A REMARKABLE series of documents has been produced by a New Zealand organisation called Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa, hosted by the University of Auckland but funded directly by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is headed by the wildly inaccurate Covid modeller Dr Shaun Hendy, who once predicted 80,000 imminent NZ deaths (the current toll being 53) and includes the participation of academics from universities across the country.
The papers are remarkable because they indicate the genesis of the unique and blinkered pandemic perspective of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern which has diverged from that followed among other countries and from that found in global science publishing. The documents in some cases exhibit in their referenced material a lack of awareness of the extensive content of global science publishing on the pandemic.
One paper of particular interest is entitled ‘Evaluating the infodemic: assessing the prevalence and nature of COVID-19 unreliable and untrustworthy information in Aotearoa New Zealand’s social media, January-August 2020’.
It is hardly remarkable that the NZ Labour government uses sophisticated computer systems to monitor the social media content of its citizens (what government doesn’t?), but the methods used and the starting point of evaluation are highly indicative of where the repressive and controlling Covid policy began.
The paper accepts a number of controversial ideas as true, such as the zoonotic origin of Covid-19. It describes discussion of a bioengineered origin of Covid in a Chinese lab as xenophobia and a conspiracy trope, when it was a matter of general scientific debate at the time the article was published.
The table shown above condemns as ‘disinformation’ many scientific discussions around Covid, most of which the subject of science publishing even in mid-2020. It dismisses them as fallacious without justification. Subsequent data analysis has upheld them in large part. Yet the rejection by Ardern of their moderating tone was and is used to stoke fear in the whole population.
Concepts of herd immunity since found to play a highly significant role in reducing Covid severity are dismissed as oversimplification and misrepresentation despite their verified and time-honoured role in developing human immunity.
Assertions that Covid-19 disproportionately affects those already ill with comorbidities or the aged (a highly verified fact) are outrageously dismissed as the result of ‘ableism’.
A further table asserts that suggestions that the vaccine might have adverse effects or may alter DNA is a conspiracy theory. Subsequently more than 1,000 papers have been published worldwide examining the deficiencies in mRNA vaccination safety and adverse effects reporting, including evidence published late in 2020 that RNA vaccine genetic sequences can and do integrate into the human genome.
Mainstream scientists, media personalities and politicians are described as using conspiracy theories to recruit New Zealanders to Right-wing causes. The attempt to marginalise Ardern’s political opponents is obvious.
The paper rejects as misleading health and well-being narratives, many of which are in fact grounded in mainstream medical advice. Thus it specifically rejects self-care options. Yet research has found many of these lifestyle and dietary options to be helpful if not critical to healthy Covid outcomes and avoidance of serious illness. These include adequate rest, exercise, a balanced diet and nutritional supplements.
This rejection of well-being programmes has found its obvious conclusion in the formation of NZ government mandates. Yet the paper describes the suspicion that there are hidden government agendas to introduce ‘forced vaccination regimes’ as an ‘opportunistic conspiracy theory’. As we now know, these suspicions voiced early on social media are almost indistinguishable from the actual oppressive vaccination mandates which Ardern eventually introduced, denying employment to those wishing to avoid risk and continue to make their own medical choices.
The push to introduce the censorship of scientific information and discussion which characterises the Ardern government is evident throughout the paper. Specific individual scientists tied to the government by both ideology, and in some cases by financial support, are picked out as people who should be the public’s sole sources of reliable information.
The paper says the aim of messaging should take the form of ‘branding’ designed to teach the public to trust the government alone; something so close to propaganda as to be almost indistinguishable.
In conclusion the paper hints that ‘simply relying on the successful multi-faceted science and public health communication approaches of the government earlier in the pandemic will not be sufficient to debunk the increasing prevalence of conspiracy theories about state control and individual rights.
‘A wide-ranging response to the increasing discussion of unreliable sources, untrustworthy narrators and conspiracy narratives in media, political, and civil society discourses is required.’
It further reports that a process for monitoring mis- and dis-information, and conspiracy narratives has been established, and describes public access to social media platforms as a problem that needs to be addressed.
The very limited scientific outlook of Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa is evident in the many other papers it has produced for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In particular, their narrative has diverged in content from trends now well understood through published data analysis around the world, including:
The strident saturation advertising of Covid-19 mRNA vaccination referring to its absolute safety.
The Ardern doctrine that the government should be the public’s only source of information.
The confidence Ardern extends to tentative and often subsequently falsified science without feeling the need to update policy.
The encouragement the government has offered to social media sites to censor content.
The politicisation of NZ’s Covid-19 policy.
Obviously, the paper and others may have fuelled and validated Ardern’s limited understanding of science. Science is a global, rational, empirical endeavour to arrive at truth, not a process tailor-made to support ideology.
Perhaps its most frightening consequence is Ardern’s rejection of the notion of individual health rights, which has obvious historical parallels.