Covid-19: The 1pm update review – Spain rides to the Government’s rescue – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: September 10, 2021 at 6:19 am

ANALYSIS: Spain has never been all that high on New Zealands Christmas list.

It is literally on the opposite side of the world, and has historically not been a great importer of our various proteins.

But Covid-19 has scrambled plenty of old truths, and we can now thank Spain as one of two countries that have helped us out of a tight spot. The other will remain a mystery until next week.

Spain, and its dashing prime minister, allowed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to present that rarest of things for a 1pm press conference in the middle of an outbreak: Good news.

READ MORE:* Covid-19 live: Kiwis have 'wind in our sails' with vaccination campaign* Covid-19 NZ: Government buys 250,000 extra Pfizer vaccine doses from Spain, another deal in works

Twitter/sanchezcastejon/Supplied

Jacinda Ardern with Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez (File photo).

Ardern announced that New Zealand would be buying 250,000 doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from Spain, with the shipment set to arrive on Friday morning.

Alongside another larger and as-yet unsigned deal with an unknown country, this will get the country through a looming supply shortage set to hit in late-September.

That supply shortage wasnt huge it would have restricted the Government to 50,000 doses a day, instead of the 70,000-odd it is doing now so it doesnt need a giant amount of extra doses to get through.

But it would have been extremely damaging politically for the Government to have shown that it can do vaccinations at a huge scale about 1.8 per cent of the population in a single day at some points only to scale that down in the middle of an outbreak because it hadnt ordered the vaccines early enough. (Ironically, just as the news of these deals has firmed up in recent days, the actual rate of vaccinations have dropped back down a bit about 10,000 fewer doses a day on average.)

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Spanish PM Pedro Snchez.

So Spain got Ardern out of a tough spot. She wasnt afraid to admit that her pre-existing personal relationship with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Snchez may have helped.

Snchez and Ardern have a reasonable amount in common, both having helped resurrect social democratic parties that were circling the dustbin of history while younger parties to the left of them snipped at their heels.

But goodwill was not all it took: Ardern also made clear that New Zealand had spent some money more than the list price Pfizer offers. The deal was in good faith which presumably means we werent absolutely gouged, but you never know.

Spain, it should be said, can stand to send over 250,000 doses. At the height of its vaccine roll-out it was administering twice that many doses every day. And having fully vaccinated well over 70 per cent of its population, its now hit a bit of a wall - with more doses than there appears to be immediate demand for.

It wasnt all good news at the podium, however.

While there were just 13 new community cases on Thursday, the Government revealed that six of Wednesdays cases were out in the community while infectious. The more days that number is above zero, the longer Auckland will have to stay in lockdown.

The number of unlinked or mystery cases also grew by six to 30 cases. These are people who have Covid-19 but no clear link to another case. Hopefully those six cases will be cleared up soon, but some unlinked cases do seem to be sticking around. There were 25 as of yesterday, meaning just one mystery got solved overnight. Of that 25, 14 are from before August 31, meaning their link to the outbreak was quite a while ago and hopefully came before level 4.

The Ministry of Health is focusing more of its efforts on the cases from about a week to a week and a half ago notably nine cases found between August 31 and September 4. The timing suggests these cases were all infected during the level 4 lockdown, but the Government still cant work out how.

It seems unlikely Spain will be any help with that one.

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Covid-19: The 1pm update review - Spain rides to the Government's rescue - Stuff.co.nz

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