Yesterday was DAY 38 of New Zealand in lock down as we fight the COVID19 pandemic.
One of the most painful things about the global fight against COVID19, has been watching nations that New Zealanders have been told to look up to for generations stumbling from one failure to another. It would be particularly painful for the senior generation of New Zealanders including the 600 remaining World War 2 veterans who went away to help fight Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.
For many New Zealanders though, despite various concerns about COVID19, there is a growing sense of confidence that we can stand on our own two feet. For some, including myself looking across the Tasman Sea to Australia, we are again being made to realize that despite the differences we have on things like climate change, Australia’s anti-refugee and asylum seeker stance, that we are at the end of the day lucky to have them as neighbours. Australia’s progress and its similar recognition that having New Zealand as its neighbour first world neighbour is significantly beneficial, has been one of the driving forces in recent weeks propelling moves to consider how to reopen the Trans-Tasman border.
It will be tempered sorely though by the sadness and the disgust at how America, a country that successive generations of New Zealanders have been encouraged to look up to as a role model, seems bent on tearing itself to bits. A combination of the following factors (among others) has crippled America’s ability to fight the COVID19 pandemic.
- The lack of a comprehensive plan to fight COVID19,
- The lack of political unity between Republicans and Democrats against a common foe
- The failure to establish a universal health system that everyone can access without having a massive bill
- The contempt shown by the United States Government for science
- The attempts by U.S. President Donald Trump to make political mileage out of it
The deliberate attempts to divide the country by Mr Trump will have constitutionalists worried for the future of the Republic. When a sitting President encourages an armed mob to occupy the state legislature to prevent the State Governor and others from carrying out their statutory duties, and days later an armed mob proceeds to do exactly that, is there not some sort of serious threat to the country?
I do not know how much we can trust the American response because of these factors. The United States might be one of the last countries to have ready access to New Zealand in the post-COVID19 climate.
It is not just the United States that has utterly failed. The United Kingdom is not doing so brilliantly in dealing with COVID19 either. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, had to isolate for a significant time after being diagnosed with the flu and having to spend nights in an Intensive Care Unit, initially promoted “herd immunity”. This is where the virus is allowed to spread throughout the United Kingdom and that people recovering from it are presumed to have developed immunity to COVID19 in the future. It was extremely dystopian in its methods, which the harshest commentators strongly suggested that Mr Johnson’s government wanted the elderly and vulnerable who may be immuno-compromised to die. The backlash was so severe that within a few days it had been dropped. Nevertheless, the decades long mismanagement of the National Health System and the associated under funding is likely to scar the United Kingdom long after COVID19 is beaten.
Although the United Kingdom has exited the European Union, its ability to clamp down on COVID19 might be hindered by the fact that it no longer has such ready access European Union resources. The failures by the N.H.S. are not entirely its fault and no matter where the United Kingdom goes post-COVID19, it will most probably be haunted by the many avoidable victims of one of the biggest medical disasters of recent times.
As New Zealand works its way forward, despite the mistakes we have made, our response was strong and decisive compared to that of the United Kingdom and the United States. Hopefully a year from now we will be able to look back and say it actually was a job pretty well done on our part.