We might have sympathy for a ‘technical anomaly’ that requires a law change because the government’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine went beyond what the Medicines Act allowed.
But that sympathy doesn’t extend to two other health related news items:
Auditor-General John Ryan has raised major doubts about whether everyone will be vaccinated for Covid-19 by the end of the year.
He has released his review of the government’s roll out plan, outlining several shortcomings in the government’s plan.
“Problems were inevitable for a rollout of the scale and complexity of this one,” Ryan said.
“I am not yet confident that all the pieces will fall into place quickly enough for the programme to ramp up to the level required over the second half of 2021. There is a real risk that it will take more time than currently anticipated to get there.”
The lack of vaccinators posed a “significant risk” to getting the rollout done on time, and the Ministry of Health should get moving on the non-regulated workforce – non-medical workers who would be trained to immunise, Ryan said. . .
It’s not difficult to share the AG’s lack of confidence when persisting issues with our contact tracing capacity, with staff during the so-called Valentine’s Day cluster at risk of burnout despite dealing with just a handful of cases.
Emergency planning documents from the February outbreak have been obtained, which show concerns were flagged about “limited resources” almost immediately.
At the peak of the outbreak, with just 15 active community cases and 160 people to follow up within a day, the majority of staff were not working sustainable or appropriate hours.
It’s raised concerns with how we’d cope with a significant outbreak – like what Taiwan is currently experiencing, with 700 local cases over the past week. . .
It’s also raised concerns, added to by the AG’s report, that assurances that everyone who wants to be vaccinated by the end of the year will be.
If the Ministry can’t cope with a relatively small and localised challenge, how can we have confidence it will cope with a nationwide roll-out of the vaccine?
And are we surprised this looks like another government initiative where the promise won’t be matched by the delivery?