Covid 19 coronavirus: Ian Reid rebuffs Des Gorman over virus strategy

The University of Auckland medicine department head is distancing himself from colleague and prominent Covid commentator Des Gorman’s criticisms of the Government’s pandemic response.

Distinguished professor Ian Reid is head of the university’s department of medicine, of which Gorman is an emeritus professor.

Reid has come out in strong opposition of Gorman’s views, who was often critical of the Government in its pandemic management, including MIQ facilities, the transtasman bubble and the vaccine rollout.

“Des has no role in representing our department on the subject of Covid or others,” he said.

“His opinions are absolutely his own and as head of the department of medicine, I would not agree with the majority of the public statements he has made in relation to the management of Covid in New Zealand.”

Reid’s views have been put to Gorman, but he would not comment.

Gorman has been one of the more vocal academics about the pandemic and has regularly been sought out as a commentator on the pandemic.

Further attempts to gain comment from Gorman have been unsuccessful.

When asked which of his colleague’s views he specifically disagreed with, Reid referenced Gorman’s opinion that luck has been one major factor behind New Zealand’s limited number of Covid-19 cases in the community.

“To have sustained the containment of the pandemic in New Zealand over a period of 18 months cannot be attributed to sustained good luck, I think there has clearly been a lot of skilful planning and execution.”

In an interview with RNZ in January, Gorman said New Zealand had been on the end of “some very dumb good luck” in how border breaches hadn’t resulted in super-spreader events within the community.

Reid did not believe Gorman’s views, at the present time, were dangerous to the perception or execution of public health measures, but he felt Gorman’s “good luck” comment did not represent what he saw as widely-held opinions of the profession.

“Clearly there are a number of things that could have been done better with the benefit of hindsight, but I think certainly my department and I believe the broader profession are broadly supportive of what the Ministry [of Health] has done in managing the pandemic.”

Reid said the divergence in opinion would not affect the department.

University of Auckland vice-chancellor Dawn Freshwater declined to comment.

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