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Meanwhile, omicron and delta in New Zealand

Written By: - Date published: 12:20 pm, February 18th, 2022 - 73 comments
Categories: covid-19, long covid - Tags: ,

While our attention is elsewhere, Jamie Morton reported in the Herald this morning that New Zealand is still experiencing a significant percentage of delta variant covid cases. These are over-represented in sequenced hospitalisations,

The latest data from ESR showed up to seven per cent of cases being genomically sequenced in New Zealand were Delta, which was still making up the majority of sequenced hospital cases.

Around the world, dominant Omicron has effectively squashed Delta: in England, it took just a month to push Delta down from 98 per cent of recorded cases to just 4 per cent of them.

But experts have remained worried that Omicron’s predecessor could linger strongly enough to have an out-sized impact.

As of last month, Delta cases still made up around a third of those in New South Wales intensive care units – yet just a small portion of those found in the community.

Of all Covid-19 cases sequenced in New Zealand over the past two weeks, 5 to 7 per cent of them were Delta, which appeared to be “holding steady”, ESR’s Dr Joep de Ligt said.

One of the issues here is New Zealand’s relatively unique position. Because of our low omicron rates, that variant hasn’t been able to take over to the same extent as overseas. Some of the delta variant infections specific to social events in Auckland have now spread outside the original infection areas to Wellington. This is in effect two epidemics in New Zealand.

ESR’s De Ligt,

Noting Delta’s higher risk of severe disease, de Ligt urged people to get boosted and wear masks.

He said New Zealand would be wise to “keep a wary eye out” and maintain our best efforts to curb the variant.

I want to stop and emphasise this because there are still a number of narratives in various media and among the population that ignore the risk, namely ‘omicron is mild’ and ‘best to let it rip and get it over with’. We don’t know how this is going to play out in New Zealand, we are in a unique position, and there is no evidence yet that ‘let it rip’ is wise.

In addition to the hospitalisation rates from delta, there is the issue of long covid. We don’t know yet how omicron will impact on long covid, and we barely know how delta does. We do however know that vaccination and boosting lowers the risk of contracting covid, and thus lowers transmission rates, and that all our other tools lower both the risk of contracting and transmitting covid as well:  well fitted masks, hand washing/sanitising, social distancing, self isolation, testing.

For those that think that long covid is some vague illness over there that is unlikely to affect them, read Lprent’s post The long cost of Covid-19 about post-covid heart disease,

It should be noted that Omicron and Delta won’t be present in these results as they looked at people a year after being infected. But because the causation of these longer-term cardiovascular system effects from Covid-19 isn’t understood at a clinical level and in particular how they manifest long after infection and recovery, I wouldn’t be particularly hopeful that Omicron is any more benign.

For those feeling especially bullet-proof, consider the impact on the health and welfare systems in NZ (not to mention the Budget) of an increase in diseases that require substantial high tech and high costs medical intervention over the next years and decades.

The more people we have infected, the more risk of health care system overload and deaths in the short term, and the more likelihood of increasing numbers of post-viral chronically ill people in our families and communities and systems over the coming months and years.

Otago University virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan said contact tracing services should give any detected Delta cases priority – although that wouldn’t be so easy with Omicron spreading our resources more thinly.

With New Zealand having had little prior exposure to either variant, she said it was difficult to say just how Omicron and Delta might compete in the community.

Because being infected with one didn’t stop people from contracting the other, it was all the more important that Kiwis ensured they were boosted.

Now is not the time to give up our best protections.

Mod note: if you want to comment under this post, please post back up for any claims of fact at the time you make a comment. Back up means a quote, your own explanation were relevant, and a direct link. Time stamps are needed for audio and video. This moderator is sick of asking. Quotes without links will be deleted.

Please keep on topic, discussion about the Convoy protests can happen in these posts, (some overlap in this post is ok)

https://thestandard.org.nz/why-havent-the-police-acted/

https://thestandard.org.nz/convoy-protest-18-2-22/

73 comments on “Meanwhile, omicron and delta in New Zealand ”

  1. Molly 1

    My partner's co-workers are being contacted after fairly long delays (up to five days after exposure) to go and get tested. It makes me think, as suggested in the article that they may be prioritising getting in contact with Delta infections as they are currently still a significant portion of our daily positives.

    I'm all good with that approach, it makes sense to me if the indications regarding hospitalisations and care between strains given in the article remain true.

    • Molly 1.1

      The RAT access for essential workers requires several back and forths between worker, employer and Ministry.

