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Australia’s Omicron problem

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 am, January 6th, 2022 - 132 comments
Categories: australian politics, covid-19, Environment, health, jacinda ardern, long covid, science, uk politics, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

Yesterday in Aotearoa New Zealand there were reported 17 new Covid community cases.  17.

Take a bow everyone.

Meanwhile in Australia there were more than 61,000 new cases reported and the actual number is likely to be much higher.  New South Wales is the state feeling the most pressure and reported over 35,000 new daily cases.  Rapid Antigen Tests are almost impossible to purchase and PCR tests are preserved for those likely to need to be hospitalised.  You get the feeling the spread of the disease is out of control and describing the situation as a shambolic mess is not a stretch.

There have been a couple of absolute clangers from Conservative Politicians which suggest, very strongly, that the policy is let it rip.

Former Prime Minister and budgie smuggler wearer Tony Abbott thought that the economic cost of saving lives was too high and some COVID-19 victims should have been left to die because of the economic cost.

And showing the right’s complete obsession with money Scotty from Advertising said that handing out free RAT tests was a bad thing because it would hurt retailers’ bottom lines.  It is a rare thing seeing a politician openly opposing a very basic health measure that even Boris Johnson implemented because a few retailers may miss out on some profit.

Australian GP Kerryn Phelps has roasted the Australian Authority’s response to Omicron.  This is as controlled a piece of outright angry writing as you are likely to ever read.  Clearly the replacement of Gladys Berejiklian by Dominic Perrottet as NSW premier was a retrograde step.  Gladys may have had a lot of faults, including an allegation of corruptly helping her boyfriend with the use of state funding for local infrastructure with what appears to be a clear desire to improve his election chances.  But at least she cared about her fellow Australians.  Interestingly Morrison has condemned her behaviour by proposing that she joins the Federal Parliament.

Phelps really does not hold back:

15 December 2021 was a pivotal moment in the pandemic.

The population was softened up with a false narrative that “Omicron causes mild disease”, “this could be the gift we have been waiting for”, and “this could end the pandemic”.

Perhaps the most insidious piece of messaging was the pronouncement that “everyone in Australia is going to get it”. In other words, why bother trying to prevent transmission?

In one previously unimaginable act, the premier, in a double act with Scott Morrison, announced a lifting of all restrictions including mandatory mask wearing and QR code check-ins.

Despite the warnings that the health system was under pressure and that party season was about to kick off, the message to the community was: “Go out there and spend, head to the pub and get back to normal.”

Meanwhile, Covid-infected NSW residents were expected to do their own testing, contact tracing, and home Covid care.

“Personal responsibility,” they said.

As the holiday period approached, many testing facilities would be closed down with little warning, leading to queues stretching for kilometres and waiting times blowing out to hours. In some cases, ill people waited in their cars overnight. Results were taking five or six days to be reported.

It ruined Christmas for many, who could not get a result in time for 25 December.

As case numbers exploded, a week after they were removed, QR codes and indoor mask wearing were reinstated – but the horse had bolted.

We were all told to go and get rapid antigen tests. The government resisted providing the tests for free as the UK had done, with Morrison saying he “did not want to undercut businesses”.

When a journalist specifically put to him that “not everyone can afford rapid antigen tests”, the PM casually replied: “Some people can, some people can’t.”

In another throwaway comment that will not age well, he said: “We’re at a stage of the pandemic where you just can’t make everything free.”

She concludes by saying this:

We are told by our leaders not to look at the case numbers, and to look at hospitalisations and ICU admissions instead. Meanwhile, hospitalisations and ICU admissions are escalating and many who would normally be treated in hospital are being told to manage their condition at home.

“Letting it rip” will not end the pandemic, nor will it help business or the economy. “Letting it rip” will not turn this into an endemic disease with herd immunity. There will be another wave of another variant.

In the absence of leadership from the government, people will need to increasingly look to credible medical leadership, as political leaders tell Australians to take matters into their own hands.

Elsewhere in the world Omicron continues to spread with an ease that takes your breath away.  South Africa’s infection rate has peaked but its death rate is increasing.  The United States has reported over a million cases in a day, and England and France have spiked over 200,000 daily cases.

It does appear that Omicron’s effects are milder, at least as far as the initial infection.  But as pointed out by Weka in this post the effects of long Covid are still not properly understood.

The biggest problem that the world faces is not indifference to mask wearing or vaccine deniers but Vaccination inequity and an indifference to medical and scientific advice.  As stated by the WHO’s Mike Ryan:

Time and time again governments have tried to get back to normal and have overshot that runway by opening up too early. Releasing restrictions too early. They haven’t really convinced people or empowered people to continue with these basic measures to reduce the risk of infection. I think that’s been a problem, the whole way through the pandemic.

I don’t mean getting rid of lockdowns. To me lockdowns have been last resort measures in most cases. Many countries in the East have managed to forgo lockdowns. But they’ve maintained quite strict measures in terms of mask wearing, in terms of crowds, in terms of testing and other stuff. So they’ve taken a much more comprehensive, layered strategy. They’ve maintained an intensity of control measures without ever going for full lockdown, without ever going for full open. They’ve taken the corner without under- or over-steering.  They’ve gotten people to buy into the idea that it’s going to take a long time and it’s going to have to be a sustained effort. I think if everyone had done that maybe we’d be in a better place.

But I think for me just personally as a public health physician, the biggest tragedy has been the vaccine equity issue. It really has been horrific. Horrific. The world just has not ever come to terms with the fact that vaccinating the most vulnerable people first would have been a better bet, not only epidemiologically but just from an equity perspective.

I know that there are many who see Omicron as a blessing and a chance for us to break clear of the shackles that Covid has put on the world during the past two years.  All that I would say however is that we should take a deep breath, keep the MIQ defences up and see what happens overseas.

And letting it rip may result in a further variation developing.  One with Omicron’s contagious nature but not its supposed benign effect.

And right now National and its cheer leaders including John Key, Ian Taylor and Russell Coutts not to mention Newstalk ZB’s bevy of opinionated idiots have been proven to be wrong, completely wrong, on the issue yet again.  Who can forget this clanger from Hosking?

It may be that Omicron is a very good thing.  But before betting my elderly and/or health compromised relatives futures on this or threatening the overwhelming of our health system I prefer that our Government takes a deep breath, maintains protective measures, and watches and learns from what is happening overseas.  Which it is doing.

132 comments on “Australia’s Omicron problem ”

  1. roy cartland 1

    *Kerryn Phelps smiley

    Australian GP Kerry Phelps has roasted the Australian Authority’s response….

    Thanks will fix – MS

  2. Reality 2

    Seem to recall National and/or Act advocating loudly that MIQ should be done away with. In view of Omicron's appearance worldwide that is dangerously irresponsible.

  3. But before betting my elderly and/or health compromised relatives futures on this or threatening the overwhelming of our health system I prefer that our Government takes a deep breath, maintains protective measures, and watches and learns from what is happening overseas. Which it is doing.

    What you are not running around with 'your hair on fire' being afraid and over-reacting while espousing a policy of under reacting? Me neither.

    While Omicron may be benign, relatively if you count only deaths and ICU/HDU admittings, the sheer numbers and infectious nature may cause problems in other spheres such as transport etc (eg the reported impact on Tube and over land rail services caused by workers who are sick at home – Transport for London.)

    Do people really believe masking and scanning are a real infringement on liberties? I guess living in a relatively compliant city, Wellington, where non maskers wearers are the exception that I have seen, we do not think it is. Not sure why Scomo felt it necessary to do away with these protections, apart from perhaps not engaging his brain cells.

    Watchful waiting is a good way to deal with this.

    • Bill 3.1

      “Do people really believe masking and scanning are a real infringement on liberties?”

