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Delta Covid – the battle so far

Written By: - Date published: 9:33 am, September 14th, 2021 - 65 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, covid-19, health, jacinda ardern, supercity - Tags:

As Tamaki Makaurau enters week four of lockdown things are at an interesting stage.

Daily infection rates have dropped steadily but plateaued recently. We all cheered when they reduced and the vast majority of us thought we were going to deal with delta the same way we had dealt with the other variants. But recent incursions and news has suggested that we may not get out of this as easily as we thought.

The first lock down lasted for nearly five weeks. This lockdown will do the same, at least.

My impression is that this time the response is much more sophisticated.  Instead of being fed daily infection numbers we now have infection numbers, are they epidemiologically linked, is the source of their infection unknown.  Multiple new infections is superficially bad but if they are from known infection sources and they have not been out in the community while infectious then all good.

I hope I am not tempting fate but Aotearoa has a chance of doing something other nations have not been able to do and that is beating back Delta.

The reasons are pretty simple, complete respect for the scientific advice amongst the Government and the vast majority of the population having trust in what is happening and being willing to do their part.  Instead of letting big headed political egos make a final call, influenced by the preferences of party donors, Aotearoa decided to do what the intelligencia advised us to do.

The vaccination roll out has recently accelerated and New Zealand has some of the highest daily vaccination rates in the world.  We are making our way up the table of OECD nations and are now ahead of Australia,Mexico, Colombia, Latvia, Slovenia in terms of doses administered per head of population.

And the roll out is proceeding as planned, but with a recent surge.

The rollout has quietened the naysayers who have complained that everything was bad.  As I have said before it is the end position that is important, not the mid way position.  And because community spread has been so limited we have had more time to make sure the roll out is done properly.

And for those who were claiming that the country would “run out” of vaccines recent deals conducted with the Socialist empires of Spain and Denmark have stopped that particular scenario from happening.  Who would have thought that Ardern’s Socialist Youth contacts would have been so helpful.

There is one aspect of the spread of the virus which is clear, it hits poor areas hardest.  Mangere, Favona, Massey, Manurewa, Otara, Papatoetoe and Henderson are all low socio economic areas,  And you know when numbers are boosted by 7 or 8 people in a household all succumbing to the virus that overcrowding is a feature.

With 68% now of the target population now having had a first vaccine and 77% being booked the next month should see the rate continue to improve.  We may still get out of this in remarkably good shape.

And there will be a debate one day about when we open up and change our approach.  But that day is not today.  In my view elimination remains the only viable strategy.

65 comments on “Delta Covid – the battle so far ”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    At this stage the majority of NZers according to the polls published, are still holding out against mass deaths of their friends, family, and neighbours. Long may that last. Public Health is being put before private profit, and science before social media comments sections.

    Sure many of the complainers in the media day after day are petit bourgeois rather than monopoly capitalists, they are owner operators or running small outfits or SMEs. Some of them seem baffled that running a business is not a right that entitles them to universal love and support! It is a competitive dog eat dog scenario with no guarantees–welcome to what wage workers have faced forever–uncertainty and intermittent income.

    It would be nice to have an equal number of working class people describing trying to live in cramped shit holes on reduced or no wages to complement the hard done by cafe owners. The Overseas Student, Mass Tourism, and Migrant Worker tap has been turned off, and New Zealanders need to get used to it. Anyone else notice unemployment is down and there is upward pressure on wages?

    The next pressure has to be on the Labour Caucus from a united movement for promptly addressing poverty and a state house mega build. If COVID is not fought to the bitter end, this country will become difficult to govern, unpleasant to live in, and the doom and gloom merchants will get their wish.

    • gsays 1.1

      In respect to wages, last month I received a 4.75% increase without asking.

      Contrast that with a lifetime in hospo where wages went backwards, shifts got longer, conditions diminished and the work load increased.

    • Patricia Bremner 1.2

      smiley100% Tiger Mountain.

  2. lprent 2

    And there will be a debate one day about when we open up and change our approach. But that day is not today. In my view elimination remains the only viable strategy.

    My view as well. When we hit somewhere between 80% and 90% of the whole population – including children under 12 – then that is a discussion we can have.

    Everything that we see from countries who have had what they thought were high vaccination rates, like the Uk and Israel, and then hit delta – well it just showed the level of arrogantly daft hubris. They are struggling with not overloading the health system, and don't have much capacity left for further surges.

    The chaotic nature of the US health system just demonstrates what happens when a state is under-prepared to deal with less optimistic scenarios with some states starting to dig out the freezer trucks for their dead again, of having their citizens start fleeing to the medical systems of neighbouring states with more rational politicians.

