open because people aren't afraid to be out and about, shopping and going to sporting events, etc. Even in US states with absolutely no restrictions on indoor dining etc. there was a huge drop in activity from, well, people having normal self-preservation instincts.

A strong vaccine candidate within the next 6 months is a strong likelihood, along with antibody-based therapeutics. So the plan is to hold out, keep the internal domestic economy moving forward - the tourism hit was going to happen anyway, so might as well have everything else as operational as possible.

Herd immunity is not a strategy, it's just what used to happen before we understood that we could actually reduce the impact of disease on our lives.


I agree with the first part of your statement, but we really don’t know what vaccination will look like or when it will be here.

NZ may be isolated for a long time. But given the alternatives, that’s the approach I’d take too.


> A strong vaccine candidate within the next 6 months is a strong likelihood

There's zero evidence to support this assertion. First there's zero evidence that it's "strong", whatever that means. Second there's zero evidence that we'll have it in the next 6 months. Remember, it also has to be safe, not just "strong". Ensuring that takes a lot of time.


The Netherlands (where I'm from) aimed for herd immunity in the beginning of the pandemic. So no strict measures just enough to make sure our health care isn't overrun. This was perfectly fine in the first few months, now they are still doing the same measurements (no real lockdown or any strict measures) while our health care is being overrun because of a 2nd wave. This time herd immunity is nowhere to be found.

I can only imagine that NZ is indeed sitting this out till a vaccine is available, because if countries that had herd immunity as a goal in the first place to not have that goal anymore, it probably means it isn't feasible.

That being said, I don't see how _any_ country is able to do anything other than sit this out. Everyone in the US, NL, even DE (which is doing okay in Europe) or NZ and TH (with no local infections) cannot do anything else than to wait for a vaccine to be available or before we just accept this as a reasonable risk.

Personally I think accepting the risk is the most likely situation. I do not have much confidence in a good vaccine being available in 2021, personally I'll get back on the plane in 2021 and just accept the risk. I als know that this is something a lot of people will not accept, but we cannot lock up the world economy for a few years for a virus where the fatality rate for healthy people is so low.


> personally I'll get back on the plane in 2021 and just make everyone else accept the risk.

FTFY


Yeah typically when you fly on a plane the rest of the passengers were forced onto the plane by proud boys.

You have to get off the plane at some point, and then you're around people who did not get on the plane

Why do you say that now in 2nd wave health care is being overrun? Amount of cases is much higher, but amount of deaths and hospitalizations is much lower.

Number of deaths and hospitalizations is much lower because they arranged for the elderly and weak to die first, same way Cuomo send confirmed Covid cases back to nursing homes https://eu.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/alba...

> That being said, I don't see how _any_ country is able to do anything other than sit this out. Everyone in the US, NL, even DE (which is doing okay in Europe) or NZ and TH (with no local infections) cannot do anything else than to wait for a vaccine to be available or before we just accept this as a reasonable risk.

Tactical lockdowns with a strategic approach of maintaining rapidly escalating procedures on a hair trigger is the approach NZ's been taking, and thus far, it's afforded them a much better quality of life compared to the rest of the world.

It's whack-a-mole, but shit, it's cheaper and more effective than whatever it is we're doing in the US.


I spent several months in the Netherlands during the pandemic. It was great. Walking around without a mask is underrated now I suppose.

Why do it slowly? If you're planning to infect everyone anyway might as well get it over with quick.

Unless of course you're worried about the side effect of making a large number of people seriously ill, but if you don't see a way of doing it without causing a ridiculous number of people to fall ill then perhaps it isn't the best choice?


Wasn’t this what all of the “flatten the curve” messaging was about in March? Yes. The reason to slow things down is to avoid overwhelming the health care system.

Okay I may have phrased it a bit too bluntly.

But if you're talking about infecting a large part of the population deliberately then it seems to me you should try to do it as quickly as possible because isolating the vulnerable part of society from the rest is not a sustainable situation.

And well, if we're talking about infecting a large part of society anyway then health and human lives are apparently already expendable to some extent.


I guess if herd immunity is your best option you want to do it as quickly as you can without overwhelming things.

Which is why the “Lock down hard to flatten the curve” thing never really made sense to me. If you prevent all transmission you’ll just drag out the pain. I thought cases are just going to shoot back up when you open so what’s the point?

(Turns out I was wrong though. Delaying cases was very valuable. People getting sick now are much more likely to survive.)


One reason to drag it out is so that you don't overwhelm the healthcare system.