      Mask wearing is theatre that I indulge in for the sake of "can't be bothered". It's not an infringement on liberty, so much as a marker of psychological harm already inflicted. What the actual fuck is it with people walking down the street or on the beach with a slap of cloth over their moosh, or playing a bizarre combination of the hokey pokey and musical chairs with their stand up/mask on, sit down/mask off rituals? (The clue is in my use of the world 'ritual')

      Scanning in does nothing of anything much on the medical front but, as I'm sure has been said elsewhere, the vaccine passport is a precursor for much more intrusive and deleterious forms of monitoring and social control. (ie – a "social credit" framework)

      • Robert Guyton 3.1.1

        "What the actual fuck is it with people walking down the street or on the beach with a slap of cloth over their moosh reproductive bits..?"

        We've been wearing cloth-coverings, at the bequest of society, for some time now.

        • Bill 3.1.1.1

          moosh – mooth – mouth. But I'm guessing you actually figured that out.

          And no, bar self appointed 'covid cops', no-one has been wearing a mask at the bequest of society. It's been at the 'bequest' of government and made on (at very best) flimsy medical and scientific grounds.

          It's a very good signifier to have people adopt such that they can display their "righteous true believer" status though. (Not a million miles away, psychologically, from carrying Mao's 'Little Red Book' around in ones top pocket )

          Throw in the asinine rituals, as mentioned above, and you have all the markings of a cult. Or have you never wondered why cults tend to create rather bizarre and utterly meaningless rituals for the adherents to indulge themselves in?

          • You_Fool 3.1.1.1.1

            Robert's point was that we were clothing mostly at the bequest of polite society… so adding a tiny but of cloth when in close proximity of others is hardly a great change…

            • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.1.1.1

              It was too. If we are going to rail against society's latest impositions, it's a good idea to think about what's already been imposed.

              Shaving, for one 🙂

            • Bill 3.1.1.1.1.2

              in close proximity of others – you

              &

              walking down the street or on the beach – me

              You see the difference there?

              For reference, the government order on mandating workplace roles stipulates masks for 'within 2 metres for 15 min' (in enclosed spaces).

        • Obtrectator 3.1.1.2

          Oh s–t, not another near-enough's-good-enough confusion of words. Not "bequest" – BEHEST.

        • Doogs 3.1.1.3

          Actually spelled “mush”

      • fender 3.1.2

        [deleted]

        • weka 3.1.2.1

          I deleted your comment. There are limits to attacking authors here. I probably would have moderated if it had been aimed a commenter too. It was a kind of flaming.

          • fender 3.1.2.1.1

            I fully understand, I shouldn't have hit the publish button. I lost my temper after reading the ridiculous effort from a pants on fire author saying mask wearing was of no use in stopping the spread of covid.

            [deleted]

            • weka 3.1.2.1.1.1

              I understand. I was surprised by that comment too.

              I deleted your last sentence. I think any personal comments should be avoided at the moment. Things are heated and so much can be misconstrued.

            • Bill 3.1.2.1.1.2

              mask wearing was of no use in stopping the spread of covid.

              Not what I said. Not what I've ever said. Here's my position, that's been consistent since the end of 2019 –

              If someone with infection is wearing a regular cloth mask, then the mask will reduce the volume of virus laden aerosol that’s entering the environment.

              But if someone with no infection expects a regular cloth mask to reduce their chances of breathing in virus laden aerosol, they're dreaming.

              • Tricledrown

                Why should doctors and nurses on the frontline bother wearing PPE.

                Just let them all catch covid and there will be nobody to treat those who have serious covid.

                • Bill

                  Are you seriously comparing a regular cloth mask (the likes of what you see people wearing in the street) and proper PPE?

              • Gabby

                They haven't been paying attention if they think that.

    • weka 3.2

      I hadn't realised they stopped mask and scanning mandates. That's just fucking weird. Most generous explanation is they got really bad advice about omicron and/or they're traumatised from the pandemic and don't know what to do. The other explanations are frightening.

      Lol hair on fire. Fear is a normal and appropriate response to situations that are dangerous. It's built into mammals via evolution. What we do with that fear matters, not that we feel it or respond to it.

      • adam 3.2.1

        Except we know that in this style of economy, consumer based. Fear is the best way to get people to spend money.

        Fear as a sociological construct is also a the best tool with which to manipulate the population.

        And fear if run for a long enough, makes jingoistic drum beating mundane and acceptable.

        Constantly running on fear is very bad thing to do, we become pliable as individual and communities. And as our corporate elects have proven over and over they are not to be trusted. I worry what stupid shitfuckery they have up their sleeves next, in the name of profit.

        On a side note – this is the only media piece I've seen which says we should not let the corporations run health care. And it's the mouth piece from the Chinese government – dark bloody days we are in.

        https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3162208/omicron-good-signs-sinopharm-and-sinovac-shots-fend-severe

        • weka 3.2.1.1

          Not quite following that last bit, do you see the MoH as a corporation?

          Am also curious if you see the NZ government as inducing fear via covid response or messaging in order to… gain compliance? I thought they'd been pretty good at balancing information and seriousness with presenting that in ways that didn't freak people out more than they already were.

          I think there's a deeper issue here, which is about how people in NZ experience security. For some covid is the first major challenge to that. For others it's an overload on top of a life that's already too stressed. For people that don't have the skills to manage in a different way, then fear pushes them towards security from authority. A known dynamic (eg Chch people voting National after the quakes despite National being useless in their response).

          Thing that pisses me off is how quickly and far the left/progressives/liberals went for authoritarianism. Labour had a hard choice to make when delta arrived: risk it becoming widespread in NZ and us having a shit show like the UK, or put pressure on people to get vaccinated. The work mandates are probably a necessary evil, but fuck Labour for how they did that. We could have helped people shift jobs and careers, and pulled together. Fuck Ardern for her callous two NZ comment too.

          I don't think there's anything new about this. We've been losing community to neoliberalism for a long time, and if NZ actually gave a shit we'd have solved the housing crisis by now. But imagine all that and covid running free in the community. The whole thing reinforces for me that we have to rebuild community, in better ways, and that this is where people will ultimately find a security that enables better responses to things they are scared of.

          Not sure we need inducements to spend money, we're neck deep in that ideology already.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    New Zealand 17 new Covid community cases.. in Australia more than 61,000

    Cricket! Oz 61,000 beating NZ only 17!! Write that headline & email it to the OZ msm networks! They don't get covid – too complex – but they know how to write up cricket as a headline news story. We just need to send them this simple framing.

    devil

  5. I'm forever grateful to the Labour government for the caring manner they have taken towards the people of New Zealand during this pandemic.

    So glad they listen to science and not rich pricks in National who are all about the money.

    Let's keep moving forward with Labour

  6. Treetop 6

    false narrative, I thought this when I heard the Governor of New York say on Aljazeera TV that children at school have a 1% risk of catching Covid and in the home a 15 % risk. This was from the Delta strain. Infection rates in schools are unknown with Omicron.

    Australian schools are currently shut for the summer holidays. Even with up to date data the fallout from Omicron has the potential to have unintended consequences which are untested.

    • weka 6.1

      I wonder if the school holidays in NZ is part of why our case rate is so low.

      • Treetop 6.1.1

        Schools in England and the US will explode with Omicron within a week. In NZ community rates for Delta will climb after 10 January as people will start returning to work. If Omicron takes hold in NZ I doubt NZ schools will open in February.

        NZ EDs will not cope with Omicron as they are already too stretched. I tend to look at the whole problem and then find solutions to lessen the worst. Staying well or coping with Covid is going to be about not stetching yourself too far and having reliable people to help.

        There needs to be a contingency for single parents when they become unwell.

        Weka have you been following the Canadian settlement for children taken into care? Trauma leads to poverty, just like chronic illness does.

