Analysis comment

Video: NZ’s Ardern on Johnson’s ‘herd immunity’ – it ‘would have meant tens of thousands dying.. I simply would not tolerate that’

Johnson may claim to have u-turned on his ‘take it on the chin’ stance – but New Zealand’s Labour PM says she never considered it for a moment

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand’s Labour PM Jacinda Ardern has put out a video which, while not specifically naming Boris Johnson, clearly refers to the ‘herd immunity’ he and his advisers were planning until shamed into at least a superficial change by public awareness of the enormous death toll it would have created.

In sharp contrast to Johnson’s approach – he referred on TV to ‘taking it on the chin’ and letting the virus run – Ardern’s humanity shines through as she makes clear she would never countenance any plan that would mean consigning many thousands of her people to death:

Ardern told her nation the truth that herd immunity needs 95% of the population to be immune for it to protect those without – a number entirely in line with the advice of medical experts who spoke to the SKWAWKBOX but at odds with the government’s claimed 60%.

95% immunity in the UK – without a vaccine – would mean around 2 million deaths, given the 3-4% mortality seen in European countries afflicted.

But Ardern doesn’t sugar-coat the pill of the challenges her country and the world face as they try to protect their people – at least those governments who want to.

Real leadership, by those fit to lead, looks very different to what the UK has to tolerate now.

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18 comments

  1. O.M.EFFING GOD …. how can we get her to be our PM or better still to lead our party . Just brilliant , her reaction to the murderous terrorist slaughter last year and her performance now on CV-19 in comparison to the xuckwit we have in charge is nothing short of exemplary
    She’s got my vote , well done Jacinda.
    You lucky bastards in NZ …good on yah for electing her

  2. It is common-sense. Johnson is not a total fool. His & Cummings inaction was DELIBERATE TORY IDEOLOGY. 🌹🌹🌹

    1. Yes, it was indeed the Tories ideology, after all didn’t their heroine say “ there is not such thing as society”. An ideology based on self and selfishness and every person for themselves. Yet, the “ moderates, centrists “ Blairites and the right wing malcontents moved heaven and hell to ensure that these malevolent, mischievous, monstrosities gained power in order to thwart a democratic socialist Labour Party from succeeding in a GE. It really takes the biscuit when a very small number posters on here call for unity ( I won’t name names but the democratic socialist Labour Party members know who they are ) and not to be beastly and horrid to these cretins whilst they did the exact opposite in trying to bring down Jeremy Corbyn and the democratic socialist party.

  3. It’s interesting how all British media seem keen to not mention Macron’s telephone call to Johnson on the morning of Friday 20th March when he said he’d close the border to the Uk if they pursued their ‘let it rip, herd immunity’ idea. The rest of the EU would no doubt have followed suit or face the same closure. Within hours Johnson was reversing his Policy and imposing restrictions including the closure of pubs etc and quarantine. What would have been effectively a hard Brexit on top of the epidemic was too much for Johnson to contemplate. It’s interesting what ‘taking back control’ has come to -“ Oui Mr President, of course, whatever you say”. Not being a Member of the Union means we can’t complain or lobby for our point of view, we are left powerless. Maybe that’s why we don’t hear much about it I suppose, too embarrassing?

    1. Paul……The attitude of anyone who has lived in a hard fought for Republic will always differ from a subject of the majesty and the anointed.Even the neo liberal plant Napoleon macron realises that the Citizens are supposedly to come first.Thats why we are flogging a dead horse with the establishment pantomime of knights lordys and some perverted veiw of the highness position of godly appointment,No paul neither of us could make IT up because its all bloody obvious nonsense.The difference between us and France is we will probably choke on something the modern world ditched century’s ago.Arise Sir keir Starmer leader of the democratic socialist Labour party its almost an obscenity in anywhere else other than never never land.

  4. The Reproduction Ratio determines the extent of herd immunity required for example
    RO= 2.5 = 60%
    RO= 3.28= 70%
    RO=12-18(measles)= 93-95%
    The spread of SARS COV2 has not been measured because of there was no proactive testing at the beginning of the outbreak.
    Social isolation is likely lead to another outbreak when lifted.

  5. FFS
    Get a grip, because of your hysteria and scumbag Austerity party,
    1.4 million kids entitled to free school meals are now going hungry, that’s the reality, not 2 million deaths, jesus it was only 500,000 2 weeks ago
    What the fuck is wrong with any of the known knowns,
    Not the fucking mystic meg crystal ball bullshit figures you are throwing around like pound shop confetti

    1. “FFS
      Get a grip”

      Indeed, Doug – that is the sane request.

      An hour into the daily BBC update, and the Deputy CMO is talking some sense – but within a narrative that is based on crap data.

      If I was an inveterate conspiracy theorist, I’d be asking “Why this reluctance to contextualize raw figures?”

      1. RH
        My grandad used to say
        ‘If you want to know what’s going on, follow the money’
        Methinks this is more to do with the financial pandemic

  6. Whatever the duplicitous Conservative Government says about its herd immunity (and its claim to have backtracked from it), the ABSENCE of Testing and effective Isolation means it is the de-facto policy

    Not even gross incompetence of the extent a second rate Conservative administration would be guilty could explain our situation and its increased death rate.

  7. Time for a considered left-wing response rather than one based on simply endorsing Tory panic narratives without question.