A lot to learn from NZ. A similar success story is the Atlantic provinces of Canada (everything east of Quebec), which have done exceptionally well.

Decisive action taken early to avoid excessive sacrifices later. And a population that was on board with that decisive action. Many lessons in leadership to learn here.

Here in central Canada I just keep watching the government and populace respond to things two to three weeks late, and half-assedly. Schools were shut down decisively in early March but it took almost two weeks after that to close obvious things like _shopping malls_ and _gyms_. No mask mandates in most cities until August. And apparently we learned nothing from the spring because the second wave is leading to the same inept and slow inaction. 70+ cases alone linked to one gym (a spin studio) near me but that region is still allowed to have gyms (with maskless participants!!) open.


It is a little disappointing to see this post get so quickly flagged off of the front page when there is another COVID-19 post that better fits preconceived notions still there that is seven times as old and has one third of the votes.

It makes having a well balanced discussion of the news difficult when articles that offend some political sensibilities have such a high barrier to entry in terms of how much they get flagged that they have no chance to survive in the first 50 posts (COVID related or otherwise).


This is not unique to NZ.

> 98%.

> What if I told you that confirmed flu surveillance across the world has dropped year over year by 98% since April?

> This is the deep dive story with data, graphs and charts showing how the world's most consistent nemesis has (almost) completely vanished.

https://twitter.com/kylamb8/status/1317186379483406337?s=21


Just now it was announced that there is a new border case of covid that is awfully close to being a community case. Hopefully it is contained.

Edit: it is classified as community.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/428619/watch-live-ashley...


Note, though: circulating cold & flu viruses serve to "boost" prior immunity via new mild/asymptomatic cases each year. Without these, immunities are decaying.

So it's possible that when more normal interchange with the rest of the world resumes, NZ (and others) will have some "very bad" traditional cold/flu seasons. (It may feel like Covid, but not be.)


> Note, though: circulating cold & flu viruses serve to "boost" prior immunity via new mild/asymptomatic cases each year. Without these, immunities are decaying.

No, not really. I understand where you're comming from but this is a myth, that even some generalists doctor contribute to.

Yes the immune system can "register" a new pathogen and how to produce antibodies for them, but honestly we have vaccine for (almost) every sickness that can put a non-immunodepressed down if the immune response is too late, and adequate serums and care when a vaccine isn't available.

But your immune system do not "decay" if not stimulated. At all, and it might even be the opposite (the effect is within the error margin of the studies for now).


Immunity absolutely decays in many cases unless refreshed. For example, many vaccines require later booster shots.

See also the strong evidence around a "boosting" effect from circulating chickenpox cases. Namely, that the availability of the chickenpox vaccine, by reducing the amount of environmentally-circulating chickenpox virus, is now preventing natural reinforcement of adults' immunity via asymptomatic encounters, and thus leading to more (painful, symptomatic) cases of shingles, especially among people in their 30s/40s:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/08/150811103555.h...

https://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/news/2020/adult-exposure-...

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/...


Lots wrong here:

> we have vaccine for (almost) every sickness that can put a non-immunodepressed down if the immune response is too late

The 40-60% effectiveness of annual flu shots would beg to differ. And more often it is your immune response being wildly overreactive and attacking healthy cells that causes problems, not a “late response”

> But your immune system do not "decay" if not stimulated.

Sure it does, for one that’s the whole point of booster shots; your immune response to certain pathogens can decay over time (wether acquired from vaccine or naturally).

Additionally the “Hygiene Hypothesis” suggests our world being so clean, and our immune systems not being challenged, has led to a large spike in allergies (like peanuts) as the body searches for anything to attack.

https://www.vox.com/2014/11/6/7163713/peanut-allergy-symptom...


same goes for taiwan. its not news that relatively small islands with restrictive and defensive covid policies got this right.

Being an island is a huge advantage for sure.

But China is also kicking ass. Everyone in a city gets tested if there are even a few cases. Thailand also seems to be doing ok. Italy also has it under control for now.

There are clearly strategies that would work for non-islands.


Italy doesn't, they're currently experiencing a major spike like much of Europa.

I'm kind of surprised that being an island would help, actually. Is international travel into prosperous islands really less than into equally prosperous contintental countries? Most long-distance travel is by air anyway.

Very few people pass through NZ, it’s not like london or singapore or whatever.

NZ doesn’t rely on cross border lorry drivers either, and is far enough away that any boats are quarantined


Trucking goods over land will spread a lot more covid than shipping over sea (with seamen no longer allowed to leave ship). That is the big factor I reckon.