        I am without the internet a mix up a month ago.

        • weka 6.1.1.1

          Staying well or coping with Covid is going to be about not stetching yourself too far and having reliable people to help.

          This is very good advice. It's a big gap in our pandemic response, how to prepare. I know people are doing this individually, and DHBs seem to be gearing up for this, but has there been any public health messaging on how to look after oneself and family and how to prepare for that? Had a look on the MoH website and it seems to be all about not spreading covid to others, bugger all about how to manage the illness itself.

          • Matiri 6.1.1.1.1

            This is the MoH Covid site with relevant self care page.

            https://covid19.govt.nz/prepare-and-stay-safe/be-prepared-for-covid-19/

            Our local medical centre (NMDHB) distributed this info into all our mailboxes a few weeks ago.

            • weka 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Thank Maitri. Good to hear the DHB is being proactive. Have you seen any other messaging about this?

              (there are a lot of privileges on that page, a conversation for another time).

              • Matiri

                Yes I have, in several places from memory (I have always been proactive about my health and try to think ahead and be prepared, Covid being no exception).
                PS I also follow the Unite against COVID-19 facebook page which has some useful stuff.

            • mauī 6.1.1.1.1.2

              Wow, this looks just like my civil defence "how to survive an earthquake" guide. lol

              • Robert Guyton

                Warning New Zealanders about earthquakes is fear-mongering though, isn't it, mauī?

                Encouraging us all to stock-up with provisions is playing right into the hands of Big Food and the torch-making barons.

                I've heard of a small group of geologists who say there are no earthquakes; never have been, never will be!

                You can't discount these people; they ignored Copernicus, after all!

                /sarc

                • Julian Richards

                  …. most have big, unsightly lumps on the back of their heads, use kittens as door stops and (gasp) don’t recycle. Should we tolerate them?

                  *sarc

                  Good one Robert.

                • mauī

                  Something tells me, a plan to get me through a potentially serious disease should look nothing like a natural disaster plan. But here we are, I guess I'm just being illogical…

  7. RedLogix 7

    It will be worth following these three nations to see what happens.

  8. Bill 8

    It's irrelevant from a public health response perspective whether there are 10 new infections or a 1000 new infections if those infections are mild and not requiring a response from health care services (ie – hospitals).

    Unfortunately, the 'go to' has been to fudge the numbers, such that infection numbers get counted in with case numbers (- ie, those instances of infection requiring hospital treatment), and so-called public health measures then initiated off the back of an exaggerated picture of seriousness.

    Last June, Uttar Pradesh distributed cheap 'home kits' to all the people in the state and, unlike neighbouring states that "stuck with the program", brought it's Delta outbreak clattering down, even though it's vaccination coverage was somewhere around 20%. In a sane world, that would have led to headlines and perhaps even a switch of public health policy in at least some western countries. Instead, what we got was an army of "fact checker" organisations outright rubbishing any suggested efficacy of the home kits and a huge propaganda campaign explicitly targeting the drugs used.

    Then Japan did likewise during it's Delta surge – allowing for the use of ivermectin preceded a precipitous drop in the number of infections. And again an army of "fact checker" organisations blanketed the web with denunciations of the supposed claim (a claim never made by the way) that the Japanese government had authorised the use of ivermectin, and so by extension they were able to mute and rubbish any discussion around the efficacy of ivermectin.

    Apparently, Japan's numbers had dropped because the virus had 'decided' to spontaneously auto-destruct' or (another mainstream contention) there is a peculiarity in the genetic make-up of Japanese people (the X factor).

    Anyway.The infection fatality rate for Delta was 0.05% for working age people. The infection fatality rate for Omicron is even lower.

    We do not have the medical information around long covid for either Delta or Omicron.

    The rate of hospitalisation for Omicron is much lower than for Delta, even though, and this can't be overstated, we are not differentiating between people admitted to hospital and receiving treatment because of Covid (either strain), and those in hospital receiving treatment for other reasons who incidentally return a +ve test result for Covid.

    The NZ government has had over two years to beef up the health care system. What has it done, bar fire a number of nurses and specialists because they didn't "double vaccinate"?

    The public health response has had two years to message around the benefits or lessening risk for people who optimise their immune response (even free stuff like Vit D, exercise etc) – but again, nothing bar "2 shots for summer" gunk.

    Will NZ hospitals be overwhelmed because of isolation requirements for any staff returning a +ve PCR test? Probably. It's been happening elsewhere, and this world is now marked by the horizontal integration of Big Pharma, Big Tech, Major Media and government, such that everything progresses in lock step – right over you, and right over me, and without a care for either of us.

    People could have and should have received treatment for their illness – not left to turn blue at the lips before being whisked off to hospital for late stage 'treatment' of their illness.

    I wonder when more than a minority of people are going to give themselves a shake and ask what the fuck is going on? I know the direction of travel is all one way…no-one is traveling towards the fold of the official messaging coming from those horizontally integrated concentrations of 'authority'.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      Instead, what we got was an army of "fact checker" organisations

      If anything this pandemic has exposed the idiocy of outsourcing our discrimination to 'approved organisations'. Sure they might be mildly useful to sift out the obvious fabrications and delusions, but they only have to censor one critical truth – and the entire justification for their existence goes down the toilet.

      Not to mention the ancient 'who guards the guards' problem.

    • weka 8.2

      It's irrelevant from a public health response perspective whether there are 10 new infections or a 1000 new infections if those infections are mild and not requiring a response from health care services (ie – hospitals).

      That's you being in denial of long covid, again.

      People who have mild illnesses still need time off work, so there's the impact mentioned in the post about services and workplaces.

      There's also a progression of covid for some people where the infection seems mild and then boom, it goes mad and the person ends up in hospital. People need to be encouraged to take a positive case seriously, stay home, rest, look after themselves for the whole length of the infection.

      All of those things matter in public health terms. There are more.

      Advocating that health care workers go to work with a highly transmissible disease that has the potential to make sick, disable or even kill vulnerable people (you know, the ones in hospitals, and their fellow workers) is both extremely weird and extremely ignorant of what public health is.

      Authoritarianism was rising precovid, and it was always going to be something we would have to face given the climate/eco crises. Covid gives us a practice run. Libertarianism won't save us from that because the issues are collective not personal freedom.

      • Bill 8.2.1

        You're making things up, essentially derailing and casting unfounded aspersions again Weka.

        Anyway. I'm limiting my response to this – A public health response to actual cases instead of number of infections isn't anything to do with workers staying home because of not feeling well.

        • weka 8.2.1.1

          There's nothing made up about what I said. Unlike you I'm willing to clarify and back up every sentence I just wrote. I can see why you don't like to clarify, there are a lot of really good critical thinkers here who are practiced in pulling apart people's arguments to see if they work. Yours work from a libertarian perspective, they don't from a public health perspective. I just keep pointing that out.

          A public health response to actual cases instead of number of infections isn't anything to do with workers staying home because of not feeling well.

          that's a non-sequitur. You claim that public health responses don't need to take infections into account, only serious infections. This is a patent nonsense if the goal is to limit spread. If I'm wrong and have misunderstood your point, then it's on you to clarify.

          • Bill 8.2.1.1.1

            You didn't engage with much of anything I actually wrote. I actually wonder if you read the comment, or if you just jumped off at the first para and started into stabbing your keyboard. Seriously.

            Anyway. If I might add to RedLogix's comment below – actual illness should be treated, whether that's long covid or mild infection.

            That said, I don't really see a point in caution around Omicron and borders. Delta is nastier. Get the most vulnerable jabbed if that's what they want. Possibly clear the system of Delta cases if possible. And if "pingdemic" is of concern, (and that will happen anyway if it's going to happen) then maybe we could open one island, while banning inter- island travel, and possibly use the other as a reservoir such that some portion of health workers from the "still closed" island could be redeployed to alleviate pressures if necessary.

