Professor Tony Blakely, who has been based at the University of Melbourne during the Covid pandemic, told Q+A that New Zealand needs to get its vaccine coverage "north of 70 per cent" before it begins to relax its border controls.
On Thursday, the Government announced its plans for a staged reopening of New Zealand’s borders once those who are eligible for vaccination have had the opportunity to receive it.
However, both the scientists contributing to the report and the Government refused to set a specific target for vaccinations that needs to be achieved before border controls are relaxed — and Associate Health Minister defended that decision on Q+A on Sunday.
Blakely told Q+A that he thinks "with Delta New Zealand is much better just to shut themselves off until New Zealand gets its vaccine coverage north of 70 per cent and then you open up again.
"But the big learning out of this is how hard it is to control Delta if it gets a little bit out of control. So don’t even let it get in".
Blakely argues Australia, and in particular New South Wales, have handled the latest outbreak badly.
"They didn’t do a hard enough lockdown, early in the piece. The virus is now in the essential workers, in culturally and linguistically diverse workers... it’s now very hard to eke out.
"So for those reasons it’s proving very challenging for Sydney. The chance of them actually getting back to zero transmission from here, I think, is unfortunately, very slight."