      This needs to be streamlined, it's hard to expect it to run efficiently in its current form, particularly as other pressures from the Covid outbreak increase.

      • Gypsy 1.1.1

        'Streamlined'? I'd say the government needs to get out of the way. When a RAT that has a sensitivity of 80%, is approved in the US and Australia, can't be imported into NZ, we've lost the plot.

        • Molly 1.1.1.1

          "Get out of the way" works too.

          Co-worker going for a RAT test at opening time told that testers wouldn't be there for another hour and a half. In the end it took two and a half hours (sans travelling time) to get RAT tested.

          This slippage at the beginning of this outbreak doesn't bode well. Unless it's addressed.

        • AB 1.1.1.2

          80% is virtually useless. Using one is merely a performative act of virtue signalling – simply pretending to care about public health and one's employees. If the government "gets out of the way" there will however be numerous opportunities for price gouging and profit taking – so all good eh?

          • Gypsy 1.1.1.2.1

            If 80% is virtually useless, then don’t get vaccinated. After all, the vaccine doesmt’t stop 100% of people getting covid either. The ‘RAT’s’ are ineffective is a silly argument.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.2

      'co-workers are being contacted after fairly long delays (up to five days after exposure) to go and get tested'

      Incubation period . A positive person can be a number of days before symptoms and getting tested and then results.

      They work backwards from day of test to allow for this. hence the up to five days you speak about for those at same location at same time.

  2. Matiri 2

    Jenene Crossan, one of NZs earliest COVID cases who has been vocal on the long term effects, tweeted this sad news a few days ago:

    • Molly 2.1

      That's a devastating outcome.

      Do you have any links to the Long Covid community in NZ?

      • Matiri 2.1.1

        No I don't fortunately, but Jenene Crossan has been sharing her story very articulately. Her recovery from Covid has been long and difficult.

    • Barfly 3.1

      Ouch! 2% with long covid I imagine NZ s response will mean ours is a far lower %

      100,000 cases of long covid in NZ would be a bloody nightmare

      • GreenBus 3.1.1

        There's already at least 25,000 cases of CFS/ME/Long Covid in NZ.

        They are invisible, so another lot will be similar, I guess.

        It's not a problem now, why should that change?

        "In New Zealand, it is estimated that there are at least 25,000 sufferers. This equates to 1 in 250 adults and 1 in 134 youth."

        https://anzmes.org.nz/

    • Molly 3.2

      I suspect my sister in Oz, who contracted Covid in both the Delta strain (dble vaccinated) and then the Omicron (boosted) has symptoms that point to long-Covid remaining after the Delta infection.

      It is a concern, and I'm hoping that Ministry will compile data and report on it as soon as they can.

      • Patricia Bremner 3.2.1

        Hello Molly, my son says they are called Long Haulers. He is getting better, and today Robyn recognised him. To our great relief. Yes this is a real outcome for some who get the virus. If you get it please drink fluids endlessly and rest totally.

        The Dr in Robyn's covid ward told Grant "If you sweat you have overdone it. Ten minutes work then two hours rest."

        We don't seem to be giving out that information.

        Grant has been told to be very careful as he has two other conditions. …and….

        Long haulers can take 6 to 8 weeks to get over the symptoms, and do not recover their fitness due to poor oxygen transfer and organ damage Hence the easy exhaustion.

        • Molly 3.2.1.1

          Thanks Patricia. I'm talking to my sister on the weekend and will pass this on.

          Sounds like your family have been at the pointy end of the stick, on this. Hope the improvement continues.

          • Patricia Bremner 3.2.1.1.1

            Glad to help Molly.

            Robyn has lost her brain fog and may be well enough to come home to Grant where they will rest and recuperate. We are hugely relieved.

            Good wishes to your sister and family. As you said it is being far away and feeling helpless makes it all worse.

  3. Poission 4

    There are three variants of concern,delta,and Omicron BA1.BA2.

    https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/8737786/?utm_source=showcase&utm_campaign=visualisation/8737786

    The problematic issue is not delta/omicron it is decreasing immunity with effectiveness decreasing from 69% after the booster (2-4 weeks) to 49% after 10 weeks for BA1 and from 74% after (2-4 weeks) to 46 % after 10 weeks for BA2

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1054071/vaccine-surveillance-report-week-6.pdf

    hence we have a problem of national significance that is being overlooked,and it will be enhanced by the mandate removal for MIQ and overseas travel especially from NSW.

