3 Jul 2020

The creator of the 'bubble'

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:50 pm on 3 July 2020

It's been a buzz to see a concept you came up with taken up by your government and others around the world, says Dr Tristram Ingham, creator of the term 'bubble'.

He tells Jesse Mulligan he first came up with the idea as a way to empower people in the disability sector tp keep themselves as safe as possible through the pandemic.

Dr Tristram Ingham

Dr Tristram Ingham Photo: Supplied

Dr Ingham was at the time working with the Ministry of Health who asked him to help come up with a strategy for groups more vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19.

'For at-risk people, the general population were potentially the biggest threat - and he wanted to give these groups some sense of control over what's happening.'

Dr Ingham's team realised they needed to create a kind of social contract and at the same time get people preparing to hibernate.

'public health messages are often quite scary and difficult to understand and disempowering, how do we come up with something that's really simple and empowering?

'I remember just one morning thinking 'let's build bubbles' … and pitched it to the Ministry of Health team.'

They used the term 'bubble' for about a week before Jacinda adopted it in her 21 March address about the New Zealand government's Covid-19 Alert Levels.

Dr Tristram Ingham is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington.

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