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Why have a COVID enquiry? Why not just declare success with a partisan study? 

In brief
  • A government funded study, not surprisingly, applauds  the government’s COVID response. 
  • The research seems to be oblivious to the controversy swirling around the COVID response and  the media continues in its compliant support.
  • The study relies on selected, speculative, modelling but there is other modelling (similarly speculative) they could have chosen. that would result in the opposite conclusion.  
  • The study has obvious “social justice” overtones.  Outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated were not considered. Nor were vaccine injuries.

The media’s failure to question controversial reports that support the government is not confidence inspiring  

A recent government study, “The impact of COVID-19 vaccination in Aotearoa New Zealand: A modelling study,” touted in the media suggests that vaccines prevented approximately 4,000 to 12,000 deaths in New Zealand during the Omicron phase of the COVID pandemic. At issue is not the study’s conclusions per se, although they would be scoffed at by many knowledgeable critics, but the willingness of the media to parrot those conclusions.

Why have a COVID enquiry? Why not just declare success with a partisan study?  - Centrist
“I don’t doubt you that YOU say the food’s delicious, but I’m still going to need to take it with a grain of salt, please!”

It has historically been important for media publishing on contentious topics to maintain a sceptical perspective and be qualified to comment on it intelligently. Nowadays it is more like “choose a side and ride that horse”, come what may. But maybe voters aren’t quite so sure about the success of the COVID response since both ACT and NZ First promised to expand the COVID enquiry. 

The funding source is one red flag

The study discloses it was funded by the NZ government and the media at least mentions that.

While funding from government sources is not inherently problematic, it’s no secret that every aspect of the COVID pandemic has been heavily politicised, including choosing experts who you know support your position. 

Models are only as good as the underlying assumptions 

Overall, while some modelling can offer insights into complex systems and decision-making processes, any model has inherent limitations and uncertainties. Sometimes modelling isn’t even worth doing, no matter how many fancy illustrations you include, since it is so speculative. 

We don’t pretend to have all the answers on this one, but it doesn’t take much effort to find out there is another side to this, including other ‘experts’ estimating the vaccines will end up killing more people than this study says they have saved. And there are specific critiques on this study, which we don’t warrant but say are worth reading. See the Hatchard Report.

Off the hop, the researchers fail to investigate health differences between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. It seems they have access to government data but don’t discuss the comparison which would be the holy grail of data. A key assumption made by the authors: they assumed the vaccine was effective, with little downside. 

The jury is still out on what role COVID vaccines may be playing in the ongoing excess deaths phenomenon

Why the political language?

The study talks of Aotearoa New Zealand. It also uses the term equity to talk about the vaccine roll out being unfair to Maori somehow, since they had lower vaccine rates. This is ideological  flag waving that, in our view, detracts from the objectivity of the study. 

The data for this particular study is confidential so it cannot be easily scrutinised. This is a further reason  to approach the study’s findings with caution.

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