    • The Chairman 4.1

      The problematic issue is not delta/omicron it is decreasing immunity with effectiveness decreasing from 69% after the booster (2-4 weeks) to 49% after 10 weeks for BA1 and from 74% after (2-4 weeks) to 46 % after 10 weeks for BA2

      Additionally, have you seen this: https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-trial-worlds-first-finds-4th-dose-not-good-enough-against-omicron/

      But don't worry. Pfizer CEO says omicron vaccine will be ready in March

      https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/10/covid-vaccine-pfizer-ceo-says-omicron-vaccine-will-be-ready-in-march.html

    • weka 4.2

      given we currently have no vaccine that is highly effective, my understanding is that the government is simply trying to flatten the curve to protect the health system and flow ons from that. I hope it's also trying to limit the number of people that get covid generally because of various risk factors.

      Removing the MiQ mandate seems a wrong move, would have been better to improve that system.

      • Poission 4.2.1

        Living with covid is a lethal policy,and a very expensive health cost going forward.

        Scenario assumptions also suggest (strongly) that variants will emerge faster then new vaccines,the old adage of still fighting the last battle ,when the new one starts.Protective behaviour,from non pharmaceutical interventions such as masks need to be maintained,and mandated in close situations such as flight travel with no exceptions.

        https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/academics-viral-evolution-scenarios-10-february-2022

        see pdf.

        • weka 4.2.1.1

          yes, the sooner we stop treating this as something that will be over soon and start adapting the better.

          Maybe Labour think we can soak up the disability costs.

        • Gypsy 4.2.1.2

          The head of the Royal NZ College of GP's seems to disagree with you.

          • Poission 4.2.1.2.1

            Someone who has done no research and is a practitioner of cookbook science,I prefer analysis of those who have both published predictive outcomes with scientific rigor,and provided early warnings of risk,where if enacted would have been insurance in the billions vs trillions of dollars and millions of deaths.

            https://necsi.edu/systemic-risk-of-pandemic-via-novel-pathogens-coronavirus-a-note

            • Gypsy 4.2.1.2.1.1

              A good many of those predictive outcomes have so far been well wide of the mark. I'd have thought the careful considerations of the Royal NZ College of GP's worth listening to. They are actual doctors, at the coal face. Not theorists with pointy hats making up data that at times has no connection with reality.

              • Poission

                2006

                https://necsi.edu/longrange-interaction-and-evolutionary-stability-in-a-predatorprey-system

                The report addresses such diseases as Ebola, SARS and avian flu, the last of which is currently spreading among birds across the globe, and may mutate to infect people. If current trends continue, these might be just the first of many pandemic threats that we will face. “Due to increasing global transportation,” the authors warn, “human beings may cross the transition into the realm of pandemics unless preventive actions are taken that either limit global transportation or its impact.”

                2015.

              • lprent

                Then perhaps you should read material from experts in the fields of epidemics and the history of them rather than GPs.

                GPs are as you say, on the coalface – that of daily medicine. But most know fuckall about epidemics in places like NZ apart what was taught as part of brief history in medical schools and if they did oversess work where epidemics are commonplace and medical infrastructure is rare.

                Most GPs here and theoughout the developed nations haven't faced epidemics before in a developed nation. In NZ they pretty well died out in the 1960s. So to have dealt with one here, GPs would have be freaking old.

                Plus GPs are at the coalface. Bloody useless place to learn about the type of logistics that actually defeat epidemics.

                The theorists, historians, civil defense hospitals and even the military medical system will know far more about how to deal with epidemics than any society of GPs. They are all deal with the history of previous epidemics and train in the responses required to deal with it.

                Use your common sense.

                Incidently Poisson's links about how obvious a pandemic was are just the tip of the iceberg. I was reading material that was pointed out how inevitable it was that we would get repeated global spreads back in the early 90s. I even wrote a history paper based on it.

                The worst case was always something like covid-19. Not too lethal, easy infection, late symptoms, endemic, and air travel.

                It settles into populations asnd knocks a decade off average working life through repeated waves for decades.

                • Gypsy

                  My comment was in response to the claim that "Living with covid is a lethal policy". Living with Covid is in fact an inevitability, and the government now fully accepts that.

                  "But most know fuckall about epidemics in places like NZ apart what was taught as part of brief history in medical schools "
                  But what they do know about is the serious health consequences from other diseases of continuing with the current strategy. That is partly what the RC is addressing.

                  • lprent

                    Living with Covid is in fact an inevitability, and the government now fully accepts that.

                    Sure and I accepted that back in May 2020. I wrote a post on it "Covid-19: may be endemic" – where I said

                    While I’m not a doctor, over the years I have looked at the history of diseases in human populations in my reading and courses. That is where I think that this disease will wind up. If I had to bet, and assuming a vaccine, I’d say this will eventually be more prevalent than measles, and less frequent outbreaks than the annual flu. It will be endemic.