  8. Jeremy Corbyn has written to Boris Johnson about the governments ‘response’ to Covid-19.
    (below is JC’s letter – in full)

    Dear Prime Minister,

    I hope you are keeping as well as possible in the circumstances and only experiencing mild symptoms. I wish you a speedy recovery.

    As you continue to fulfil your role as Prime Minister, I am writing to put questions and concerns that are being raised with us as the Official Opposition, and to propose ways to improve the effectiveness of government interventions to overcome this crisis.

    The test for our society is whether we come through this strengthened, with greater solidarity forged in the heat of a crisis; or whether we emerge diminished, having failed to do everything possible to support each other – and especially our brave public service workers on the front line. Only decisive and inclusive government action can ensure that, this time, we really are all in it together.

    With that as our starting point, we believe the following priorities must be acted on immediately:

    1. Full PPE now for health and social care workers

    The phenomenal public outpouring of support for our NHS workers needs to be matched by government action. Why are so many frontline NHS staff still waiting for personal protective equipment? At least three NHS staff have sadly died. These dedicated public servants are risking their lives to save lives. They deserve the best protection possible.

    Neither can we tolerate a situation where social care workers – in both residential and domiciliary settings – do not have PPE. Care workers are scandalously poorly paid. Now is the moment to recognise their true value to our society and provide them with the protection they need.

    2. Test, test, test

    Testing and tracing for coronavirus has to be expanded immediately. The World Health Organisation told us to “test, test, test”. I have seen reports that up to a quarter of NHS staff are having to self-isolate. They must be urgently tested so that those who do not have the virus can return to work. The lack of testing and tracing for social care workers is risking their health and that of those they care for, who are the most vulnerable to the virus.

    At Prime Minister’s Questions on 18 March, you stated that, “We are increasing our tests from 5,000 a day to 10,000 a day.” The latest published government figures show barely 8,000 tests being carried out per day. Germany is testing 80,000 a day – ten times as many people.

    3. Expand social care

    I am extremely worried about the capacity and resilience of the social care system. Given the staff shortages that existed even before the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential that we encourage former or recently retired care workers to return to the profession.

    We have concerns about the resources available for social care and the provisions within the emergency legislation to reduce care standards. Please can you set out what extra resources have been provided to each local council for social care since the coronavirus crisis began?

    4. Enforce social distancing and protection

    Last week, the government rightly called for all non-essential retail outlets to close. There is no logical reason why this should not be extended to non-essential construction, factories, warehouse facilities and other larges-scale workplaces. It makes no sense for some mass workplaces to be shut down and others to be operating if the work is non-essential.

    Trade unions are also reporting many cases of employers failing to implement social distancing. There must be a multi-agency approach to enforce it and close non-essential work. This should involve co-ordinating the Health and Safety Executive, local authority trading standards resources, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and the police, among others.

    It is sensible that strict social distancing measures will be reviewed every three weeks, but it is now clear that the restrictions are highly unlikely to be lifted after the initial three-week period. The government needs to be clear in preparing people for this.

    5. Bolster support for workers

    Considerable public funds have been made available to businesses, but the behaviour of some employers does not live up to the spirit of solidarity we have the right to expect in return. Many employers have laid off workers and others have put staff on reduced hours rather than furloughing them. The government needs to act decisively to suspend lay-offs and enforce furloughing where necessary.

    We acknowledge the hard work done by trade unions, business groups, the government, civil servants, and others to secure the financial protections already announced. But there are substantial gaps that must now be urgently filled. For the self-employed, could you provide clarification on whether ‘dependent contractors’ or ‘limb (b) workers’ are covered, and what provision will be available for those who have become self-employed recently and so did not submit a tax return for 2018/19?

    We need a strengthened safety net for workers who have been laid off. Benefits in the UK are low compared to those of other European states. Key benefits should be immediately and substantially increased, including Carer’s Allowance and Child Benefit. Statutory sick pay must be raised without delay, especially given the Health Secretary’s admission that he could not survive on it.

    Many renters still face the prospect of huge debts. We need further action on housing benefit, to scrap the bedroom tax and the benefit cap, and to restore the local housing allowance to the 50th percentile.

    To ensure those in need get prompt and supportive help, sufficient resources should be transferred to the DWP and HMRC. I attach our proposals ‘Protecting People In and Out of Work’ for consideration by ministers.

    6. Lead a global response

    You may be aware of proposals from Gordon Brown (whose paper I attach) to coordinate global efforts to fight this pandemic.

    I support his four main proposals and would welcome your commitment to work internationally for them: an early European pledging conference to increase WHO funding; using the World Bank Development Committee in April to announce additional support for developing countries; using the IMF Committee meeting in April to extend macroeconomic support and a moratorium on debt interest payments for countries in difficulty; and establishing a G20 taskforce to coordinate action by finance ministers and central bank governors.

    Finally, let me welcome your recent comment that “there really is such a thing as society.” We in the Labour Party have always regarded this as self-evidently true. But the coronavirus crisis is highlighting the extent of our dependence on each other and the many ties of mutual aid that, woven together, make up the fabric of society. We can emerge from this crisis with that fabric strengthened – but it requires a recognition that we can no longer tolerate the inequality and insecurity that has left all of us weaker than we should have been in the face of this pandemic.

    Yours sincerely,
    Jeremy Corbyn MP

    Sorry its so long but I thought it was worthwhile reproducing it in full

    1. It might be long, yes, but it shows its author’s rigorous thinking and humane values.

      Labour will be less when Jeremy returns to the back benches. I hope not as much as I fear.

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