To make elimination work, we will need civic tools like rapid local testing, safe quarantine and isolation facilities, a thorough contact-tracing system, and national emergency decision-making frameworks. If it does not exist, then we must build it. We should not be afraid of this workload, nor see it as justification that a more convenient approach is needed – that would be a completely self-defeating approach. The development of these tools and capabilities is work that must be done before the next major outbreak occurs, or else we will find ourselves back in the same position. Since we are still dealing with the current pandemic, there is no better time for us to begin that task.
When people say ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ this is what they mean: you make the changes during the crisis that will protect you from the next one. In doing so, you help to work the nation out of the ongoing crisis. That work should have started at the immediate outset of the crisis, and it should have continued throughout. It did not, and the nation has suffered accordingly. This is just one of the many aspects of outbreak risk management in which we could learn a great deal from New Zealand.