                    I followed up with "Pandemic to endemic covid-19" in Feb 2021 once we had a better idea on how the vaccines were working which essentially said what the target was going to be in the world of waves of variants.

                    Personally I doubt that anyone in this Labour government ever thought that it was possible to eliminate Covid-19 long-term.

                    It was a short-term strategy for a few years until we got a vaccine and got whatever proportion of the population was required to limit spread or or effective preventative treatment.

                    Certainly I have never heard of any of Labour MP saying that it was a long-term. The elimination strategy was short-term until we got a vaccine and got whatever proportion of the population was required to limit spread or or effective preventative treatment.

                    Why? Because anyone who wasn't feeble-minded and who read anything about vaccine development would have been aware that a sterilising vaccine takes decades to refine.

                    A long -term elimination was pretty much the fantasy meme of the media and the feeble-minded in National/Act who were trying to say that was the governments long-term policy.

                    Mind you, a significiant number of the Nat/Act MPs, members, and supporters brought into the bullshit of Cameron Slater and co – so I guess there are people in there with fragile grasp of reality. After all they were the feeble-minded short-term idiots who cut back dramatically on our hospital and medical resources to give themselves a tax-cut – twice.

                    I have zero sympathy for them as they now whine that their crony capitalism internal economy in the low wage part of the economy is being damaged by a lack of cheap labour. They should have paid for more resources to handle a pandemic when it came.

                    Back in the 1990s I wrote a history paper on the effects of pandemics and the forward probability of them happening. After that I got out of the internal economy and shifted to the export sector based on the net.

                    To be precise I dropped out of working on code for our local manufacturing and telecom companies here and started putting my time into startups and engineering. It was more fun, and obviously helps me on my personal goal of being NZ's oldest working productive programmer. I haven't stopped working all the way through the pandemic. Worst I got were some delayed R&D hardware.

                    That is partly what the RC is addressing.

                    Having now read the article in question, it appears to be all that one GP was addressing (it didn't appear to be a RC statement). Even that only really showed up in the last few paragraphs.

                    But ongoing vaccinations of kids is a moot point while border is closed. It is hard for other diseases to spread in anything like our current environment. This isn't hard to tell – just look at the instances of reported diseases at the MoH website. Turns out that quarantines are good at reducing the risks of epidemics – 'who'd have thunk dat'.

                    Sure the down-stream effects of covid-19 having been causing issues for people who have other medical issues. However for the last 10 months or so, the entire vaccination effort has been targeted around making sure that we maintained medical capability to deal with an outbreak while we vaccinate.

                    If short-term idiots had wanted to be able to live reasonably normally during a pandemic than they shouldn't have voted for stupid tax-cuts. We have a medical system that normally runs at about 90% capacity and frequently tips over 100% under normal non-pandemic loads. The countries who have been coming out of the pandemic and settling back into a semblance of normal life – tey are one ones with working health systems taht aren't starved of funds and resources

                    It is the National/Act party public health system that means that we have had a problem retaining NZ trained nurses, doctors, and even nursing aides because they get better pay and better conditions almost anywhere else they go. Where we have had problems importing staff because Nat/Act are more concerned about tax cuts in every election than dealing with potential disasters.

                    This GP seems to be saying the same thing as many dimwits (Mike Hosking being a prime example) that they'd like to get back to their normal lives right now – regardless of the consequences to others in the whole population.

                    That isn't going to be an option for quite a number of years yet. There are going to be more variant waves of covid-19 for at least several more years.

                    Plus we have scraped by with potential pandemics since the 90s – on average there has been a novel candidate for that about every 5 years. several avian flus, pig flu, Ebola, SARS, Nile disease, MERS etc. This time we got less lucky. The diseases was too 'mild' and couldn't be contained and suppressed easily. But I'd bet we get another novel pandemic within a decade. The cheap air-travel makes it too easy to spread.

                    National/Act voters will have to get used to 'non-normal life' supporting a pandemic level medical system which we are going to need for an ageing population anyway. Also to actually paying their way forward rather than throwing their costs back on the kids. In other words – start paying adequate taxes rather than getting the children and poor to pay the bulk of it.

                    • Gypsy

                      "This GP seems to be saying the same thing as many dimwits (Mike Hosking being a prime example) that they'd like to get back to their normal lives right now…"

                      That's not what he's saying. He's saying we have other health issues that are not being addressed in the background of all the noise over covid. Like mental health issues. And the backlog of cancer screening. We can count the covid deaths, but the neglect of other diseases will be with us as silent killers for decades.

