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The needs of the many

16 October 2020

New Zealand has Covid 19 under control.

Or does it?

Without a vaccine and with no guarantees that there will ever be any vaccine capable of providing long-lasting protection from the virus, are we simply postponing the inevitable?

Will all the economic hurt and cyclic restrictions on personal freedoms ultimately be for nought?

Did Sweden have the right idea with its plan to develop herd immunity?

How about we let the old, the weak, the genetically feeble perish, that the rest of the population can get on with life?

No, I'm not seriously suggesting that but there are those who are already proposing that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few".

Given that the death rate from CV19 infection is somewhere around one percent, the argument is that it's a small sacrifice to make, to allow 60 million or so to perish, that the rest of the world can prosper.

Indeed, when the Spanish Flu raged early last century, that's exactly how we conquered the threat. It wasn't by choice of course, it was because we had no other really effective option.

Do we have any other option today?

Sadly, we may have to admit that we don't.

Based on data obtained from the ranks of those who have caught the virus and survived, it appears that any immunity granted by such contact is short-lived at best. Anywhere from several weeks to several months seems to be about the standard period during which re-infection is unlikely.

Of course, just as with the common cold, exposure to one strain of CV19 does not provide much protection at all from infection with a different strain and there are now a number of variants in the wild. What's more, in at least one case, a second infection produced symptoms that were far worse than the first.

So, if the prospect of throwing one in every 100 people under the bus so as to restore the freedoms of the other 99 and protect the prosperity of the nation is ethically and moraly unacceptable, what do we do?

Instead of quarantining those who are infected, do we instead simply quarantine the healthy who fall into the highest risk categories? Do we create small clusters of the vulnerable and build "health zones" around them where "regular folk" are not allowed? The old and the infirmed could be taken out of every-day society and cloistered in areas where the virus itself could be excluded.

That sounds like a recipe for a longer life but not necessarily a happier one for those affected.

Do we make New Zealand a quarantine nation?

Can we keep our borders closed forever? Might we be able to turn New Zealand into the South Pacific utopia that we've all dreamed of? A nation where we focus on self-sufficiency, renewable processes for energy, food production and the essential industries required to make a modern civilisation work?

Think of the jobs that would create. Think of how this might strengthen our sense of unity and community, whilst bolstering our national pride.

Sure, we'd still need to trade with the outside world but we'd remain a bubble of isolation, albeit imprisoned in our own paradise.

Well those are the only options I can think of to mitigate the effects of this global pandemic from New Zealand's perspective. Can readers come up with any better ideas?

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