We expect that knowledge produced and applied in a health emergency will produce information that is protective of health. But it is increasingly apparent that over the last two years New Zealand’s Ardern government has designed policy, regulation, and information to coercively steward citizens to accept a drug under provisional consent.
Strict lockdowns were promised to end when 90% of the population was vaccinated. This was unprecedented: policy endpoints required population-level uptake of novel technology, no matter whether the individual was at risk or not.
In addition, data production was contracted by the department intent on a 90% vaccination rate. For decades governments have promoted ‘evidence-based science’ as the gold standard for public reasoning and risk deliberation. What we saw was internally produced and contracted science that focused on case rates, while (inconvenient) information in the published scientific literature on vaccine risk, waning and breakthrough was ignored.
This produced a tightly controlled scope of knowledge production that then failed to adhere to long-established democratic and public health principles. Responsible risk governance requires that governments must be responsive to data that indicates a technology is not as effective or is possibly more harmful than estimated, – for a democratic government’s primary role is the protection and safety of all citizens. Technology must not be valorized, and uncertainty set aside, in order to achieve policy ends.
Universal Vaccination Assumed from April 2021
New Zealand’s Unite Against Covid-19 ‘elimination’ strategy was confirmed in the first quarter of 2020. Policy, propaganda and legislation predominantly centred around the case, or infection rate, rather than the fatality rate as the measure of risk.
Even though the clinical trials did not demonstrate that the vaccine prevented transmission and infection, the Government promoted ‘the jab’ as a way to protect families in the Unite Against Covid-19 campaign. Persistent reporting of case rates fostered a perpetual state of fear and uncertainty among the population, who perceived infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus to be something more like Ebola.
The Ardern government’s intention for the entire population to get the mRNA vaccine was declared through the signing of a supply agreement. This intention was then embedded in policy and regulation via the Traffic Light system, designed to nudge the population over 12 into compliance.