            Track and trace becomes absolutely obsolete when there's widespread community spread (not to mention a probable reservoir in other mammals resident in NZ) , and the government said some while back that elimination was no longer the goal.

            • weka 8.2.1.1.1.1

              I read the original comment. The first paragraph wasn't a lead-in to explain why it was useful, it was setting up the foundation for the rest. Which is why I focused on it, because it's problematic from a public health perspective.

              Your second paragraph,

              Unfortunately, the 'go to' has been to fudge the numbers, such that infection numbers get counted in with case numbers (- ie, those instances of infection requiring hospital treatment), and so-called public health measures then initiated off the back of an exaggerated picture of seriousness.

              ignores long covid, ignores the issues of transmission and why that is a serious problem, and ignores hospital overrun. All well examined and discussed issues in the past few years, although long covid has been much less discussed and in select places.

              I get that you have this theory: omicron is mild, it naturally replaces delta, we should encourage that to happen. I can see how you got to that, via reading abstract data out of the context of public health, and I can see how that and your world view (libertarian anarchist with a strong concern about government overreach and rising authoritarianism around govt/tech/business) merge to the position you hold.

              I also see that when that gets critiqued in detail there is little response eg despite you saying you are aware of long covid, you still seem to not be taking it into account in any way at all in your analysis or argument.

              I skimmed the rest of your original comment, and ignored the bits that were assertions without back up. I chose not to respond to the various pot shot reckons because there were better things to focus on.

              • Bill

                I skimmed ..

                lol 'nuff said – 'cept I don't quite get how you could have “chosen not to respond” to bits you now dismissively categorise as "pot shot reckons" because "better things to focus on" if "skinmmed". There was only one “I reckon” in the comment, and that was this –

                “People could have and should have received treatment for their illness – not left to turn blue at the lips before being whisked off to hospital for late stage ‘treatment’ of their illness.”

                Anyways…

                • weka

                  maybe your skimming skills aren't as good as mine /shrug.

                  It's irrelevant from a public health response perspective whether there are 10 new infections or a 1000 new infections if those infections are mild and not requiring a response from health care services (ie – hospitals).

                  Already addressed this.

                  Unfortunately, the 'go to' has been to fudge the numbers, such that infection numbers get counted in with case numbers (- ie, those instances of infection requiring hospital treatment), and so-called public health measures then initiated off the back of an exaggerated picture of seriousness.

                  and this.

                  Last June, Uttar Pradesh distributed cheap 'home kits' to all the people in the state and, unlike neighbouring states that "stuck with the program", brought it's Delta outbreak clattering down, even though it's vaccination coverage was somewhere around 20%. In a sane world, that would have led to headlines and perhaps even a switch of public health policy in at least some western countries. Instead, what we got was an army of "fact checker" organisations outright rubbishing any suggested efficacy of the home kits and a huge propaganda campaign explicitly targeting the drugs used.

                  No idea what the home kits are, moving on.

                  Then Japan did likewise during it's Delta surge – allowing for the use of ivermectin preceded a precipitous drop in the number of infections. And again an army of "fact checker" organisations blanketed the web with denunciations of the supposed claim (a claim never made by the way) that the Japanese government had authorised the use of ivermectin, and so by extension they were able to mute and rubbish any discussion around the efficacy of ivermectin.

                  Apparently, Japan's numbers had dropped because the virus had 'decided' to spontaneously auto-destruct' or (another mainstream contention) there is a peculiarity in the genetic make-up of Japanese people (the X factor).

                  Way too much assertion with zero back up. Why you believe that people are going to engage with such stories, especially when below you just throw out stuff like how the government didn't offer any support to people at home with covid is beyond me. Or how masks and 2m distancing are stupid. You probably have a good point to make here, but I honestly cannot be bothered engaging with another round of 'I don't have to cite, and I'm not going to explain or clarify'.

                  Anyway.The infection fatality rate for Delta was 0.05% for working age people. The infection fatality rate for Omicron is even lower.

                  We do not have the medical information around long covid for either Delta or Omicron.

                  That's right. So given that, opening up everything and letting covid run free is highly risky.

                  The rate of hospitalisation for Omicron is much lower than for Delta, even though, and this can't be overstated, we are not differentiating between people admitted to hospital and receiving treatment because of Covid (either strain), and those in hospital receiving treatment for other reasons who incidentally return a +ve test result for Covid.

                  And in a number of weeks will have solid data upon which to better assess NZ's situation in the context of omicron.

                  The NZ government has had over two years to beef up the health care system. What has it done, bar fire a number of nurses and specialists because they didn't "double vaccinate"?

                  Citation needed for the government having done nothing.

                  The public health response has had two years to message around the benefits or lessening risk for people who optimise their immune response (even free stuff like Vit D, exercise etc) – but again, nothing bar "2 shots for summer" gunk.

                  Yes, but as I've already explained a) it's very hard for an organistion like the MoH to do this, and b) it should be on top of our existing response, not replacing things like vaccination, border control, and masks.

                  This is not the first time that you've argued personal responsibility via self care. That's not an adequate public health response if you are also arguing against vaccination etc.

                  Will NZ hospitals be overwhelmed because of isolation requirements for any staff returning a +ve PCR test? Probably.

                  That and this thing called covid. But make the argument for why… ah fuck it, it's already been addressed, this is boring and stupid. Public health aren't going to let staff with a serious, infectious disease come to work if they can help it, it's just a nonsense.

                  It's been happening elsewhere, and this world is now marked by the horizontal integration of Big Pharma, Big Tech, Major Media and government, such that everything progresses in lock step – right over you, and right over me, and without a care for either of us.

                  yeah, that was happening long before covid.

                  People could have and should have received treatment for their illness – not left to turn blue at the lips before being whisked off to hospital for late stage 'treatment' of their illness.

                  Random reckon, but stupid as. If you really believe that this is all that the NZ government has done, then you're an idiot.

                  I wonder when more than a minority of people are going to give themselves a shake and ask what the fuck is going on? I know the direction of travel is all one way…no-one is traveling towards the fold of the official messaging coming from those horizontally integrated concentrations of 'authority'.

                  Yes, we're all sheeple, baaaa.

                  This is why I skimmed and didn't bother.

                  • Bill

                    That seems to illustrate an inability to rationally assess or assimilate information and engage in reasoned debate.

                    A simple google search on most of the things you apparently know nothing about, and therefor dismiss as "stories" (made up?), would have given you all the background information you apparently require.

                    I'd provide a pile of links here, but when it comes down to information versus delusion, delusion tends to just keep rolling on – blanking, dismissing, minimising and mischaracterising any information or fact that might run counter to any sense of meaning that's derived from being in that state.

                    That said, and on a positive note, I guess your final words just might be a sign of nascent self reflection and recognition.

                    (quote)

                    Yes, we're all sheeple, baaaa.

                    This is why I skimmed and didn't bother.

                    • Tricledrown

                      Your claim Japan was or is using ivermectin is pure BS.The Japanese govt has made a clear statement that ivermectin is a dangerous drug and has no efficacy with covid 19.

                      Bills ivermectin being used in Japan wasSpread by a right wing conspiracy theorist who has done serious jail time.

                      FFS how much conspiracy garbage is allowed to be pushed by Bill. Without question.

                      Looks like this forum is being swamped by Bill and his unsubstantiated half truths and complete lies.

                      If I get a ban for this fine someone in charge needs to put an end to the wild claims Bill continually makes.

                      [RL: It is your obdurate refusal to offer any cites for your contentious claims of fact that caused the ban. And even in this comment you offer nothing to back up what you’re saying. It is this pattern of commenting that will not be allowed to continue indefinitely.]

