New Zealand has finally given up on its insane zero Covid policy. The country has been one of the least impacted by the pandemic, which has only experienced 27 deaths in total. Now the government has apparently decided that a zero Covid goal is unreasonable, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitting that the government will begin to transition to a policy which focuses on minimizing the virus, rather than eliminating it entirely.
Eliminating Covid altogether no longer the goal
New Zealand has been generally successful in preventing Covid cases and deaths, though the strategy has resulted in extensive lockdowns.
Like several other nations, New Zealand is now giving up on a policy which called for eliminating all Covid cases before the country began to open up again.
Like neighboring Australia, the policy has seemed absurd at times, with major cities grinding to a halt in response to single cases of Covid.
Now Prime Minister Ardern has announced that the country intends to change its priorities and prioritize living with the virus, rather than eliminating it entirely.
Despite admitting that the lockdowns have not allowed New Zealand to reach its goal, Ardern refused to describe the zero Covid policy as a mistake.
The economic and social impact of the previous insistence on eliminating the virus entirely likely outweigh any good the extreme policy may have done previously.
Living with the virus
Draconian lockdown measures in Australia have likewise failed to satisfy officials who are devoted to a zero Covid policy and have sparked protests and tensions.
Like New Zealand, countries which have committed to a policy of eliminating the virus altogether are beginning to find that their attempts are doing more harm than good.
New Zealand is now hoping that widespread availability of vaccination and testing will be enough to minimize any outbreaks in the future.
Australia seems to be moving in a similar direction with its Covid plans, though the pandemic has had a far greater impact overall there than it has in New Zealand.
The rest of the world will likely be watching New Zealand with interest as it transitions to its new policy of living with the virus and mitigating its spread, rather than fully eliminating it.
Coming from a country which has seen so little direct damage from Covid, this announcement may inspire other nations to abandon their own zero Covid plans.