So islands will ship everything already, whereas most land-countries move a lot of goods with trucking, and spread the disease that way, even when land-borders are closed.

International travel can be closed off with little repercussion.


> Most long-distance travel is by air anyway.

You can't land just anywhere on an island, but you can take lots of roads into large countries on a continent. Islands have much more control over arrivals than landlocked countries with lots of neighbors and very integrated road & train networks.


New Zealand total passengers (all airports) per year is less than just JFK per year (59M JFK vs 43M all of NZ give or take)

> small islands with restrictive and defensive covid policies got this right.

Contrast NZ with the UK. That train wreck has hit an island that should have done better.


uk covid policies were anything but defensive (“herd immunity”, “save the economy”)

What I'm curious about is other illnesses which would also die out due to the lock downs. Surely sexually transmitted infections have fallen off a cliff?

How about we build a village somewhere in NZ or elsewhere with very strict rules for every new person who arrives. Like bringing a negative test and self isolating for 14 days.

Then slowly grow this village this way and celebrate life without masks and social distancing.

Of course, there would be a Covid outbreak at some point in time. Would that be the end of paradise or might there be a way to get back to zero infections? 14 days of full isolation of a whole village seems like something that might be possible.

What do the digital nomads among you think about this?


NZ is already reopened (internally, not to foreign travel) without masks or social distancing. They also reopened travel with most states of Australia.

The population got on board with the lockdown so it was short and effective. The US efforts in that regard are ineffectual so the half-assed lockdown and mask wearing will need to continue indefinitely until there is a vaccine, which is the only hope left.


> it was short and effective

This raises some questions about the flu though, right? The COVID lockdown effect mostly stopped the virus getting a toehold in the country. Does this imply that the flu is mostly imported too?

Maybe the short, sharp lockdown did stop the flu, but it feels more plausible to me that the ongoing severe border controls are what's keeping it down while the country more or less goes about life as normal.


The border controls and quarantine stopped importation to the community, the lockdown on gatherings stopped transmission within the community.

Both measures together likely stopped the flu just as they stopped the coronavirus. Keep in mind that both the flu and Covid are transmitted in the same way, respiratorily, but the flu is much less contagious, so eliminating transmission of the coronavirus is almost certainly also going to eliminate transmission of the flu.

Australia saw a similar effect, the flu season in NSW was one tenth of what it normally is.


Right, but NZ has had a pretty light lockdown compared to other countries. To use the language of other posts, if the "reservoirs" of influenza were uniformly distributed, we'd expect NZ to have more flu than the United States or Europe where (time-integrated) lockdowns have been stricter.

Look at the pre-election videos covering campaigning in New Zealand -- crowds of maskless people, politicians hugging supporters etc. Stadiums full of rugby supporters. Not a COVID transmission risk, but wrt the flu it's obviously no different from a regular season -- except for the borders.

In San Francisco people are distancing a lot more. It's understandable why we have more COVID cases, but when winter rolls around it'll be very interesting to see if the same difference in flu cases is seen. A non-uniform distribution of reservoirs might be something we can conclude with borders closed.


This village already exists. It's called all of New Zealand and has around 5 million people living in it.

NZ already goes without masks because they realized that a short but complete lockdown would result in much less death, and because of the ability to reopen completely, less long term economic harm.

To celebrate, there should probably be some sort of dance or ball. It's coming up on Halloween; it could be a masquerade[1]! What could go wrong?

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Masque_of_the_Red_Death


Having to hole up for 2 weeks after you go anywhere outside the village is a high cost. Unless all your friends and family move into this village, the gains are pretty low...

The gains seem pretty good from here on the inside. Overseas travel is possible, but no thank you. Domestic travel is up among many people I know and there are nice places to go.

Right but all your friends and family likely live in the village. That's my point.

Reframe it to literally moving to a village of 1,000 people that are all random folks. You wouldn't move to that village unless you were a loner.


There was also a major push, more than usual, to get people to get the flu vaccination. People who didn't normally get it got it this year.

Edit: I am not sure why I am being downvoted. I am a kiwi, flu vaccinations were very strongly encouraged this year.


This - and the government bought more doses than usual. It was a well run flu season.

Allow me to be the one who posts an obligatory xkcd reference:

https://xkcd.com/2306/


Could it be like sparrows in China? Killing the common cold could have unknown consequences.

Having no germs in childhood increases the risk for allergies. Maybe something similar happens with the cold?


[flagged]


That wasn't reasonable discussion. It was snark and flamebait, which broke several of the site guidelines, so the users who flagged it were correct.

Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html? We'd appreciate it. Note this one:

"Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."