                    • Robert Guyton

                      In defence/support of Trickledown, I find Bill's taciturn instruction to "Google it" when asked for supportive evidence, frustrating. Weka too, challenges this behaviour, "Way too much assertion with zero back up."

                      Trickledown seems to be mirroring Bill's approach in order to show it's inappropriateness.

                      The "Japan/Ivermectin" claim, for example, is one I'm very interested to hear more about, from Bill, but don't want to have to look it up, given the apparent paucity of information (Trickledown) and the usual contradictory evidence that presents itself with most Google searches.

        • RedLogix 8.2.1.2

          Bill – I read both yours and weka's comments above and agreed with almost everything both of you have said. I'd suggest you're both speaking to different aspects of the pandemic and both should be read as complements.

          And sure I get it that there's a fair bit of unspoken tetchiness going on here – but there is way more common ground than not. In summary:

          • The fear based media messaging needs to end. I agree a lot of data has been misused and the public discourse has not inspired trust.
          • Public health policy has been narrowly focussed on vaccines and lockdowns, while other useful tools have been inexplicably neglected
          • Omicron has changed the narrative around ICU cases and deaths a lot, but it's exceedingly high R value ensures there will be almost impossible to 'flatten the curve'. Systems will for a period be overloaded.
          • The curious origin and nature of Omicron, plus it's longer term consequences are uncertain. For this reason there is no particular urgency for NZ to open up to it.

          Does that hit the main points of agreement?

          • weka 8.2.1.2.1

            Yes, and the devil is in the details.

            • The fear based media messaging needs to end. I agree a lot of data has been misused and the public discourse has not inspired trust.

            The obvious problems with outlets like the Herald aside, NZ media coverage has been good at giving the public the information. The government pressers have been useful too. We also have reasonable good watchdog type orgs and individuals who routinely critique media and government approaches.

            Bill put up an absolutely nonsense tweet the other day that relied in an anonymous website running dodgy as fuck lines. The tweet was pure manipulation via misleading what a public figure said. /shrug

            • Public health policy has been narrowly focussed on vaccines and lockdowns, while other useful tools have been inexplicably neglected

            In NZ, a major part of our success has been testing and contact tracing. We also have been pretty good at messaging and adopting masks, distancing and hygiene.

            Other useful tools are restricted by the fact that we're in the middle of a pandemic and public health response is by necessity conservative. The MoH can't start advocating ivermectin, it has to wait until there are solid medical trials available upon which to base public health responses (as opposed to internet reckons about what 'works'). I think they could move on the Vitamin D issue given the body of evidence, but I also think other parts of the system eg GPs could move on this too.

            • Omicron has changed the narrative around ICU cases and deaths a lot, but it's exceedingly high R value ensures there will be almost impossible to 'flatten the curve'. Systems will for a period be overloaded.

            Flattening the curve is not an on/off thing, there are gradations. NZ has repeatedly exceeded expectations of what is possible. Remember in the spring when everyone was saying we couldn't get to 90%+ vax? I think when/if omicron arrives we will have to see if we can adapt around that. I expect there to be pressure on the health system, but I don't see why the curve can't be flattened to some extent.

            • The curious origin and nature of Omicron, plus it's longer term consequences are uncertain. For this reason there is no particular urgency for NZ to open up to it.

            Agreed. Very early days. We are incredibly lucky to let the rest of the world go ahead. The risk here is how we manage in the meantime. I'm a fan of adapting for the long term rather than holding our breath because it will be over soon.

            Beyond that, Bill has just said that masks and scanning are a nonsense. This is why I will continue to point out that he just doesn't understand what public health is. If the base of his argument is that omicron is less harmful then what we are doing currently, I will point to the unknown nature of long covid, how omicron is playing out, and the risk of future variants with unknown consequences. Long covid alone is enough to warrant being extremely cautious about our next move.

            • fender 8.2.1.2.1.1

              You have been MVP at TS lately Weka, thank you for your common sense approach!

              • Shanreagh

                Agree with this. True MS & Weka are shining lights of moderation and good sense.

                Hopefully there is no call to follow the open up and be damned Aussie crowd at this point in time. Make haste slowly and watchful waiting should be the by lines for our approach along with adapting for the long term as Weka has said. .

            • Bill 8.2.1.2.1.2

              I will continue to point out that he just doesn't understand what public health is.

              ffs! I disagree with your assessment or assessments. That doesn't mean I don't understand what public health is or, more to the point, what a Public Health response looks like.

              We haven't had one.

              People getting covid should have received treatment for their symptoms. That didn't happen and isn't happening. Instead, mild cases were treated on a "wait and see" basis.

              A singular focus on forcing a population to "uptake" on experimental medication when alternatives were out there and known about is straight up malfeasance.

              As a bare minimum, Vit D message should have been hitting hard since 'day one'. (The knowledge on the efficacy of Vit D and lung inflammation is 'old hat').

              I could go on, but the day beckons…

              p.s. the tweet from Max Blumenthal was amusingly framed and "on the money". Who the fuck cares if the interview Trudeau gave had been lifted from some obscure Quebecois morning breakfast TV channel? He said what he said.

              • weka

                I think your libertarian world view makes it hard for you to understand that public health is primarily about protecting the public, not a set of individuals. Individual health comes into it, but the public comes first.

                Yes we disagree on a number of points, that's now what I am pointing to when I say the stuff about public health.

                eg the vaccine will harm some individuals. From a public health perspective this is unfortunate but acceptable because public health in this context means:

                • limiting spread of a contagious disease
                • keeping death and disability rates as low as possible across the population
                • protecting the health care system

                The arguments you make don't suggest alternatives that can do those things. You simply think that vaccination is wrong. You might believe that there are alternatives to the covid vaccine, but from a public health perspective there aren't (there are of course things we could be doing in addition to vaccination that we aren't currently eg Vit D supplementation)

                I've explained why that is. Afaik you didn't address the points I raised (but I may have missed replies). So I assume you either don't understand the explanations or believe we should take the risk and suck up the collateral damage anyway.

                • Bill

                  The response we have all been subjected to has been far more a political one, than a public health one.

                  Public Health predicated on simply and exclusively pushing experimental medicine that is neither safe nor effective (as per the the propaganda) is public health malfeasance.

                  And note, that is not (as per your baseless assertion) You (ie, me) simply think that vaccination is wrong. I've never said that, nor implied that in any comment I've made either on this site, nor on any other platform, or even in private.

                  But back to the malfeasance that's been underscored by denying us , the people of NZ, access to treatments that are known to work, and by the mysterious lack of public health messaging around such simple and effective measures as Vit D.

                  Public Health would absolutely entail treating those who become infected instead of executing a "wait and see" policy of isolation with no treatment.

                  Neither masks nor tracing nor mandates have much to do with a comprehensive and robust public health response.

                  The cloth masks in general use are only minimally effective for instances where the wearer not contracting the virus is concerned

                  The "2 metre" rule is entirely arbitrary.

                  The mandates (ie – the Government Orders) have no medical or scientific basis.

                  Contact tracing only makes sense when elimination is the policy (abandoned) and a contagious agent is not generally present in the community.

                  • mpledger

                    The "2 metre" rule is not entirely arbitrary. It's an objective rule applied to a risk situation. More than 2 metres is safer, less than metres is riskier but the govt "chose" 2 metres because at that point the risk is low and it's an easy distance to comprehend – a bit longer than the height of the average man.

                    There are a lot of objective rules that works for the average case but don't work for particular cases, especially around age.

                    This video is QI

                    • Bill

                      Funny.

                    • RedLogix

                      So I had a bit of a think about this.

                      For all fuels there is a specific stochiometric ratio range of fuel to air that is necessary for ignition. Above or below this range there will be no ignition.