                      "(it didn't appear to be a RC statement)."

                      Yes, it was. The article includes this "However, we will learn to live with it in the same way we do with colds and flu,” Betty said in a statement issued by the Royal NZ College of GPs."

                      "start paying adequate taxes rather than getting the children and poor to pay the bulk of it."

                      That's factually incorrect. "What they show is that it is only when we get to around the top 50 per cent of households is there any net income tax paid. Below that income level no net tax is paid, as those households receive more in transfers than they pay in tax."

                    • lprent []

                      Actually a good catch on the first few bits. The last however is completely incorrect.

                      Income tax is just one part of the tax structure. It isn’t even the most important one. That is company taxes.

                      However the largest tax after income tax is GST at 15% ie about half the current top income tax rate. It cuts in on all disposable income apart from accomadation costs. Since almost all of these costs for low to median income are inescapable, it means that the nominal tax rate on someone at just below the median income is roughly the same rate as almost all of the people above it.

                      The actual tax system with GST is savagely regressive.

                      Then there are other taxes like car registration and WOF which weigh heavily on people already short of cash because they are over taxed.

                      If you then multiply it out by the number if people in the various income bands you’ll find that the bulk of the personal tax take including GST comes from people with incomes of well less than median income of around $50k. This isn’t exactly hard to dig out. You can find that information if you look at the publications of the IRD and NZStats. The bulk of the tax from individuals in NZ including GST is paid by people barely hitting the 30% tax bracket.

                      Sure there are tax based support systems like working for families and accomadation costs. But both are largely done for societal reasons and effectively are subsidies to have future taxpayers and not to overload public housing waiting lists respectively.

                      Neither help that much with either task. Accomadation costs wind up as a subsidy to low end landlords ratcheting rentals. Our birth rate is still declining because having kids is freaking expensive.

                      But also the amouny of money going into those programs is small when you compare it with tax taken from the same groups. What the lazy bugger in the article you cited didn’t look into was the disparities within the deciles and the people within them.

                      For instance the vast majority of the transfer payments going into the very low income deciles was in fact superannuation. Something as any super recipient will tell you that they have prepaid. This isn’t hard to dig out. Just look at the MSD budget.

                      This is how you tell lies in propoganda. You just leave outvthe inconvienient facts. It js specifically what happens when an accountant wants to tell rich folk what they would like to hear. If you remove the superannuation payments as being ‘benefit’ and instead treat that as an existing liability that Muldoon government started incurring back in 1975, then the picture changes.

                      But even that isn’t the full picture. Because currently there are vast swathes of untaxed personal income. For instance the untaxed income from selling of existing property and taking the capital gain being the main one.

                      For many people with higher incomes, this is often their main source of actual income over their lifetime as they move through a series of houses or land.

                      The effect of this overall is that most people on the top 5% of higher nominal incomes who have land or houses is that the effective tax rate that they pay on their whole income is typically going to be well less than the someone on the median income.

                      For instance between the end of 2017 and the end of 2021 I made a paper gain on my one bedroom apartment of about $300k. If I realised it, I would pay zero tax on it. This means that when I take into account my income, income tax, paid GST, stuff I didn’t pay GST on (mostly paying my partners mortgage as I live in her apartment), investments return and their PIR that “modest capital”, rental, and took the capital gain – my effective tax rate including income tax and GST over that period would be around 15-18%.

                      Less than half on my nominal rate includibg GST of just below 40% if I had no mortage or rental. That is why your link is pure fabrication. It simply glosses over the the details.

                      It soes illustrate why untaxed capital gains income is a massive market and tax distortion.

                      I know people who have made paper profits of well over a million dollars from their housing over the last 5 years, on an annual income that barely hits the 70k. That income when realised is hardly a “modest capital gain” as the lying by omission acountant in your link put it.

                      It isn’t hard to realise it. Many of the older engineers in my last job did that. They left Auckland and moved to the country to raise prices elsewhere while also remoting into their work. Because my partner still needs Auckland (despite mostly working virtually in New York and Invercargill) I just remote to my work in Hamilton and Silicon Valley.

                      Basically your linked article is just complete horseshit. It just wrote what a particular audience (including you apparently) wanted to hear, and glossed over or aggregated some serious basic flaws in its analyis. It js simply stupid propaganda written for the credulous.

                    • Gypsy

                      " the effective tax rate that they pay on their whole income is typically going to be well less than the someone on the median income."

