Friday, August 12, 2022

Asleep at the wheel

A couple of months ago, in response to a Newsroom piece about what endemic covid means for Aotearoa, I asked Treasury and the Ministry of Health what advice they'd produced on the impacts of "long covid" on the economy and health system. Treasury responded quickly, admitting that they hadn't been thinking about it at all. And on Wednesday, after months of being dicked around by what is rapidly becoming one of Aotearoa's least transparent agencies, I got the response from Ministry of Health. They actually did have documents to give me, which showed that they had agreed a clinical definition of long covid and established a technical advisory group. As for anything about impacts on the health system, nope, they haven't been thinking about it either.

Which is frankly scary. As of today we've had 1.66 million reported cases of covid. Estimate of the reporting rate vary, from a half to two thirds, but (accidentally due to today's number) that means that between a half and two thirds of the whole country have already had it so far. And then it gets scary, because Ministry of Health says anywhere between 10% and "approximately half" of those people will have ongoing symptoms six months later, and a recent study had nearly 45% of them meeting the criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Even at the low end, that means we're looking at something like 2.5% of the country becoming permanently disabled by this pandemic. So far. That's the sort of thing which might just have an impact on future health system demand (not to mention employment levels, welfare spending, and the entire economy). And the agencies responsible for worrying about such things are ignoring them. The government is basicly asleep at the wheel.

It would be one thing if they were too busy trying to save us all from covid to worry about the long-term effects. But they're not. They've moved from "keep it out, stamp it out" to "let it in and let it rip", to making us "live with it" in the name of "protecting the economy". Well, the cost of that - in addition to over 1700 deaths (so far) - is a pile of human misery and long-term costs. Which they apparently haven't even done the most basic ballpark assessment on before inflicting upon us.

Heckuva job. Really builds confidence in the government's decisions, doesn't it?