Edit: you've unfortunately been posting in the flamewar style a lot. We're trying for something different than that here, which gets destroyed when people go into flame mode, so if you could please take the guidelines and the intended spirit of the site more to heart, we'd be grateful.


I'm sorry you feel that way but I disagree. Note when I made the comment there were very few other comments. I've been posting to this forum for 13 years. If humour and wit are not considered appropriate then I will attempt to refrain from their application to succinctly convey an idea.

Take a look at every other flagged comment in the same thread from other users and note what they have in common. It isn't conversation style.


People overestimate their own humour and wit, and underestimate the provocations they supply to others. I don't mean to pick on you personally—we all do this. But it's certainly a thing.

I'm well aware that you've been posting here for 13 years. I think that's great. Unfortunately your recent comments (say, this year at least) have been full of swipes at other users—not all of them (fortunately!), but enough that you've been doing it routinely. That's just not cool. Would you please edit those out when you post? I certainly don't want to ban you but we ban others for that kind of thing and at some point we have to apply the rules fairly.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


As someone not in NZ, I gotta say, the half-destruction of my way of life for the foreseeable future seems way worse than total destruction for a short period.

Total destruction? What are you referring to?

Parent post referred to total destruction, and while I don't actually see "destruction" as the right frame for covid restrictions I was taking their premise and running with it - so if NZ had a period of total destruction, we've got ongoing partial destruction in north america.

It has a chance to work for islands, but not anywhere else except maybe North Korea.

During the last few months it has been about how to manage, while waiting for the vaccine. That plan seems to require the half-destruction of many people’s lives unfortunately.


No. The virus doesn’t travel over land, it travels via human hosts.

Any country could eliminate it, island or not, by closing its borders to international passenger travel.


And then some countries will die because they are majorly dependent to international travel and tourism. Not every country in the world is self-sustainable. Closed borders are an easy strategy, but cannot be applied everywhere in the world. Take a look in EU which is built under the open-borders strategy, take a look at any country which economies depend heavily on tourism, and so on.

I wish every country was like NZ where we could apply such measures, but we aren't. In example, my country Greece with closed border would face a more extreme economic crisis than 10 years ago.


Tourism is (was?) our second largest export earner. We've just had to choose which economic hit we take.

International trade does not require free and open international passenger travel.

I am not talking about trade, but passenger travel. Greece relies heavily on tourism. Closed borders or even 14 days of isolations will kill the tourism industry, all related economic sectors and the whole country will be buried in unemployment. What's a viable strategy for such countries?

You have described New Zealand’s problem. Tourism was the biggest industry, it hurt and it’s going keep hurting for a long time.

While in theory true, in practice borders are not 100% effective. Locking the doors encourages people to climb through the windows, even islands can be entered by boat.

Opening the borders with a strict two week quarantine enforcement seems like the only sane way to proceed (as NZ has done)


It worked in Czech Republic, hell we even opened our borders up back in June and the measures that were in place kept things broadly manageable (note: we're not even an island, we're smack bang in the middle of Central Europe). What sank us was that the government capitulated, patted themselves on the back for a job well done and removed the requirement for masks on public transport, in shops, in offices etc. In the last week they've since had to clamp down severely and it's going to tank the economy where I live. I'm not going to pretend it was rosy under the restrictions, many businesses were hurting but weren't completely crippled, but many had found a way to survive. And we've since gone from being the envy of continental Europe to having some of the highest per-capita new cases per day in the world.

I'm not sure what else you can do other than try to keep things under control while a potential vaccine or at least treatment is developed. Give up and just let it spread through the population, whoever lives wins?


Had the vaccine been available in august or September this year, then the Czech strategy would be best. But vaccines are not made that fast, it looks like 18 months is realistic and locking down countries that long is just not feasible.

And the current half-life is not a good solution.


I think you may be misunderstanding what I am saying. We had:

1. a hard initial lockdown lasting a few weeks, while the virus was exploding throughout Europe. masks everywhere. basically everything closed. borders closed.

2. a subsequent easing of many rules - masks almost everywhere; public transport, shops, offices, and restaurants/bars. international travel possible with quarantine from selected countries.

3. an almost total relaxation of all of the rules

I think the "Czech strategy" you're referring to is #1. I am saying that #2 was an acceptable compromise that caused some grumbles but kept a lid on things while permitting a relatively normal life for most people. #3 is IMO completely responsible for the current state of affairs. If 18 months is a realistic estimate for a vaccine then I genuinely think we could have managed with strategy #2 for that period. If a vaccine is not forthcoming then ... fine we would have given it a shot and without completely tanking our economy by becoming a little hermit republic, and without overwhelming our healthcare system in the meantime.