    Not to mention the unfolding disaster of NSW. But that looks like it is heading to a major health system overload as well.

    There is no pressing need for the majority of NZ citizens to risk that – especially with a bare-to-the-bone health system. We should profit from the mistakes of others and learn from their over-eager mistakes. Take a measured policy rather than listening to the self-interested and the deluded who don’t appear to understand the issues. Barry Soper for instance

    Elimination while getting vaccination levels to a high level. Then start looking at how much the taxes have to go up to maintain a health system capable of surviving waves of a global pandemic. On that last point – start with the under funding of Middlemore and the poverty factors in South Auckland and other suburbs that make them outbreak centres.

    If the wealthy want to prevent lockdowns because it bad for business, then they need to accept that their windfall tax cuts and overly friendly policies towards business costs in past decades are the primary cause of the lockdowns.

  3. Andre 3

    A thought on how Delta has changed the game:

    Before Delta, the high real world effectiveness of vaccines and low transmissibility of pre-Delta strains meant there was a real hope of a post-pandemic world without covid.

    Delta's high transmissibility and the lower real-world vaccine effectiveness against Delta means covid is here to stay.

    That means if we want to maintain elimination as a permanent strategy for New Zealand, it has a much much higher cost than it did six months ago. Much longer impositions of really draconian control measures like level 4 lockdowns will be required, compared to six months ago.

    In terms of freedom of movement and freedom of association getting removed by lockdowns, the price of maintaining elimination against Delta after everyone has had reasonable opportunity to get vaccinated is much higher than I find acceptable.

    Unless there's a sudden massive rush that overwhelms the vaccine centres this week, as far as I'm concerned nine weeks from today is the day when everyone has had the opportunity to get fully vaccinated. That's a week to cover off the outstanding first jab bookings, six weeks gap, and two weeks after the second jab.

  4. barry 4

    I shudder when they talk about abandoning elimination. I agree that lockdowns need to stop when we have sufficient people vaccinated, but that does not mean living with the virus. It should be treated the same as measles.

    Whenever cases of measles occur contact tracing kicks in and infected people are isolated. In rare cases it gets out of control for a while and sometimes people (mostly children) die. Most of us have a high level of immunity (ether from infection or vaccines) but there are an increasing number who don't. The only reason we can keep it out is because the number of infected people coming here from overseas is small. It could be eradicated, but the extra resources required to eliminate it in some other countries has not been made available.

    With Covid, it will take some time (decades?) before we can stop infected people coming here. That means that there will be outbreaks (even with MIQ, and even with high vaccination rates). But that doesn't mean we give up on elimination. We don't want to be in a position where kiwis are seeding outbreaks abroad.

    • It means better screening tools to catch imported infections without MIQ.
    • It means we keep pushing to raise vaccination rates so that transmission is reduced.
    • It means we keep improving our testing capability so we pick up cases more quickly.
    • It means we look to isolate cases and close contacts.

    To make it work we need to look at new tools which are getting developed all the time (like newer antigen tests). More important though is addressing the overcrowding and inequity, that make it impossible for large groups of people to keep themselves safe, or to get timely healthcare.

    And while we are at it we can eliminate RSV, rheumatic fever, meningococcal disease, and others.

    Lockdowns work, but are not the only way to maintain elimination.

  5. Enough is Enough 5

    The other thing we really need to be doing to battle COVID is increasing our ICU bed numbers massively.

    At some point (once our vacination rates are high enough) we will reopen and there will be a surge in cases. The vaccine will help in protecting the majority of those people who contract the disease, but as we have seen overseas there will still be some unlucky vaccinated people who get hit hard.

    After the vaccine our next layer of defence is ICU. New Zealand currently has 4.6 ICU beds for every 100,000 people. This number has decreased over the past 20 years as the population has grown. We compare poorly to countries with equivalent healthcare systems – the UK has 6.4, Australia 8.9 and Germany 38.7.

    We need to prepare for a future surge and increase our ICU capabilites.

    • Gypsy 5.1

      IMHO a major reason for the governments ultra-cautious approach to lock down's is the inability of our health system to cope with a severe outbreak.

      • Patricia Bremner 5.1.1

        To buy time to vaccinate to strengthen our health systems and to pivot our thinking.

        Building resilience and knowledge. We can do this!!

      • mpledger 5.1.2

        No health system can cope with a severe outbreak. Noone can afford to have that sort of capacity sitting idle until an outbreak occurs.