                      There are two ways to measure this – a> the quantum of tax paid, and b> tax paid as a proportion of income. Your original post simply stated "start paying adequate taxes rather than getting the children and poor to pay the bulk of it." I took that to mean a>. There is no question that higher income earners pay more income tax, under both measures, than lower earners. That is the simple reality of a progressive tax system. As for GST etc, higher income earners own cars, purchase goods and services, and likely according to their incomes. There is no data that I'm aware of that can possibly demonstrate lower income earners pay a higher quantum of tax than those with higher incomes.

                      As for proportionality, you may well be right. GST is the main culprit, as you point out. But GST is an entrenched part of our tax system, and a highly efficient revenue earner, so what are the options?

                    • lprent

                      As for proportionality, you may well be right. GST is the main culprit, as you point out. But GST is an entrenched part of our tax system, and a highly efficient revenue earner, so what are the options?

                      Generally people on higher incomes pay less GST as a proportion of their income.

                      The biggest factor is because the affluent pay larger amounts of personal financial transactions – on capital and interest payments. – mostly for property. I know that I do. Payments to to banks on mortgages account for roughly 35% of my largish net income (after income tax and kiwisaver contributions). It also accounts for about 75% of the income from my apartment that I rent out. None of that collects GST.

                      People like me will only pay tax once on a very large chunk of income rather than the taxation twice (PAYE + GST) as people who expend almost all of their non-housing income.

                      The obvious way to get an tax revenue earner like than GST would be to put in a financial transactions tax specifically on capital and interest payments against loans.

                      This is pretty much the same as GST in that it taxes a service. It is also a consumption tax. Doing that will probably nicely get the most of the affluent paying similar indirect taxation to the less affluent.

                      You could exclude payment of housing rentals from such as tax on the same basis as GST. The renters are not the end -user of the service. The mortgagee is. So to exclude double taxation you'd apply it only to the end user who receives the capital benefit.

                      Of course it'd have a side-effect of making it more expensive to buy property. But it'd mean that cost is up-front throughout the process of holding property. Which is way more sensible than trying to tax it x years later as a capital gain.

                      It'd also reduce the profit of landlords, and decrease their income tax. However it would effectively tax their capital gains as well and provide more of an incentive to pay off rather than leverage property.

                      You then get rid of the difficult tax accounting for capital gains and can dump the ineffectual capital gains taxes. Bearing in mind the collection effect of such a tax, you will probably also be able to do tax-cuts on income taxes, just as happened when the indirect GST got added to the tax mix.

              • KJT

                "A good many of those predictive outcomes have so far been well wide of the mark". Link?

                Repetition does not make something true.

                I know it is a bit hard for to fit it in with your cognitive bias, but the local predictions on the whole have been remarkedly accurate.

                A range of predictions is given from no protective responses, to strict lockdown and isolation. The predicted result for the first two variants, allowing for the measures NZ took, were within the a few digits of the actual result. The predicted deaths, for example, with lockdowns and MIQ for the initial variant was very close.,

                https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/2/0/0/g/v/k/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.1240×700.200grg.png/1586465106481.png?format=pjpg&optimize=medium

                Of course if you simply compare the prediction made with absolutely no protective measures taken, which hasn't happened anywhere in the world, with results, you won't get the same numbers.

                And. I'm inclined to trust researchers in the field,who have spent their lives studying it, over someones reckons. No matter how well credentialed they may be in their own field.

                • Gypsy

                  "I know it is a bit hard for to fit it in with your cognitive bias, but the local predictions on the whole have been remarkedly accurate."
                  No, they have been miles out.

                  "I'm inclined to trust researchers in the field,who have spent their lives studying it, over someones reckons. "

                  When that 'someone' is the nZ Royal College of Doctors, I'd take their opinion over a group of pointy heads any day.

          • weka 4.2.1.2.2

            nothing in there about long covid, so hard to take his opinion seriously.

              • joe90

                Do we accept burdening the health system with thousands of newly disabled folk as inevitable, too?

                Long COVID symptoms of any severity were reported by 9.5% of double-vaccinated study participants, compared with 14.6% of socio-demographically similar participants who were unvaccinated when infected; the corresponding estimates for long COVID symptoms severe enough to result in limitation to day-to-day activities were 5.5% and 8.7% respectively.

                https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/selfreportedlongcovidaftertwodosesofacoronaviruscovid19vaccineintheuk/26january2022

                From the beginning of this pandemic, people with disabilities understood that the disease would target them and would swell their ranks. Disability historians knew that there was a penumbra of ill health to previous mass-death events. Health economists warned that, as with tuberculosis, HIV and other diseases, morbidity would stalk mortality. Too many others have clung stubbornly to a belief that COVID-19 is something from which a minority of people die, and that most bounce back quickly and intact, with only their immune system updated. The longer the pandemic drags on, the harder it is to maintain that fiction.

                https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00414-x

              • weka

                is there anything in that NZ govt link about long covid?