I mean you can't have your cake and eat it, I know that. But I really believe the balance we struck was sustainable.

edit: btw I hope this doesn't seem like I'm angry at you or anyone here in this thread. This is just a discussion and an interesting one. My tone is just probably influenced by my current cranky mood which is caused by other things unrelated to HN, and re-reading my words I can't tell how it's coming across :-)


Yes, i meant #1 as the Czech strategy. And you did not come across as especially angry.

I get that the current Czech situation seems like wasted effort, but it seems as if even #2 is unrealistic if it will last for more than a few months.


[flagged]


Is fear bad a priori? I don’t think so, this is an unprecedentedly dangerous virus, I think if you’re not at least a little scared then you’re delusional.

Dismissing action as motivated by fear is ridiculous, we should be scared of dangerous things and let that fear motivate us to take rational action.


um, I'd argue respectfully that "unprecedentedly dangerous" is the phrase approaching the delusional.

when this whole thing started, I did what any self respecting analyst would do: try to calculate the numbers and calculate the likely outcomes and risks (primarily to my own family).

And I kept arriving at the conclusion: it's statistically bad in the sense of spread and infectiousness, but as a virus and comparative lethality it's not THAT bad. The main danger was from responses/strongly compressed infection timing, and assuming you didn't overreact and your health system held out, if your family were in their 50s or younger and healthy, existentially it wasn't much worse than the flu (and for the youngest, possibly even less dangerous).

but what I was scared of was the human response.

Because it targets the old and infirm, and because they largely control most wealth and power, and because we largely don't have mature ways of dealing with mortality in common cultural discourse, and because a lot of our countries have become increasingly partisan, I figured the response would probably be bad/chaotic/ and have lots of badly targeted over-reactions, unintended consequences, and probably a lot of name calling, fear mongering and virtue signalling. our media has just gone crazy.

6 months later (and in the lockdown in Melbourne), I stand by most of my initial judgements. One problem locally (and maybe NZ shares this problem, I dunno), it's that the trump/Johnson swing to the right/populism left the opposition (we have Labor in power locally too, so the opposition is conservative) being relatively flirting with anti-science and anti-int tellectualism as well as general juvenile behaviour and responses, so even though one might not fully support local actions (I don't fully support the lockdown extents in both Melbourne or NZ long term), there isn't really a viable political alternative presented either.


I regret saying "unprecedentedly dangerous" because it puts the focus on comparing this with past pandemics, which is irrelevant to my point, and I'm not really interested in having that conversation.

Oh come now, we can exercise and advocate for caution and good sense without pretending that this virus is more dangerous than polio or measles or the 1918 flu or any of the markedly more severe viruses.

Why should I care? How should the accuracy of qualitative comparisons of this with past pandemics affect our decision making? If this isn’t as bad as the Spanish flu, how should that change our response to the current pandemic?

No need to deflect; you we’re simply incorrect. It happens. Own up and move on.

I presented an argument that your point is irrelevant to the discussion, and you provided no meaningful counter-argument in response.

You do realize that anyone who reads your comment can also read the rest of the thread and see for themselves that you’re incorrect, right? What advantage can there be in doubling down? In whatever case, I corrected your error and you don’t dispute it, so I think this thread has served its purpose. I’ll be ducking out now.

They can go out to a bar or movie theater right now. All movie theater chains in the US are about to close for good, and 1/7th of small businesses in the US are now closed for good.

They can, but with no major film releases cinemas don’t have an easy ride

Socially distanced, theaters lose money if they open. They aren’t open and therefore no films because the studios do t want to take more of a write down, since they’re already trimming 20% of their muscle (fat is long gone)

I’m not sure why some people conflate pandemic devastation with freedom.

And a very big island just next door, not quite as authoritative but doing almost as well in the pandemic, Australia, has just opened its doors to New Zealanders. I think we are doing quite well down under thanks to good government and a community that seems to think other lives are as important as our own.

Sometimes it’s quite healthy to be scared, it prompts a response.

Who has been innovative? Because the results speak for themselves here.

Short term results only. We don't know yet about long term results (for the economy, for global poverty, for people mental healths, for extra deaths of cancer, for obesity people getting spending time at home, and so on).

NZ has has 1/8900 of the US death toll. We have 1/66th the US population.

It’s hard to argue that our response is going to cause more deaths than the US response. It almost feels like cheating to compare NZ to USA where covid is concerned.


