Jeremy Harris: A message to the NZ PM

Dear Prime Minister,

I supported the initial national lockdown and move to quarantined borders. Over the last six months the situation has changed markedly in four respects:

  • Firstly, the Infection Fatality Ratio can now be calculated to be much lower than thought at the time (3.4% then), likely it is a maximum of 0.30% and possibly lower than 0.10% (when rest homes are properly protected).
  • Secondly, we now have reasonable cause to believe that herd immunity is reached at 15% – 25% measured by antibodies due to mediated T-Cell immunity, not 60% to 70% as we first thought. There are numerous studies essentially proving this fact at this stage (I’m happy to provide links).
  • Thirdly, we now know for certain that lockdowns will take hundreds of times more quality adjusted life years (QALY’s) off our fellow NZers than anything the virus can do. This has been shown by the study conducted by your own Productivity Commission regard the extension to level 4 in April, which showed the lockdown extension taking ~100x more QALYs off our fellow New Zealanders than the virus could (again I’m happy to provide this). 100x is probably very low as this fact has also been calculated by a number of NZ-based economists at much higher ratios. We don’t make decisions in this way with the PHARMAC budget, setting speed limits, the BCRs we use to decide on transport infrastructure, really anything else at all the government does. Why is this risk different?
  • Fourthly, we now know that if we stick with this elimination strategy, the virus will return over and over, and we will require lockdown after lockdown until there is a vaccine, a vaccine, mind you, that may never be coming and will be highly unlikely to protect the vulnerable when it does. It is also cruel to hold out hope for the elderly and ill that a white knight is coming, a white knight that might be little more effective than a placebo. This process of repeat lockdowns and lack of certainty will destroy swathes of our nation economically.

The experts you are relying on are making catastrophic and ridiculously overcautious mistakes, and it makes sense that they would, since all their incentives are to overact, their livelihoods are secure, and they will suffer no reputational damage due to their conservative miscalculations – only under-calculations seem to matter in epidemiology.

Let me tell you whose livelihoods are at risk though, the four families my business supports, and all young people who are having their futures cruelly curtailed. This cannot continue. GDP and health outcome have a causal relationship, and this wanton destruction of the economy through fear and lack of certainty is going to kill tens of thousands of NZers over the next fifty years, taking millions of QALYs off all our lives, and even then we’ll eventually have to deal with this virus like adults anyway in the next year or so.

No one, including the media, seems to be asking the pertinent question: Does what we are doing make sense?

History is going to judge the world’s reaction to this virus (including our reaction) for decades, if not centuries, with complete disbelief. How could people hurl themselves into a global depression that will negatively effect an entire generation, over something, that while deadly and terrible, is so benign compared to the actions they have taken.

What we need now is leadership. Actual leadership. Actual leadership is not aping other countries, it is not running around burning down the country to reduce deaths due by one cause, it isn’t even communicating well. Actual leadership is making the obvious but hard and politically risky decision, by telling New Zelanders the increasingly obvious truth, that this virus has been let out of its bottle, that everyone in the country will have to face it at some point and in some form. Anything else is an unethical calamity via the use of force on healthy individuals, and for the elderly and ill it is really immoral trying to delay this – as the chance of death increases exponentially with age. But the good news is that the virus is not as bad as we feared, that it is serious almost exclusively to a very visible and small minority of the population who we can protect via preemptive quarantine, and that if you are under 65 and healthy you have less to fear than many, many other risks you take in your daily life and that for you, your life should have always gone on as normal.

Prime Minister, if you fail to reverse course, then everything you do from this point on for the rest of your life will be judged a failure, and you will be remembered, quite rightly so, as one of – if not the – worst, Prime Minister in our history, who frittered away our sense of ourselves and our liberties because you couldn’t, with a calm head, accurately weigh risk and reward and decide the right thing to do for our country.

I implore you all in copy, someone be the grown up here and start to save our country from fear and panic. This is not what our species or our country is. We are not static and cowering irrational hysterics, we are innovative, bold and proud people who face our problems head on, adjust and move forward with confidence.

Best Regards,

Jeremy Harris


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12 thoughts on “Jeremy Harris: A message to the NZ PM

  1. Thanks for the article. I share your concern about the vaccine – if it arrives at all and is about as good as the annual flu shot, it will not be a magic bullet.
    I’d be interested in seeing the Productivity Commission’s modelling on QALYs if you could drop the link.

  2. My family on my father’s side were some of the first Europeans to move to New Zealand and they were hardy people. Polio was common, and affected everyone up to and including my father’s generation badly. They built the country from nothing; life was hard but they were tough. They’d never have shut everything down and cowered in fear of a new flu strain.