              • Poission

                Betty is not even wrong.

                Living with covid is a dangerous policy,endemic diseases are not be benign,and cause significant strain on the health system,including a reduction in non acute disease mitigation,decreasing the quality of life for a large proportion of the population.

                Thinking that endemicity is both mild and inevitable is more than wrong, it is dangerous: it sets humanity up for many more years of disease, including unpredictable waves of outbreaks. It is more productive to consider how bad things could get if we keep giving the virus opportunities to outwit us. Then we might do more to ensure that this does not happen.

                https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00155-x

                The Danes just removed all Non pharmaceutical interventions,and the penalty payment is severe.

                Nsw removed most yesterday,and this government relaxed the MIQ constraints to allow a second wave to arrive.

                • Gypsy

                  Living with covid is what just about every government in the world is adopting.

                  • ghostwhowalksnz

                    Thats because their weekly death tolls were so much higher and had a poor covid response.

                    Ireland for example has had 6000 dead, yet similar population to NZ, or Denmark 4200.

                    Even now with Omicron in times of high vaccination living with Covid ( as in NSW) will lead to 120-150 covid deaths per week here.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    So many ways to live with COVID-19, informed by prior experience.

                    • Gypsy

                      Ah, that’s why this discussion is so interesting. And important.

                    • ghostwhowalksnz

                      Big difference between NSW and NZ on omicron.

                      Many restrictions and mandates still in operation and others in waiting to be introduced.

                      Like these for the highest risk areas

                      Under the framework localised lockdowns and protections can be used to control high rates of transmission.

                      The restrictions implemented will consider specific circumstances and the nature of the public health response.

                      They could include:

                      • stay at home orders
                      • closure of premises, for example schools and retail
                      • restrictions on gatherings
                      • restrictions on movement in and out of the lockdown area.
                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Yep – interesting and important. Imho, ways of "living with Covid" should endeavour to keep the number of Covid-19 deaths per million as low as possible for as long as possible. The strategies to achieve this will probably vary across countries with NZ-sized populations, such as:

                    Hungary (4477 Covid-attributed deaths per million)
                    Latvia (2750 deaths per million)
                    Belgium (2563)
                    Paraguay (2494)
                    Greece (2435)
                    Portugal (2046)
                    Uruguay (1962)
                    Panama (1808)
                    Serbia (1697)
                    Sweden (1648)
                    Austria (1599)
                    Costa Rica (1527)
                    Switzerland (1498)
                    Lebanon (1465)
                    Jordan (1314)
                    Ireland (1276)
                    Albania (1195) [cut-off is Covid death rates >100-times that of NZ's]
                    Aotearoa New Zealand (11)

                    Might apparent enthusiasm for relaxing NZ's cautious approach to safeguarding public health now, when new case numbers are (much) higher than ever before, be due to a desire to lift our enviably low Covid-19 death rate to a point where surviving Kiwi's , i.e. most of the population, can get back to a BAU lifestyle? Callous and selfish maybe, but then it takes all kinds.

                    We don't know how lucky we are to live in this 'shambles' of a country.

                    • Gypsy

                      " Imho, ways of "living with Covid" should endeavour to keep the number of Covid-19 deaths per million as low as possible for as long as possible."

                      …while also ensuring we don't create a crisis across the remainder of the health sector. One is brewing, one that may take far more lives than Covid.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    One is brewing, one that may take far more lives than Covid.

                    Intriguing – do tell.

                    Edit – got it (@8:49 pm). Will future excess mortality analyses indicate the extent to which these ‘deferred treatment’ concerns are well founded, and will the pandemic and the health response be confounding factors?

                    • Gypsy

                      Excess mortality may show the impact, although not necessarily. For example we have a mental health crisis here and now, yet the suicidal numbers are down.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    For example we have a mental health crisis here and now…

                    Some of the more committed protesters?

      • The Chairman 4.2.2

        My understanding is that the government is simply trying to flatten the curve

        Removing the MiQ mandate seems to suggest otherwise.

        • weka 4.2.2.1

          you obviously haven't been paying attention.