Short term results of hundreds of thousands dead... I'm not sure excess cancer deaths would ever eclipse that.

For extra deaths of cancer?

Yes, coronavirus safety driven restrictions sometimes lead to hospitals lesser ability to handle common diseases like cancer.

This is the story from the UK, something like this might happen everywhere: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8848991/Dead-31-che...


UK didn’t deal well with covid

NZ hospitals have been fine.


> NZ hospitals have been fine.

So every organisation from kindergartens to factories was affected by coronavirus, but hospitals were not affected at all? I don't believe so.


and yet less people died. And those who lived are enjoying a higher quality of life.

Also, you need citations for everything in the first sentence.


It's unfortunate, that comments like one above gets downvoting into abyss completely damaging the author karma.

This is a perfectly valid and reasonable comment.

The whole upvoting/downvoting system in HN sometimes works just for silencing the minority opinions which is quite dangerous.


I created a stylesheet to remove the censorship for the viewer. https://userstyles.org/styles/190934/hacker-news-top-comment...

This isn't about freedom, it's about responsibility and competence. Pandemics are our new normal. We've been anticipating pandemics for decades, in movies, books, etc, and here they finally are. They are both predictable and predicted.

There's a competent, pro way of handling pandemics, and incompetent, amateur way of handling them.

The pro way is brief but comprehensive shutdowns + distancing + masks + sanitizing + testing & tracing + travel restrictions. It only takes 4-8 weeks of that to shut down a pandemic, then everyone can get back to being their normal, self-centered, freedom-loving selves.

The amateur way is to scream about it like a child, refuse to take measures to help stop the outbreak, and be so brainwashed that you're unable to distinguish a conspiracy for a real emergency. Which is of course what Trump and half the US has done.

Sometimes a pandemic is just a pandemic, not a conspiracy of the global elites.


I honestly dont understand their strategy. These "wins" are only sustainable if they never open their borders. And once they do, covid and influenza will come back. Only option I can see is to maintain isolation until a vaccine is available but that could be a long way away.

A domestic economy undisrupted by COVID appears to be a larger upside than unrestricted international travel.

That should be pretty clear, given that the choices are between 1) no tourism economy or domestic economy and 2) no tourism economy.

Actually, reality has fine print....

Instead of overseas visitors spending in NZ and rich NZ'ers spending their tourist dollars overseas .... the richer NZ'ers are spending locally.

Turns out not as different as the doomsayers predicted.


I’m surprised I haven’t seen it phrased this way before, it’s very accurate.

The long version could add in the damage to things like cafes, restaurants etc with Covid. Dark times.


They can also wait until there's cheap and effective treatments.

By not having an epidemic, they continue to have the initiative to choose next steps, rather than having to react to the virus


It's a numbers game. Hide out for a year or two. Protect vulnerable members of society and preserve a mostly normal way of life, except for tourism industry (which is largely dead regardless of what we choose to do in NZ).

If there's a vaccine in 2021 it will turn out to have been a good bet.


Vaccines are imminent.

And, they could progressively open their borders to those presenting with negligible carrier risk. Sufficiently voluminous & cheap testing can keep traveller risk very low, as well as the growing number of travellers who are recovered-immune & vaccinated.


Why is he being down voted?

And why do so many people have almost near certain confidence that there will be a vaccine?

We have never made a successful beta corona virus vaccine, some doctors think it impossible because of the the nature of respiratory viruses.


[flagged]


You're right. If Trump tried to only apply a two week quarantine to people coming from Mexico people would be against it. If he'd done a quarantine for all people entering the US back when there were only a handful of cases we'd be in a much better place right now. I suspect that would have been viewed as an overreaction by many people but based on what we've learned since then I think people would've come around.

[flagged]


If you literally have not seen any criticism of Trump’s policies then you are not looking at, well, any remotely relevant media whatsoever.

> I honestly dont understand their strategy.

But you do. See you got it here:

> Only option I can see is to maintain isolation until a vaccine is available

What puzzles me is why you don't see this as the only good strategy for any country that has the capacity to attempt it. It's the strategy that saves most lives.

There are currently 10 countries in the Pacific, including NZ, that have no COVID cases. They could form a bubble and allow travel between them.

Yesterday kiwis were allowed to fly to Australia and enter the general population without quarantine.


Because waiting for a new invention as part of policy is idiotic. Science does not work a on schedule. A vaccine is not 12 months away, it can be invented tomorrow, or it can never be invented because it never becomes more than 5% effective.

And so they'll be holed up a while. So? The vast majority of humans never leave their countries their entire lives.

