“I’m sorry sir, but the deluxe suite we promised you appears to have been double-booked. But that’s okay, because we just happen to have a vacant sleep-out around the back. You’ll have to share the bathroom and there’s no carpark, but there’s a nice view over the demolition yard next door.”
“I’m sorry sir, but the A-class Mercedes you booked for your road trip is stuck in Eketahuna. But never mind – there’s a nice Hillman Hunter available. It’s got 230,000 km on the clock, but that’s okay, because these marvellous old motor cars can go forever. Plus the radio still works, though it's AM only.”
We can expect to be fed a similar line by Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins now that it’s clear the government is falling pitifully behind in its vaccination programme.
After being assured eight months ago that we were at the front of the queue for the sought-after Pfizer vaccine, we now learn that we’re actually at the tail end and Hipkins is crossing his fingers that enough dribs and drabs will trickle in to keep the programme going.
We’re down to our last 30,000 doses, with another 80,000 waiting to be processed, and in Hipkins’ own words, we’re “very close” to running out. Meanwhile, only one in 20 of the people most vulnerable to the virus have been immunised, and national anger is steadily building over incompetence and false promises.
National MP Chris Bishop, possibly the only member of the National caucus still engaging in real-world politics, blames the government for leaving it too late to order from Pfizer and says New Zealand is now a sitting duck for the highly contagious Delta strain.
But that’s okay, because Hipkins has other options up his sleeve. Suddenly he’s talking about dosing us with the AstraZeneca and Janssen (aka Johnson and Johnson) vaccines, both of which are going through the Medsafe approvals process.
Quality assurance checks are holding up the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is hardly reassuring. And this from Hipkins himself: “[It’s] not as good as Pfizer, but it’s certainly still a very good vaccine.”
That’ll be the Hillman Hunter option, then.