        • Gypsy

          Right on both counts.

        • lprent

          They can if the probability of an outbreak approaches 100% for any given year and the economic alternative is a lockdown.

          This is an endemic respite disease that have a natural habitat in socially dense populations like families or congregations or pubs or workspaces.

          The probability of it dying back or vaccinations preventing outbreaks over the next decade is about 0%.

          The economic alternatives are to keep borders closed, laying massive program of better ventilated and larger houses and workspaces, or the cheapest is to add extra ICU capability…..

    • Tricledrown 5.2

      At the begining of Covid we only had 150 ICU beds across NZ.now we have 650 but if we have a NSW out break we will need 1500 .That takes big money and a sustained investment of up to 10 years .ie training enough highly skilled Doctors ,Nurses infrastructure .

      The best option in the shorterm is a combination of vaccination ,testing,Vaccine pasports.Back in the day to travel you had to be vaccinated for the likes of small pox .

      Todays public are not familar with real hardship that our parents grandparents faced wothout antibiotics vaccines .

  6. Gypsy 6

    "And for those who were claiming that the country would “run out” of vaccines recent deals conducted with the Socialist empires of Spain and Denmark have stopped that particular scenario from happening. Who would have thought that Ardern’s Socialist Youth contacts would have been so helpful."

    They shouldn't have been necessary. The government have an elimination strategy that relies on numbers getting vaccinated, yet they didn't order enough vaccine in sufficient time. We aren't even in the top 50 countries in the world for vac rates, and we're 6th from bottom in the OECD for total doses administered.

    According to Graham Le Gros "New Zealand should be trying to get 80 to 90 per cent of the population vaccinated – even with just one jab – to give New Zealand a really good shot."

    We’re well short of that.

  7. A couple of local tweeters also do excellent graphs. @Te_Taipo shows how we are smashing Delta, compared with the 2020 Covid outbreak. @Thoughtfulnz also shares useful resources and different views of public datasets.

  8. KJT 8

    Thanks to our effective strategy so far, we were in the fortunate position of being able to wait and see what vaccines worked best, and we were able to let less fortunate countries that needed them more take priority. It is doubtfull, despite the claims from the right wing that they would have done the impossible, instantly, ignoring the fact that they would have had us in the same position as Britain 18 months ago, that training, buying and distributing vaccines could have occurred much faster.

    As we heard in the House, in answer to a question about why the Government didn't bribe Phizer to give NZ priority, Phizer were not accomadating bidding wars, which makes "Phizer more principled than the" opposition politician that asked the question.

    Now we are ramping up the process very well.

    • Gypsy 8.1

      We didn't need to bribe Pfizer. We could have just placed our orders months earlier than we did.

      • mpledger 8.1.1

        We put in a lot of money up-front, well before any vaccine was being tested on people. NZ had two problems – we have little leaverage and we were covid-19 free when other countries were swamped. I bet there were lots of discussions about the ethics of sending supply to NZ when other countries were in a desperate situation.

        • Gypsy

          NZ's population is a shade over one half of one % of the total worlds population. The quantity of vaccine doses to vaccinate our entire population matters is marginally under sweet FA on a global scale.

          • Incognito

            Your maths is off.

            World population: ca. 7.9 billion

            NZ population: ca. 5 million, i.e., ca. 0.063% of the World population

            Question for you: what’s the world surplus stock of Covid-19 vaccines at any given time?

            • Gypsy

              Ooops was out by a decimal point. Makes my argument even stronger.

              "what’s the world surplus stock of Covid-19 vaccines at any given time?"

              No idea.

              I do know that the US has been shipping it's surplus covid stocks overseas. And that "Wealthy countries, including the UK, have secured hundreds of millions of covid vaccines that they no longer need or cannot use. And “Western countries and Japan together have roughly 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccines that can be immediately redistributed to poorer nations and, by the end of 2021, this surplus stock will balloon to 1.2 billion, according to a new analysis of global vaccine utilisation and supply set to be released next week” (https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/surplus-covid-19-vaccines-with-rich-nations-to-hit-1-2-billion-doses-101630784951884.html).

              • Incognito

                Look, I understand that you think you’re the smartest simpleton in the room, but your reasoning is that of a RW simpleton. Please sharpen up before you comment on stuff that you clearly don’t understand. OTOH, TDB would welcome you with open arms; they cherish simpleton RWs.

                • Gypsy

                  You asked me a question. I answered it. Not quite sure what your problem is.

                  • Incognito

                    You’re talking out of your arse.

