Would it surprise you if I told you that the government’s response to Covid is being driven by modelling that has not been submitted for any kind of peer review? Kate MacNamara from the NZ Herald reports.

The Government has now spent or contracted to spend more than $6 million for Covid-19 modelling from a single group: the University of Auckland’s Te Punaha Matatini (TPM).

[…]Last month, the Government released TPM modelling (without peer review) that highlighted an “opening up scenario” of close to 7000 deaths a year from Covid-19, even with an 80 per cent vaccination rate for the population over the age of 5.

The key phrase here is of course “without peer review”.

TPM’s work has been led by founding director Shaun Hendy, now a Principal Investigator. And Hendy himself was beamed into Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s 1pm press conference to discuss the information.

In an interview, Hendy defended the work as, “informed by New Zealand’s particular situation”. But Rodney Jones, principal at Wigram Capital, who has also provided modelling work to the Government, but who was not asked to review this piece of TPM work, said the exercise “misrepresented risk” and he described it as fearmongering.

If I were Rodney Jones I’d be pretty peeved too.

[…]A DPMC spokesperson said the contribution of TPM has been, “valuable for informing both Covid-19 strategy and outbreak management, and there is further work underway over the coming months. Deliverables include modelling on the implications of border policies and controls, health interventions, testing and contact tracing strategies, along with real-time outbreak scenarios and vaccination strategies”.

To tell the truth, I don’t know if the above is honest, or pure political spin.

But the funding focus on TPM suggests the Government is relying very heavily on a single group of experts brought together through one institution (TPM is a research centre housed within the University of Auckland and it brings together researchers from other academic institutions).

Well, that’s obvious.

So basically we have the government giving millions of dollars to a single group for Covid modelling, without any peer review of the models. Why is there no peer review? Most likely in my opinion because of government incompetence. Still, others might say that the government is paying for whomever can supply the worst-case scenario. Even worse, others might think that TPM and the government have some kind of backhand deal going on although there’s absolutely no evidence of this.

Overall though, the scariest part is that the government’s Covid response is being driven by modelling that has not been put through any kind of independent review.

Another Gold. Cartoon credit BoomSlang. The BFD.


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More Government Incompetence?


Libertarian and pragmatic anarchist. Has voted National and ACT. May have voted Labour once but too long ago to remember. Favourite saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.”