                      Without the mask the spray can nozzle is designed to direct the fluid droplets in a fairly tight spray pattern, ensuring the fuel will go further and when it arrives at the lit torch there is enough concentration to meet the ignition conditions needed.

                      The mask however will act as a diffuser breaking up the nozzle pattern, and cause the ether vapour to escape the mask in all directions, greatly reducing the amount that reaches the torch and likely well below the concentration necessary for ignition – at least until the nozzle/mask is really close.

                      But it's funny all the same cheeky

                    • joe90

                      Ill fitting surgical v a well fitted N95.

                    • Tricledrown []

                      A properly worn mask especially the n95 masks which have shown a 99% efficacy rate worn with the nose clip tightened properly. Maybe why health authorities use them along with face shields.

                      I used n95 masks doing building work and it's a waste of time unless these masks are worn tightly around the face sanding dust asbestos,cement saw dust.will get in otherwise.

                    • Ad

                      Excellent

                      Went down well with the nephews

                  • Gabby

                    What is this 'experimental medicine that is neither safe nor effective'?

                    • Bill

                      Government messaging has been a mantra of "safe and effective"

                      No medicine is 100% safe. m-RNA injections have attracted more reports to VAERs (Vaccines Adverse Events Register) than all other vaccines of the past 30 years combined and, the data on medium/long term effects doesn’t exist because they did not undergo the regular suite of clinical trials that generally apply to new drugs (trials are on-going).

                      &

                      Until the dictionary definition was recently changed, the m-RNA injections were ineffective enough that they didn't meet the definition of vaccine.

            • RedLogix 8.2.1.2.1.3

              it has to wait until there are solid medical trials available upon which to base public health responses

              Small quibble. A few other nations didn't wait and it will be interesting to follow what happens.

              And two years ago I would have agreed that RCT's were the definition of 'solid medical trial' – but since then I've seen their flaws and how easily they can be misused. If nothing else in order to do them properly you need to conduct them with a lot of people, over a decent period of time. And in a fast moving pandemic where all the key parameters keep changing it's almost impossible to derive a decent signal using this method.

              Indeed most knowledge is not obtained by RCT's – they really are a special case of Casual Inference that only work well in some very specific circumstances – yet the the lay public has been largely convinced that they're the only legitimate method, and that misconception well suits the large corporates and govts who are the only entities typically able to pay for them.

              But the majority of medical knowledge has been hard won by clinicians working with actual patients – who will use a variety of other logical tools to understand what they're seeing. The famous Bradford-Hill Criteria being one strong example.

              • weka

                Hmm, correlation/causation re the small quibble. But sure, as other countries develop practice and figure out what works, out of necessity, this will influence the body of knowledge that builds up over time.

                I've known about the limitations of RCTs and peer review for a long time. Medical journals have been publishing editorials and articles on this for at least a decade. And I agree that doctors play an integral part on how medical treatments develop and are adopted, including off label.

                But, the MoH can't experiment with the NZ public in that way. We don't have the imperative of necessity that places like India do, and taking risks with public health on the basis of early rather than established knowledge is counter to good public health.

                This is the stuff Bill just doesn't get. His argument rests on vaccination being seen as a worse evil than experimenting with the public in an extremely volatile situation. But vaccination has been an incredibly successful public health initiative for hundreds of years. I haven't seen his rationale for why the covid vax is bad, but obviously there is resistance to the mandates (understandably) and it's hard to accommodate vax good/mandate bad narratives.

                • RedLogix

                  We don't have the imperative of necessity that places like India do, and taking risks with public health on the basis of early rather than established knowledge is counter to good public health.

                  I agree NZ's isolation, low case numbers and relative wealth gave us the luxury of not needing to defy the 'only the vaccines will save us' narrative. But what if it turns out this 'established knowledge' was wrong, and that most of the deaths globally were avoidable?

                  What will be their defense then?

                  • weka

                    Can't really comment on that Red, because you have a very cursory handwave to something that I don't know the detail of. Give me some details and I'll probably form an opinion on the hindsight aspect.

                    • weka

                      There's some kind of irony here because I've spent many a year arguing against the position that science can be trusted because even when it fucks up it rectifies. So thalidomide babies were terrible, but science was ok because they figured it out and changed.

                      We know that public health and mainstream medicine is very slow at adapting around new ideas that challenge orthodoxy. Look at how long it's taken to address the fat/cholesterol hypothesis. I'm not saying it's right, I'm saying that public health is conservative because that's how it works. If we want radical change, we'd have to accept more fuck ups.

                • Bill

                  This is the stuff Bill just doesn't get. His argument rests on vaccination being seen as a worse evil than experimenting with the public in an extremely volatile situation.

                  What is it about the experimental status of m-RNA injections that you're failing to grasp? They are most assuredly not the same as other vaccines. They are novel tech – basically a form of gene therapy (almost elegant) that people have never been exposed to before.

                  Off label use of existing medicines that we often have mountains of safety data for is the bog standard and responsible 'go to' in medicine when a novel virus (like Covid or HIV) comes on the scene.

                  • weka

                    What is it about the experimental status of m-RNA injections that you're failing to grasp? They are most assuredly not the same as other vaccines. They are novel tech – basically a form of gene therapy (almost elegant) that people have never been exposed to before.

                    Even if that were all true (and I can't be bothered arguing the semantics over gene therapy today), that doesn't address the issue of which is worse: pandemic without vax or pandemic with a vax that has side effects.

                    Unless you are arguing a precautionary principle.

                    Also, are you saying you'd be in favour of a vaccine that didn't use mRNA tech?

                    Off label use of existing medicines that we often have mountains of safety data for is the bog standard and responsible 'go to' in medicine when a novel virus (like Covid or HIV) comes on the scene.

                    Please give three examples of where off-label use has been effective in a large scale, highly transmissible illness.

                    • adam

                      Also, are you saying you'd be in favour of a vaccine that didn't use mRNA tech?

                      I would say that, I'm liking what I see out of the Cuban vaccine. The fact that both Vietnam and Venezuela both have curbed run away Sars Cov-19 with this vaccine, early treatment, and actively promoting VitD. Is great.

                      Mexico has also adopted the vaccine, and more places around central and south America are looking into it.

                      Our rush to back corporations, and treat them like gods is sickening. Even the inventor of mRNA vaccines is calling for caution in there use, especially boosters – as we would be moving into extremely radical experimental territory at that point.

                    • gsays []

                      Hi Adam, can you point out where I could read up a little more about your third paragraph? (Caution around boosters).

                    • Cricklewood

                      What I think has happened to a degree with off label drugs to some extent is that highly qualified physicians have used some with good success in treating Covid specifically the serious disease that follows infection. These drugs have then been held up as silver bullets by those against mRna and then the treatments and doctors talking about them have been derided.

                      These treatments have a good grounding in that have been used to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome among other things. They work by targeting symptoms which quickly lead to worse outcomes severe inflammation as an example.

                      It's become so polarized that neither side is prepared to listen to the other.

                    • roy cartland

                      (trying to reply to adam above)

                      Tautoko that. I wish we were more friendly with Cuba for this reason.

                  • KJT

                    The cognitive dissonance required to be anti the COVID vaccines, while advocating for, "other treatments" that, in reality, had much less comprehensive trials and research than the COVID vaccines, is mind boggling.

            • Patricia Bremner 8.2.1.2.1.4

              I appreciate all the mahi you and Micky do on this topic. However I could not locate the PM's comment on "Two New Zealands" that made you so angry Weka.

              • weka

                It was near the start of an interview she gave a few months ago, it's a video. It's been posted a few times on TS, I'll see if I can find it.

              • weka

                Not sure if this is the whole thing, but bear in mind that the issue here isn't the rationales (which I mostly agree with).