                    Vaccines were a scarce resource globally. No prediction of any possible future surplus stockpiles is changing that. Where, how, and when this intersects with NZ’s vaccine roll-out is something you have not and most likely cannot answer yet in your ignorance you feel cocky enough to criticise it.

                    Do you see my problem now?

                    Please stop digging while you still can; you are not known for knowing when to stop though. Why don’t you join your other moniker who’s gone so silent here?

                    • Gypsy

                      "Where, how, and when this intersects with NZ’s vaccine roll-out is something you have not and most likely cannot answer"

                      No-one could. That is the conundrum all countries faced. But the ones who got in early received their vaccine stocks early and got a higher % of their populations vaccinated. We hesitated, and nearly ran out at a time when other first world countries have surplus stock. So you have (I'm sure unintentionally) provided more ammunition to those who claim we were too slow.

                    • Incognito []

                      You missed the contradiction in your own comment, which doesn’t surprise me because you seem to be too wedded to your own opinion, which was rather obvious from the outset.

                    • Gypsy

                      Which part didn't you understand?

                      Edit – actually that’s uncalled for. I’ll move on.

                    • Incognito []

                      You should ask yourself that question. I’m good knowing what I don’t know, generally speaking, and try to stick to the facts.

                      Edit: yes, let’s move on, shall we?

      • KJT 8.1.2

        Before we had indications of the most effective. Sure!

  9. Patricia Bremner 9

    69% have their first dose. "come on all, let's do this".

  10. Cricklewood 10

    If we do go down the path of a much extended level four lockdown the wage subsidy is going to need to be looked at.

    Already some employers are down to paying subsidy plus ann leave top up if you have it. End of the day $600 a week doesnt pay rent in Auckland. If you dont own a property and can talk to the bank you will burn any savings you have or choose between rent, food and which bills to pay. It will get very ugly very quickly from here hell cant even leave to stay with family if you lose your job or housing at this point.

  11. ianmac 11

    An American young woman goes through the maths of Covid infections re Vaccination. Well worth a look especially from the reluctant ones.



    Do you feel lucky? Wanna know the odds of you dying from the Delta Variant? These numbers will surprise you. 02 (hope this link finds her.

  12. Macro 12

    No need to look overseas for evidence that vaccination works

    Here is NZ data to date:

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 12.1

      That is a fantastic graphic! So often we are hearing "95% etc in hospital are unvaccinated" – of course that is only meaningful when you know what the population rate of vaccination is – this graphic contrasts that beautifully.

    • Anne 12.2

      And I found an oboxious pamphlet in my letterbox today from the Voices of Freedom. The claims they make or infer:

      1. Deaths and cases of serious injury are being reported around the world at an alarming rate. [note they don't say "due to Covid" but that is what they are implying.]
      2. Concern about genotoxicity and serious autoimmunity.
      3. Unknown whether vaccine will cause cancer, sterility or mutate cells [planting the idea the vaccine does all three.]
      4. Animals in prior vaccine trials became very sick when exposed to wild virus.
      5. Only reason to have vaccine is that it might reduce symptoms. [their bold]
      6. Vaccine has not shown to stop you catching Covid or passing it on to others.
      7. All Covid vaccines are experimental. Some trials won't end until 2023.
      8. Vaccine companies are exempt from liability.

      These are presented as the FACTS. [their bold] They invite recipients to go to their site for further info. Haven’t the stomach.

      I suspect this pamphlet is being distributed far and wide and goes beyond the Auckland region. Due to its toxicity, in the middle of a pandemic such garbage should be banned from being circulated publicly in any form.

      No individual’s name or address supplied. I thought it was the law that both must be included.

    • Andre 12.3

      Y'know, us lib'ruls do a lot of handwringing about how qonservatives do so much better at messaging than we do.

      But's it's undeniable we do a much better job of hiding all the radio hosts that die from the vaccine than they do of hiding their radio hosts that die from covid.


  13. In Vino 13

    Obnoxious indeed, Anne.

    If they claim all those points are 'Facts' they would fail 1970s School Cert English.

    In their very first point the word 'alarming' is emotive, and based on no fact. It is an opinion.

    Some of the claims they make or imply are waffle. Where do such idiots get their funding from?

  14. Anne 14

    Oh dear, I came up with a new word there – oboxious. Rather like it. Maybe a variation of rumbustious. Wadda you reckon?

    • In Vino 14.1

      Anne. I did not notice the missing 'n'. . I was hinting at the infer/imply thing.. Sorry!

      Obsidious and invidulous would go well with rumbustulous, but I like rumbustulous most because it makes me think of rum.


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