Friday, December 02, 2022

Still asleep at the wheel

A couple of months ago, I asked various government agencies whether they had produced any advice on the impacts of Long Covid, and was shocked to learn that they hadn't. Newsroom's Marc Daalder has been keeping an eye on this issue, and in an article today, he reports that the government is still flying blind on Long Covid:

We know very little about the impact of Long Covid in New Zealand, largely because no one is looking into it.

Official Information Act requests to the Treasury, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Ministry for Social Development and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on work done to discern the potential impacts of the illness all came up blank. More specific requests to the health and education ministries seeking any information about the impact of Long Covid on the health and education workforces, also returned nothing.

Astoundingly, while the rest of the world has woken up to this pandemic legacy, New Zealand is still flying blind.

This is an abdication of the basic duty of the public service to prepare New Zealand for future challenges and to contribute to informed decision-making by ministers. It both leaves the country vulnerable to a future wave of disability and workforce shortages and means Covid-19 policy-making lacks crucial considerations about the impact of virus spread.

As he points out, Long Covid is likely to have significant impacts on the health and welfare systems, and on the economy. It means more people unable to work, meaning higher healthcare and welfare costs, reduced wages, and reduced tax income to pay for it all. Responsible agencies would be thinking about this. But they're not. And as a result, the advice on Covid policy is one-sided, considering only the economic costs of restrictions, and not the economic benefits from less Long Covid. Which helps explain how its so shit, I guess.