                Also bear in mind that the first thing she talks about is vaccinated people needing to feel safe from unvaccinated people, despite the known fact that the vaccines don't guarantee no transmission from vaccinated individuals i.e. vaccinated people are also unsafe to some degree.

                I guess it was good that she said it out loud, so we know, but she's still basically strongly endorsing two New Zealands.

                • Patricia Bremner

                  It is open to that interpretation I guess. You are very fair Weka. I did not hear that but I see what you are pointing to Cheers.

      • DukeEll 8.2.2

        Long Covid may be a thing, but at some point society needs to progress past covid being a hurdle requiring massive state intervention.

        I haven't read all your utterances on this issue as I've been on call since everyone else decided their beach time is more important than mine, but for you, where is that point? how far must society and the government go to protect the unwell in your opinion?

        • weka 8.2.2.1

          don't you mean protect the well from becoming unwell?

          • DukeEll 8.2.2.1.1

            No, I don’t. And that’s a weak answer.

            im not scared of covid. I’ve done everything asked of me to stay safe, so I now refuse to live in fear. I’ve reached my point and I think further government measures will do more harm than good.

            So what is the point weka, where you accept covid is endemic and massive government intervention does more harm than good?

            • weka 8.2.2.1.1.1

              irrespective of your personal preparation, the government response is to protect everyone, directly and indirectly.

              So what is the point weka, where you accept covid is endemic and massive government intervention does more harm than good?

              Two things. One, we need a better understanding of omicron, and long covid.

              Two, we have more options than just carry on like now vs let it rip. For instance, if we were to do another year of how we are currently, what things would reduce the harm from that?

              • DukeEll

                Let her rip vs rip van winkle.

                Never a middle ground for you is there weka? A milder version of covid becomes dominant and all your chat is now “long covid”

                how long is too long? Seems never long enough for some

                • weka

                  Are you drunk? I literally just said there are more than two options.

                  Yes, if omicron turns out to be a milder version and scientists are confidence that we won't have more variants that are worse than omicron, then of course we will adapt around that. But we have to take long covid into account as well.

                  Or are you suggesting we let an infectious disease run free in NZ that gives a lot of people permanent disability?

                  • DukeEll

                    Are you drunk? who said let it run free.

                    we've already got pretty stringent requirements around tracing, mask wearing and vaccination. let's keep all those but let New Zealanders back into New Zealand at least. and let New Zealand residents out to see who they need to see in the world without going in fear they may never come back.

                    the cure is worse than the disease now. It's down right inhumane to prevent families and loved ones, who have a right to come home and to travel without impediment, from being together.

                    Holding on to the lifeboat of "long covid" to justify this inhuman position is simply selfish.

                    • weka

                      I'm not doing that, please stop making shit up.

                      I've long said that the government should sort out MiQ and the lottery system. It's bizarre they haven't.

                      But anyone returning should still go through MiQ. That protects all of us, even the ones who believe they don't need protecting.

                    • weka

                      As for long covid, I didn't make it up. It's a real thing and health authorities are concerned about it and we don't know enough yet. You appear to be saying let's not worry about it. Whatever is irritating you, please stop having a go at me about it. Argue the politics and make your case for what you think is real and should be happening.

                    • DukeEll []

                      I’ve argued the facts with you before. You argue no matter what long covid is now more important than how mild omicron may be. I argue we have to get on with being positive and living with covid.

                      you’re the one throwing round drunk calls and answering questions with evasion and questioning the questions.

                      tell everyone how long is long enough before we can live with covid

                    • weka

                      Here's what I actually think. By the end of January or so we will have a better idea of the actual data on omicron, how mild it is, and what that means. You can read about the time frames here (including what the lags are and why they matter),

                      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/21/omicron-spreading-milder-virus

                      Long covid is real. At an even 10% rate it has the potential to cause huge problems for the health system, the economy, welfare, and families and communities. Letting covid run free (ie be like a cold or flu virus), is big risk. By run free I mean open the borders, remove MiQ, remove the traffic light system.

                      Fortunately we don't have to grapple with 'how long' in that context because it would be insane to open up now given what is happening in Australia. Hospital overrun, health care worker shortages, goods shortages due to general worker shortages. All due to omicron.

                      As I said, I think even with that there is a lot that could be done about the border situation for NZers returning. People wanting to come and go I'm less concerned about, but the compassionate grounds exemptions could be improved I guess. Going out and coming back to look after sick relatives or see them before they die seems reasonable, going to weddings I'm not so sure about, going on holiday yeah, nah take you chances in the lottery.

                      Thing is, I think we should be adapting for the long haul and then those systems would be improved. This whole 'back to normal soon' stuff is why we're just putting up with that shit.

                    • weka

                      weka: we don't yet know how long covid will affect us medium and long term, and we don't know how much long covid omicron causes, so let's take some time to gather knowledge on that. Not indefinitely, but we're not there yet.

                      Duke: You argue no matter what long covid is now more important than how mild omicron may be.

                      Weka: no, I'm saying we just don't know enough either way yet.

                      Duke: I argue we have to get on with being positive and living with covid.

                      Weka: if we do that (open up and live with covid), we may end up with very large numbers of disabled people as well as the already known quantity of death and health care systems overwhelm. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it can't be put back.

                      Weka: we can adapt around the realities of the situation so that we can live good lives and be positive.

            • Patricia Bremner 8.2.2.1.1.2

              What harm? Be more specific. Please do not blame the Government for those who through internet worm holes or religious black holes have gone down strange paths.

              Large public Health Orders have been used for over a hundred years, so they are not new.

              Apart from those inadvertently infected, who has been harmed in your opinion?.

              As infection prevention has helped avoid systems of health food and medicine distribution from major disruptions, allowed time for prevention programmes to be put in place along with financial support, the current approaches are extremely successful, as we are one of the few places in the world where life expectancy has increased during a pandemic.

              Further, the disease is not endemic. 17 new community cases shows we are bringing Delta under control, and we fortunately do not have Omicron in the community as yet, which allows time for boosters.

              Australia has three places with overwhelming infection. Their systems supplies and workers are so impacted people with serious Delta are trying to care for themselves at home. Test kits have become hard to find, and their experts estimate cases though only the tested are currently counted. Food and medicines are in short supply in some areas, and medical staff are overwhelmed. So their booster programme has been overtaken by Omicron in places.

              We now have 10 family members sick with Delta and or Omicron in NSW, with no support at all. This is in a wealthy country. "I am not scared of covid"

              Well bully for you. You have not experienced it so that statement means nothing.

              “How long ?” ‘Till the WHO says the Pandemic threat is over. ‘Till we have boosted our population. ‘Till we have systems in place to cope, any other answer is impossible imho.

            • Gabby 8.2.2.1.1.3

              Well, bully for you I guess. I welcome further intervention.

    • Tricledrown 8.3

      No links to ivermectin or Japanese stats, just no links.

      [RL: You have just been removed from a week long pre-mod/ban for refusing to provide cites or links yourself, and subsequently ignoring all requests from both moderators to acknowledge. Now your first comment out of the block is to demand links from another commenter; maybe you think you are being funny, but this has you skating on very thin ice indeed.

      My first inclination is to just put another ban on you, this time longer. I need you to reply to this warning acknowledging this moderation and a commitment from you to provide cites when necessary in future.]

  9. Not that anyone on here needs reminding what an absolute fuckwit Mike Hiskings is, but here are his words on the covid state:

    Berejiklian is Australia's most successful premier. Her state is the best economic performer, she is popular, and she has led far and away Australia's most successful COVID response."

    As Micky points out, her replacement appears to be even worse.

    We are blessed indeed to have Jacinda and a Labour government and not the Natz.

  10. weka 10

    Really good post micky.

