Manukau Courier

In the blue corner

- StuartSmit­h KaikouraMP, National

To put it mildly, the likes of Siouxsie Wiles and other modellers have been grossly inaccurate in their attempts to model Covid-19 infections in New Zealand.

They told us that we would have 50,000 cases a day by Waitangi Day weekend, so we can be forgiven for treating Wiles’ suggestion­s with a healthy level of scepticism.

It’s not justme saying that either, the Covid-19 response minister said himself that modellers’ prediction­s were equivalent to weather forecasts, and that he was ‘‘sceptical’’. Actually I think the minister is being very unkind to weather forecaster­s, they are much more reliable.

If we are to be charitable we could say that New Zealand’s response to Omicron has been average, and the responsibi­lity for this lies with the Government, who are forever blaming others for their mistakes.

The Ministry of Health is behind the eight ball and has been for some time now. Finally, it admitted what those who have been waiting over five days for their Covid PCR test result already knew, the Ministry of Health cannot process tests fast enough.

Its claim that it could process 58,000 tests per day was, frankly, farcical.

The ministry has let us down when we really needed it.

What the minister needs to understand and admit, is that he does not have all the answers, and neither does his inner circle of modellers or the ministry.

The fact of the matter is, Rako Science is already doing what Wiles has suggested and it collectedm­ore than 20,000 saliva samples across an eight-day period last week, with the majority of those samples being from asymptomat­ic individual­s.

The minister would do well to learn from Rako Science, which not only has a more efficient testing protocol, its saliva test is much more user friendly and less invasive than the old-school approach the ministry uses.

So what is suggested is already being done by a private company, filled with experts who genuinely understand epidemiolo­gy and testing.

A better approach would be to use Rako Science’s data and, if necessary, ask it to expand its testing. Why reinvent the wheel by asking the ministry to duplicate the process?

The facts are quite clear. The Government has over-promised and underdeliv­ered when it comes to testing capacity, this is too important to wait for them to learn on the job. There is no shame in admitting you don’t have capability and contractin­g others to do thework alongside you. Swallow your pride minister; we deserve better.

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