What else will go?

Covid-19 has claimed another victim:

Pharmac has frozen plans to fund a lung cancer drug that would have helped at least 1400 patients a year, saying it can no longer afford to make the investment.

The move has dashed hopes that Keytruda would soon be publicly funded for lung cancer – New Zealand’s biggest cancer killer. . .

What will follow?

Other drugs, other treatments, more research.

Health received $19.871 billion in the 2019/20 Budget. More than $9 billion has already been spent on wage subsidies as part of the response to the Covid-19 lockdown.

That’s a big hole to fill and it won’t just be health that gets less.

What was expected to be a vote-buying spend-up Budget next month will be much, much more restrained.

We’re told that most people support the lockdown, but how many understand the full costs, and not just in money but in businesses, livelihoods and lives?

How many would have been at least as supportive of a response that safe-guarded people from the rampant spread of Covid-19 while letting more businesses operate?

The insistence on using the arbitrary view of what’s essential rather than what’s safe has increased the economic and social costs of the lockdown while doing nothing at all to make it more effective.

I got an email last week telling me I could buy text books and any children’s reading material from Dunedin’s University Book Shop but I couldn’t get adult novels until after the lockdown was eased.

How could delivering an adult novel be any more risky than the other books deemed essential?

A friend needed a merino t-shirt as the one she uses for her daily walks is falling to bits. She went on line and found she could buy long-sleeved merino garments but not t-shirts.

Why is a t-shirt not essential when something with longer sleeves is, and how much more risk is there in packing, dispatching and delivering a t-shirt than in doing it for something with long sleeves?

Another friend’s elderly mother has her lawns mown by a man who brings his own mower.

Providing he stayed outside and kept at least two metres from her, how is that any more risky than her grandson coming with his mower, and keeping a safe distance, to cut her lawn?

There are very small examples, there are plenty more much bigger ones of constraints on commerce that should not have been imposed.

Health and safety in employment law is rigorous at the best of times, its requirements should be fit for the purpose of safeguarding employees and customers in these worst of times.

Had businesses which could have operated safely been able to do so the government would be spending less on welfare, staff subsidies and business support.

These businesses, and their employees, would be then be contributing to public coffers through tax, rather than taking from them.

That would have gone someway to reducing the cost of the lockdown and contributing to a swifter recovery.

It might not have been enough to save Pharmac from reversing its decision to fund Keytruda for lung cancer, but it would have made the difference between life and death for some businesses and the livelihoods of their staff.

7 Responses to What else will go?

  1. Andrei says:

    …I couldn’t get adult novels…

    I didn’t pick you as an aficionado of that particular literary genre Ele 🙂

    Strangely enough sex toys are considered an “essential item” though.

    And as an example of the weirdness of our times Sarah Templeton from Newshub has the following sage advice :
    Doctors warn against making homemade sex toys during lockdown


  2. homepaddock says:

    Whoops, Andrei, I was thinking novels for adults rather than for children which is very different from the genre you grinned at. Apropos of that I’m with whoever it was, (maybe Tolkein?), who said good children’s books are good books for people of all ages.


  3. pdm says:

    Well spotted Andrei – but I wonder about how your mind works. lol.


  4. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind and commented:
    Some sensible comments on the inconsistencies in this lockdown; plus the impact going forward


  5. Andrei says:

    No need to explain yourself Ele – I knew full well what you meant, but in these serious times a little lightheartedness doesn’t go amiss.

    We are going to have a major increase in cancer deaths over the next few years because for a month now and for some time to come people have been waiting to get suspicious tumours investigated and if malignant start treatments

    There must be a huge backlog by now which is increasing daily and will take some time to work through when the country finally gets back to work

    I wonder l how many pap smears for example have not been done and what the implications of these being delayed will have upon the cervical cancer death rates over the next few years.

    And now I have got serious again and feel very very sad


  6. Murray Roxburgh says:

    No surprises when one understands most if not all those making the decisions over the plunge into total control have zero real life associations let alone skills!

    Book learning and political indoctrination will never substitute for ability to think on ones feet and consider a much wider set of possible unfortunate outcomes.

    It is very likely that even the crats and advisers backing the pollies who it is well documented have lived in their Bubble since they drew breath will never have borrowed to begin an enterprise of any genre where failure can lose everything and I mean everything.

    Very soon a growing number of New Zealanders who have done nothing wrong will face ruin and Dr Deborah Russell’s words will be tears in the wind.


  7. Teletext says:

    Now the matter of Andrei’s and Ele’s use of sex toys has been settled, it is timely to remember that this COL government has been down on Health ever since it took office.

    Their record so far is to remove targets that were very successfully working to ensure that cancer treatments, elective surgeries and out- patient visits were efficiently carried out for the benefit of both patients and DHB’s.

    This lead to an immediate downgrading of all the above and other services so that when the virus arrived it was very difficult to gear up to meet the needs. Now Pharmac is being hit and the losers are the above patients once again.

    Shows the incompetence of the COL when a totally useless Dr of Divinity is put in charge of what is probably the most important social Ministry. Shows the abilities and level of competence among the rest of the losers.


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