If the time comes that they're willing to let their elders die so the wealthiest among them can travel or fOr tHE eCoNOmY, they can always open up their borders.

What they have is a choice. They had their elections last night and governing party was re-elected by a landslide, which means the people are happy with their current strategy.

> waiting for a new invention as part of policy is idiotic.

Saving lives and buying time is not idiotic.


>The vast majority of humans never leave their countries their entire lives.

The majority of people in New Zealand are 0th of 1st generation immigrants. The majority leave the country at least once a year and have multiple citizenships.

>Saving lives and buying time is not idiotic.

Yes, Queen Victoria buying time for the invention of penicillin is idiotic.


You're making some interesting claims there. Got any sources?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_New_Zealand#Rec...

The 2018 census in particular has 28% of current NZ citizens of being 0th generation citizens. They have something like 30% for people with one 0th generation parent: https://www.stats.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/2018-Census-totals-...

So it's closer to 60% of citizen being attached to another country.


NZ can wait. If it really turns out that there is no vaccine they can still try different strategies. Until then, this is the best possible option a country could pick.

> Yesterday kiwis were allowed to fly to Australia and enter the general population without quarantine.

The Australian general population? That's fine, it's getting back in to NZ that's the issue.

There will come a point where lives will be sacrificed in order to get economies going again. It's harsh, but true.

Has NZ's economy escaped unscathed? I'd imaging that tourism is quite a large part of their GDP; but if I as a tourist have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival there's really not much point in visiting NZ at all.

Once the rest of the world starts operating again, vaccine or not, NZ will have to follow and relax their isolation. They're hoping that by the time that comes there'll be a vaccine or better treatments. But there's no guarantee of that. The rest of the world will be in the position where those who would have died from Covid have already probably died, but NZ won't.


> The rest of the world will be in the position where those who would have died from Covid have already probably died, but NZ won't.

People who've survived COVID can get it again and die the second time:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-twice-death-dutch-woman/


Yes. The main point in the article is that an 'eldery woman... with rare cancer.. and receiving chemotherapy' died after getting covid a second time.

Most people now who get it aren't dying. The number of positive test cases is skyrocketing, but deaths aren't. There'll come a point where only death rates will used to judge whether lockdowns should continue or not, not infection rates.


Deaths in the U.K. are ballooning, as are hospital patients.

No they're not (deaths). The ratio of deaths per infections is quite low. It's right there on Google's page if you search for 'UK Covid'

Deaths in NW

17/Oct 45 (Not all data in yet)

10/Oct 37

3/Oct 22

26/Sep 14


NZ has done far better economy wise than countries that went for “don’t harm the economy”

I'm so sick of seeing New Zealand get praise for it's response. Just like Iceland, it's a tiny ass island, and yes - if you close your borders, don't produce or import anything globally, of course you'll knock it out. Then you open up again (just like we did here in Iceland) and boom, covid skyrockets again. It's not magic, it's just hiding in a cave.

You're projecting Iceland onto NZ just because they're relatively remote island nations. Iceland is very European in its skeptical and resentful response to the low-tech response to covid: masking, washing hands, social distancing. That's why when people have brought covid over it has spread through society like it has. People in NZ by the sounds of it are acting much more like ppl in SE/E Asia, adopting the low tech WHO strategy. That's why things are as they are in NZ, and why Iceland keeps suffering from outbreaks. And it's why your analogy of Iceland and NZ is a false one.

FYI, NZ is multiple islands the size of the UK with a population 15x that of Iceland.

And I just noticed that their population density is between those of Sweden and Argentina.

> if you close your borders, don't produce or import anything globally.

We're producing and exporting and importing just fine thank you.

Borders are closed to casual visitors, not goods.

Yup, that can (and just has) create opportunities for the virus to enter.

But that is a risk that can and is being managed.


> Then you open up again (just like we did here in Iceland)

That was the stupid part, and predictable.

> It's not magic, it's just hiding in a cave.

Exactly! Great strategy, so simple to implement and saves the most lives.


Can NZ produce enough food for its population? If so, that definitely seems like the right place to be in case of the apocalypse. Beautiful land, gorgeous ocean, intelligent populace, and far, far away from everyone else.

There are ~6 sheep per person in NZ and lots of wine, so I’m gonna go with yes.

Also, there’s the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival in NZ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hokitika_Wildfoods_Festival), where everyone dresses up in costumes and voluntarily eats foods that one might resort to during an apocalypse. Highly recommended.


