Group to advise govt on post-vaccination future
The government has set up a public health advisory group up to provide advice and on any crucial Covid-19 decisions, including the ongoing vaccine rollout and any changes at the border.
One of its first tasks will be to advise on a vaccine target.
The six person group will be headed by epidemiologist Professor Sir David Skegg, and will be in place until mid next year.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says having the group is to ensure future decisions are "informed by the best available scientific evidence and strategic public health advice".
This will include looking at how much of the population needs to be vaccinated before border settings van be relaxed, evidence for transmission blocking properties of the vaccine, strategic public health controls when the borders reopen and public health responses to any new variants that aren’t covered by current vaccine options.
“New Zealand has worked towards an elimination strategy which has been successful in keeping our people safe and our economy in good shape,” says Hipkins.
“The next phase of the pandemic poses significant challenges, including the emergence of new variants, but it also provides us with new opportunities,” he says.
Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall says, “As the COVID-19 vaccine programme ramps up in the second half of the year, the government will face a number of decisions regarding our border and public health settings.”
The Ministry of Health will support the group’s work and share any information that would be useful to them, says Verrall.
“The members will also have a public facing role. Once advice has been considered, they will need to communicate the science behind any changes to New Zealand’s border settings,” says Verrall.
The group will report to Hipkins and Verrall and work alongside Sir Brian Roche’s Covid-19 Independent Continuous Review, Improvement and Advice Group, especially around health protections post vaccine.