          • The Chairman 4.2.2.1.1

            Can you explain what you mean? I didn't understand your reply

            • weka 4.2.2.1.1.1

              no. I cannot be bothered explaining the governments current covid strategy to you. Whatever way you choose to interpret the changes to MIQ, it's incredibly clear that what we are trying to achieve currently is slowing the spread to protect the health system and give people time to get boostered. They've talked about this openly.

              • The Chairman

                I see what you mean now

                Whatever way you choose to interpret the changes to MIQ, it's incredibly clear…

                Yes, I took removing the MiQ mandates as a sign Labour were looking at letting it rip.

    • Treetop 4.3

      decreasing immunity with effectiveness

      This is why I will not line up for a fourth jab unless there is immunity and effectiveness. I can see mandates falling away due to decreasing immunity and effectiveness.

      I have not been boostered yet, due to a couple readings on my last complete blood count being out of range and the effectiveness of a booster.

      In the meantime until mandates are reduced or go I would like to see exemptions for vaccination to be widened. Just as there are conscientious objectors to war there are conscientious objectors to Covid vaccination.

      The Covid vaccine is not mandatory, but the mandates are. If a person will not get vaccinated the mandate is the problem. People will chose to go to high risk venues or not whether they are vaccinated or not.

  4. The Chairman 5

    My concern is the fear factor as numbers grow and how that could be used to drive through bad policy.

    We need to keep clam, not let the shock doctrine take hold and allow the use of bad policy.

    Be vigilant people.

    • Shanreagh 5.1

      No fear factor here but an intensifying case of 'getting sick if people pointing out a nion existent fear factoritis'

      We have had debates on here with another another poster who said we are all running round with our hair on fire out of fear. While we all checked

      A) to see if we were running

      B) to see if our hair was on fire

      we found nothing.

      Judging on past performance the Govt doesn't operate on fear but on looking at the science and making its decisions based on that.

      Though…plenty of 'shock horror' down at the protest……….

      and

    • Drowsy M. Kram 5.2

      Be vigilant people.

      You heard it first from The "more left than most" Chairman – that and "keep clam" laugh

  5. Govt with the long experience of policy around flattening the curve, protecting the hospitals from overload and now with lots of advice/policy around Omicron is surely not suddenly going to launch into bad policy based on fear.

  6. Here is a link to a study following US Veterans long term health after catching Covid. Because the US has a focus on looking after the health of their vets there is a pool of data that can be investigated.

    https://www.science.org/content/article/covid-19-takes-serious-toll-heart-health-full-year-after-recovery

    'The results are “stunning … worse than I expected, for sure,” says Eric Topol, a cardiologist at Scripps Research. “All of these are very serious disorders. … If anybody ever thought that COVID was like the flu this should be one of the most powerful data sets to point out it’s not.” He adds that the new study “may be the most impressive Long Covid paper we have seen to date.” "

    NB This covered the time of Covid Alpha. March 2020 January 2021

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 8

    For those who are missing the whole point anout Omicron

    This is latest NSW weekly report ( for last week of january , its not released till mid february)

    https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/weekly-reports.aspx

    'There were 220 deaths in people diagnosed with COVID-19'. 110,000 news cases in a week.

    Pro rata for NZs smaller population of 5 mill compared to NSW 8 mill that would scaled down to around 140 per week

    Thats scary as we are only at 50 for the last 2 years . Its politically unaceptable to let it rise to over 100 per week

  8. adam 9

    NZ is crap with long term illness. The lack of funding for pain clinics and other long term treatments is just the tip of the iceberg. Long Covid is just going to join the list of lack of support, aid and help this society gives to the long term ill.

    Just look at how crappy our medical cannabis laws have panned out. It's worse now for people with long term condition to obtain medical cannabis than it was before the law change. A law that we were told would make it better, just one more example of our utter crap treatment of people with long term illness.

  9. Subliminal 10

    Well, if you thought that omicron was going to be the end and now focus on getting back to normal, think again. Its starting to look like a new variant of omicron, BA.2, is becoming dominant, with infection rates up to 1.4 times the current BA.1, higher viral loads and increased ability to infect lungs, meaning more covd induced pneumonia and the resulting longer stays in hospital that overload health systems and of course, more deaths. At least we havent quite thrown out our mask wearing yet because the vaccine and previous infection appear to have little effect. MIQ may be needed for a little longer too.

  10. McFlock 11

    On the plus side, there is research underway on pan-coronavirus vaccines. One jab, many strains.

    And just for the wellington rabble, one of 'em is being developed by the US military and actually involves nanoparticles. lol

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