It has good amount of meat/fish, exporting a lot now. But fruits and veggies are harder due to weather (but still possible with green houses, hydro, etc, tho to a smaller scale). It still needs corn, wheat, soy, etc to be imported.

We could be entirely self-sufficient in wheat etc, if we chose to be. Our current reliance on imports is just the free market at work - more money in dairy, and we're right next to a country that grows wheat far more efficiently.

I've watched quite a few wheat fields I grew up near become dairy pasture.


Yes. But for the love of God, we're not a lifeboat.

With its climate and low population density, it should be able to do that quite handily.


We are, and continue to be, a major exporter of food.

If you find yourself in the only place able to grow food you better be able to defend yourself as well.

Being really far away from everything else makes that a bunch easier

On the subject of the effectiveness of lockdowns I would suggest taking some time to read this well researched, cited, and sourced article about China's influence with regard to lockdowns and Covid 19

China’s Global Lockdown Propaganda Campaign

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/china-covid...

A couple quotes from the middle of the article:

> In March, Chinese state media began describing the strategy of “herd immunity”—allowing the coronavirus to spread among the young and healthy—as a violation of “human rights,” an Orwellian formulation given that lockdowns are essentially a blanket suspension of rights.

> Initially, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also opted for herd immunity. But on March 13, suspicious accounts began storming his Twitter feed and likening his plan to genocide. This language almost never appears in Johnson’s feed before March 12, and several of the accounts were hardly active before then. Britain locked down on March 23.


Realistically the could eliminate influenza by staying isolated from the rest of the world, just like they did with covid. Would it be worth it?

Unfortunately influenza has animal reservoirs that COVID-19 does not seem to. It is unlikely we could permanently eliminate it. Maybe a few seasons of reduced numbers, but that's probably the best you could expect.

Possibly dumb question: since SARS-CoV-2 came from bats originally, are bats not an animal reservoir for it?

They are, they are also a reservoir of many other unknown diseases yet to come. But people don't get into close contact with bats as often (unfortunately this time it probably happened from the unsanitary Chinese wet markets).

It did not come directly from bats to humans, there was another intermediate host species. We don't know which, pangolins possibly, or minks or some other species, probably in closer contact to humans than bats.

Right. The other thing is that (as far as I know) there are no species in which sars-cov-2 is endemic. It may be that (besides humans) there had only ever been one other carrier of this particular virus. There are probably close relatives of sars-cov-2 that are common in bat species, but not necessarily the exact same strain.

Flu jumps from animals (birds and pigs) frequently so you will have to do that all the time. Not worth it

Isolated from the rest of the world forever? Probably not worth it

We can come and go.

Have you met the rest of the world? I'd rather spend an age in Lothlórien than deal with Trump. I mean, at least Sauron actually had Infrastructure Week.

If the alternative is a high risk of death then yes, I guess.

It seems unlikely such isolation is going to be needed to eradicate influenza. A universal flu vaccine ("FLU-v") passed phase 1 and 2 clinical trials earlier this year [1] [2], and is moving on to phase 3 trials.

[1] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-03-universal-flu-vaccine...

[2] https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=&term=FLU-v&cntr...


I mean, they could just mandate flu vaccine for everyone in or entering the country. I can see that being sufficient, without continuing the cumbersome isolation policies post-COVID.

There's not one single "flu" - when you get a flu vaccination it's good for some particular strains which are (iirc) prevalent or particularly virulent at a given point when they're administered.

Flu vaccines are probably not effective enough, even if 100% of the population was vaccinated.

Flu vaccines work, they just don't work perfectly. Many years you'd still get sick, the severity is just attenuated by the flu vaccine.

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm

> recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine.


People chearleading lockdowns here, are completely misguided. There's really no evidence that it were masks or lockdowns. (There's really no evidence that mask and/or lockdowns do absolutely anything to COVID or flu, now or in the past, BTW).

It's more likely that COVID just out-competed the normal flu. https://twitter.com/kylamb8/status/1317186379483406337


> It's more likely that COVID just out-competed the normal flu.

"Out-competing" another disease requires them to both be present in the population they're competing over. This was never really the case for COVID-19 in New Zealand -- the country went for months with no identified cases of community transmission.


Thanks. OK. That might be different. If they did already have a very low presence, then they might have just suppressed it and border controls and low traffic prevented seeding new cases from abroad.

Elsewhere in the world we're seeing similar 98% drop in flu cases, starting even before the preventing measures.

Seriously, the discussion in comments in https://twitter.com/kylamb8/status/1317246961255370752 is really good, no matter the ones particular viewpoints.




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