  3. It will be interesting to see what happens to excess deaths – worldwide and in specific countries – after the vaccines are administered.

    If past experience is any guide, deaths from respiratory (and perhaps other) diseases can be expected to rise, not fall.

    As for the prevailing pandemic of lunacy, it is by no means surprising to historians, psychologists, and other students of human nature. Episodes of mass hysteria have occurred regularly throughout recorded history. Millennarianism; The Children’s Crusade (and, perhaps, all the Crusades); Dutch tulip mania; the South Sea Bubble; the various eschatological sects; the world wars; Scientology; “global warming”; flying saucers and alien abduction; Russiagate; the Skripal/Navalny farces… it just goes on.

    Individual human beings, and even well-chosen small groups, can be highly intelligent and sane. But human beings in the mass are like large quantities of plutonium: never far from a devastating explosion.

  4. Tom Welsh: “It will be interesting to see what happens to excess deaths – worldwide and in specific countries – after the vaccines are administered.

    If past experience is any guide, deaths from respiratory (and perhaps other) diseases can be expected to rise, not fall.”

    Do you have a source for this?

  5. “DEADLY AND TERRIBLE”? Oh please!
    Read this to see how deadly and terrible this nonsense is! These are the official ONS stats for UK all cause deaths, August 2020.
    “Deaths registered in the year-to-date
    Death occurrences in August 2020 and year-to-date
    Monthly Mortality Data
    Measuring the data
    Strengths and limitations
    Related links
    Print this statistical bulletin

    Download as PDF

    1.Main points
    In August 2020, there were 34,750 deaths registered in England, 2,060 deaths fewer than the five-year average (2015 to 2019) for August; in Wales, there were 2,379 deaths registered, 116 deaths fewer the five-year average for August.
    The leading cause of death in August 2020 was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in England (accounting for 10.9% of all deaths) and ischaemic heart disease in Wales (11.0% of all deaths); both leading causes of death were the same in July 2020.
    The coronavirus (COVID-19) did not feature in the top ten leading causes of death in August 2020, in England or Wales. In England, COVID-19 was the 24th most common cause of death and in Wales it was the 19th most common cause of death, for deaths registered in August 2020.”
    Deadly and terrible? Where’s the All Black spirit?

  6. @Nikolai Vladivostok

    Please find the Productivity Commission’s report below:

    Summary – Cost to Benefit of 96 to 1 with an IFR of 1.1%.

    You may also be interested in Dr. Lally’s work:

    Summary – BCR of 190 to 1 if NZ retained only 25% of it’s pre-covid international border movements.

    Tailrisk Economics also did some earlier work finding similar BCRs:

    You may also be interest in Professor John Gibson’s work which found that it is likely NZ would have had about 330 deaths based on OECD data and our demographics, population density, isolation, etc. Starts about 27 minutes into the video.

  7. @John Wilkinson

    Yes I agree the virus is somewhere from 1.5 to 4 times worse than “common” influenza depending on a range of factors.

    My letter was actually sent to all the MPs and media in NZ, so the language was purposefully concillatory in order to reason with the unreasonable.

  8. we knew and now know for certain that lockdowns will take hundreds of times more quality adjusted life years (QALY’s) off our fellow humans


    Stop Lockdowns – WHO Covid-19 envoy David Nabarro

    Liz Truss in HoC: no scientists support a different strategy (to lockdowns)

    Really? Sweden, North Dakota,

    weigh risk and reward and decide the right thing to do

    Exactly. Everyone does everyday and the reward be it easy, quicker, financial, pleasure trumps the risk

    If risk was all one considered nobody would ski, box, climb, swim, …. or use a train as it goes to fast for human body

  9. I and others have been saying since March that Kiwis are banking on the uncovered cheque of an effective and safe vaccine only with this approach, and that they will either have to face the virus in one go at one time, or live like the Sentinelese for good if that vaccine never arrives.
    And the longer it takes, the more Susceptible will Kiwis be to that virus and even in case of the vaccine, they will then be more Susceptible to its relatives and successors than all other people.
    I am afraid, as Ardern’s reelection shows, that Kiwis will have to live in an open air prison for good now, and that they actually wanted it that way.

  10. Re:

    My mistake, meant South Dakota

    Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem – We Were Correct Not To Lockdown

    Unsurprisinly attacked then cancelled like that country which no longer exists – Sweden

    Meanwhile New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern wins election with landslide for making NZ a closed to world penal colony – Stockholm syndrome?

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