NZ is pinning its hopes on a vaccine

NZ is pinning its hopes on a vaccine

Coronavirus:
Modelling shows NZ’s lockdown could buy time for a vaccine


RNZ,

27
March, 2020

Modelling
done by New Zealand researchers shows the lockdown measures now in
place could buy the country more than a year for a vaccine or
treatment to be developed.


However,
the research shows that without a vaccine or cure, cases of Covid-19
will still peak well beyond hospital capacity as soon as any lockdown
ends.


The
modelling, released today by Te Punaha Matatini, shows measures
similar to those now in place can suppress the virus for up to 400
days but infections could spike as soon as they are gone, because the
population will not have developed any herd immunity.


However,
any fewer restrictions would result in a peak of at least six times
hospital capacity within just a few months.


The
paper compares a “suppression strategy” – a sustained
period of restrictions – with a “mitigation strategy”,
where controls are lifted for brief periods before being put in place
again as infections rise and ICU beds fill up.


In
all scenarios, the lockdown period is modelled to last significantly
longer than the initial four weeks that began today.


However,
one of the researchers, University of Auckland Professor Shaun Hendy,
told RNZ the current lockdown could be sufficient if all measures
were rigidly enforced.


“Provided
the contact tracing, testing, and containment strategy works then we
may be able to relax in four weeks. But we need to cut cases to just
a handful.”


The
researchers wrote that both strategies were “fraught with
uncertainty” but suppression at least had the advantage of
buying New Zealand time until a vaccine or treatment became
available.