    But I think for me just personally as a public health physician, the biggest tragedy has been the vaccine equity issue. It really has been horrific. Horrific. The world just has not ever come to terms with the fact that vaccinating the most vulnerable people first would have been a better bet, not only epidemiologically but just from an equity perspective.

    Is he talking about poorer countries? Or vulnerable people in any country?

    I argued last year that NZ should have waited in the vax programme and let poor countries with shit health case systems and little ability to contain covid have access to the vaccines first. I'm conflicted about this now, because obviously delta changed NZ's situation and we ended up with having to use hefty mandates to get the vax rate up quickly. The only other option there would have been more limits on the border and internally and I just don't think NZ is that liberal minded to tolerate that for the sake of other countries.

    From a systems thinking, regenerative model, what we could do now is a) keep our own steady as she goes approach, including keeping the border tight and b) work with our closer neighbours to help them into a similar situation where that is possible. Low population islands have obvious advantages. The trans-Tasman bubble is a goner, but I could see how we could have reciprocity with Pasific nations in building a strong, localised pandemic response. This would naturally merge into a reciprocity and collaborative approach to climate/eco crises.

    I don't know how much is being done in this already, but the point in the post about the long term nature of the problem suggests we start planning and acting around that. As always the regenerative models solve existing problems and future proof against the ones on the horizon.

    • roy cartland 10.1

      Well the other way to spread vaccine uptake is to share it. Demand it be made patent-free. We paid for it, we shouldn't have to keep paying just to line Pfizer pockets. Same old lefty mantra of course, but isn't this situation a bit of a special case to do that?

  11. Sanctuary 11

    I don't know if the Herald re-posting this years crop of right wing reckons over the summer is the winner they think it is, given how many of them are now provably completely wrong.

  12. Just Saying 12

    A very moderate, gentle explanation. Shouldn't 'frighten the horses'.

    We do have the luxury of wait and see for a little while given our geographic isolation. Much of the world is all out of luxuries.

    And this died-in-the-wool collectivist is all over and out.

  13. Jackel 13

    All I would say to the Ardern government is us kiwis love our sport, so don't take away our fun of trying to better our covid 19 score and be the best in the world at beating covid.

  14. Patricia Bremner 14

    I have just talked with my very frightened brother who is in Culburra Beach near Nowra NSW.. The cases a week ago were in the twenties, but now a thousand, with 37000 plus in Sydney today.

    He now has a daughter-in-law and a grandchild with covid. One family know it is Delta, the other family is waiting. They got test results 6 days late, and there are 8 hour waits for tests, and self test kits have run out. The one local Dr. is overwhelmed. The local store is having trouble getting stock replaced, so supplies are rationed.

    They feel abandoned by the State and Federal government and feel quite depressed. We are worried for them but can do little. Those arguing we are running scared well…… #**@##

    • Yes Patricia, that is the grim reality of letting omicron (or any variant of covid) loose in the country, and too many can't see how bloody frightening it will be, even if most get only a mild case.

      All the best to your family in Oz – I feel for them.

      • Patricia Bremner 14.1.1

        Thanks Tony, we now have our son his landlady and their neighbour in Gold Coast sick trying to get test kits as they also have huge testing lines and no tests kits available as supply chains are affected by the number of folk isolating. We are safe here currently, but worried sick as our son has comorbidities. They think their brief outdoor contact with the neighbour's son and daughter-in-law who have tested positive is the conduit.

  15. Koff 15

    Kiwi epidemiologist based at Melbourne University, Tony Blakely, has a keen interest in what NZ can learn about the Omicron outbreak in Australia. A summary of his advice is on this RNZ link. Perhaps most importantly is that NZ shouldn't waste any precious time while Omicron is out of the country. Understandably most kiwis want to savour what they can of the summer after the long restrictions, but the Omicron surge is truly astounding and it's noticeable the increasing numbers of Covid cases (probably mostly Omicron) arriving in MIQ. 3 weeks ago Queensland opened its border after about 2,000 cases altogether, only 7 deaths (same pop as NZ) and relative normality since the pandemic started. Just today, the case numbers, probably hugely under represented, were 10,332 with 284 in hospital. It's not the severity of sickness or fatalities that are a concern (notwithstanding Weka's comments on lack of knowledge of long Covid). Mainly the knock on effects on the whole of society and the economy. Ironically, it's partly the constant pressure from business, especially tourism, that persuaded the Qld govt to agree to open up on a date, coincidentally just as Omicron arrived.

  16. Koff 16

    Adam's point (above) about Cuba's vaccine success is valid. Cuba couldn't depend on buying vaccines from outside and couldn't afford it anyway so developed its own vaccine which seems to have been highly effective so far, or at least until Omicron arrived recently. Now they are tweaking their own vaccine to counter Omicron and expect to provide boosters to their entire eligible population this month. Cuba (imho) has also always pursued good general preventative health measures without the burden of a rapacious health "industry".

    • weka 16.1

      fascinating article, thanks. Do you know why the US put harsher sanctions in place 2 years ago?

      • Koff 16.1.1

        I guess Trump reversed the limited easing of sanctions of the Obama administration. Cuba still remains an odd one out in Latin America, pursuing policies independent of Uncle Sam. Not exactly a perfect example of socialism, but certainly different! Its education and health achievements seem to be shining lights compared to most other countries in the region and health outcomes seem to be better than in the U.S despite the country's poverty. I've never been to Cuba (although I spent several months in Nicaragua in the early Sandinista Revolution era, a country that has sadly gone down the gurgler poltically), but plenty of yachtie friends have and have been surprised and challenged by what they experienced). Who knows what would have happened in Cuba if the U.S. hadn't treated it so abominably?

      • KJT 16.1.2

        Couldn't afford an example next door of socialism, however imperfect, working.

        The underlying motivation behind many of the forced regime changes around the world, (83 last time I looked) caused by the USA.

  17. KJT 17

    According to Bill and RL, only 3.4 of those, really have covid.

    Even better!

    • RedLogix 17.1

      As the underlying community prevalence rises the impact of Bayesian false positives will reduce dramatically.

      For instance if we assume that the underlying prevalence of Omicron in NSW is now around 1 in 10, the sensitivity of the testing is 98% and the false positive rate is 2% (all generous numbers) then if 1000 people are tested once, then we will get:

      100 x 0.98 = 98 positive results from people who DO have COVID

      900 x 0.02 = 18 positive tests from people who do NOT have COVID.

      Which gives a total of 116 positive results of which we can see 98 of them are from people with COVID. Now our testing is a lot more predictive of whether or not a person has COVID, a single positive test can be assumed to be about 98/116 or about an 84.4% chance of being correct.

      This is the exact opposite of the result we got when we assumed the prevalence was 1 in 200.

      Edit: Updated numbers to fix a silly arithmetic error.

  18. joe90 18

    The best of both worlds.

    Onya, Dom.

    /

    A leaked email sent to staff from Professor Mohammad Khadra, head of surgery at ­Nepean Hospital, outlined a health district in crisis due to growing caseloads and a staff shortage exacerbated by close contact isolation rules.

    It follows dozens of nurses and doctors and their organisations saying they are ­“insulted” the state government keeps claiming hospitals are coping with the latest outbreak.

    “Numbers are growing and staff are diminishing with more and more positives in the ­facility. We are at ­capacity with the two wards for Covid and will be opening another ward ­shortly,” the email said.

    “More importantly, I think we have to assume that in any theatre, the probability is ­either the patient or staff are positive. We have to move forward with universal precautions. All the evidence indicates that the best way to protect ourselves is to wear protective masks, eye cover and hand hygiene.

    https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/coronavirus/leaked-emails-reveal-hospital-covid-crisis-like-a-war-zone-in-our-wards/news-story/60ca6682ba2c9c593b8feba24a8655df

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