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  1. Jacinda Ardern has said that Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) are going to be “free”. Unless the RAT manufacturers are giving them away they are NOT going to be free. Someone is going to be paying for them and that will be those of us that pay more tax than what we collect from the government.

    Since some of the RATs have been “requisitioned” from companies that have prepaid for them this could reduce the overall costs to us net taxpayers.



  2. HDPA hands govt their collective arse:

    Heather du Plessis-Allan: The reason for Government’s RATs testing debacle
    After that blissful summer break, how disappointing to find ourselves in exactly the same position we found ourselves at the end of last year.

    Once again, authorities appear completely unprepared for something we could all see coming: Omicron.

    That’s the real reason for the Government taking rapid antigen tests (RATs) off private businesses.

    The story starts last year. Private businesses wanted to import RATs into New Zealand. Much of the rest of the world was already using them. In the UK, school children were testing themselves with RATs twice a week. They were being handed out in packs of seven for free.

    But our Government refused to bring them in. Ashley Bloomfield slapped a ban on the importation of RATs to make sure it couldn’t happen.

    By October, private business had run out of patience. A group of 25 industry heavyweights banded together and publicly called for the ban be lifted. The group included some of our biggest companies: Mainfreight, Foodstuffs North Island, Genesis Energy.

    hey wanted the tests to help keep their sites operational. They were bewildered by the ban. By then, Mainfreight was using RATs in 26 locations around the world.

    A week later and shamed by the lack of reason, the Government agreed to a limited trial.

    In late November, Omicron was in Australia. By December, private businesses here could see the disruption it was causing or going to cause over the Tasman. They could also see it wouldn’t be long before it arrived in New Zealand.

    And so they started ordering RATs. They knew they needed RATs to screen their workers regularly to keep Omicron out of their worksites as much as possible. Too many sick workers would shut the shop. The RATs were clearly going to be critical to keeping business going.

    They got themselves prepared.

    Then around two weeks ago the bad news started coming in. Orders were being cancelled. In some cases the orders had already been paid for. Businesses were told they wouldn’t be receiving the RATs. The Ministry of Health had overridden their orders and taken their stocks.

    The reason the ministry did that was because they hadn’t placed their own orders in sufficient quantities.

    It’s hard to fathom what basic errors were made at Government level. Did ministry staffers take too long off for summer? Did they not consider the possibility Omicron would arrive so soon in New Zealand? Had they not looked overseas and seen how important RATs had become to various countries’ Covid responses?

    Either way, they were unprepared. And so they took the RATs away from those businesses that had prepared.

    Businesses are extremely angry at this, and rightly so. They are being forced to risk their ability to remain operational because health officials and their government bosses dropped the ball. Again. This is the vaccine roll-out all over again: something obviously necessary left to the last minute, ultimately requiring a panicked scramble.

    Now, our Government has only 4.6 million RATs in the country, not enough for one test for each of us. In reality, we could burn through that supply in half a week. Over the Tasman, the state of Victoria has 14 million RATs set aside for just one task: testing schoolkids.

    This debacle will do nothing to repair the already-strained relationship between Cabinet and business. It will also do little to improve the reputation of health officials, who increasingly look like a department full of candidates for the cast of any future remake of “Yes Minister”.

    Apart from the RATs debacle, the Government is quite obviously unprepared on many other fronts as well.

    Two medications meant to reduce the need for hospitalisation if taken early in a Covid infection haven’t yet been approved in NZ. Both molnupiravir and paxlovid are already available in the UK, the US and Australia. By last count, we now have fewer ICU beds than we did at the start of the pandemic.The Prime Minister’s three stage plan for Omicron is so vague it’s clearly a case of Cabinet making it up as they go along.

    The most disappointing aspect is that it was already obvious Omicron was coming before we clocked off for summer. We could all see it moving through our closest neighbour by December. That was on our news.

    That should have been enough for Health Ministry staffers and Cabinet to start preparing. Instead, they wasted the summer prep period.



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