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New Year. Good News.

Written By: - Date published: 5:43 pm, January 1st, 2022 - 92 comments
Categories: covid-19, health, science - Tags: , , , ,

The following are numbers related to Covid in South Africa. The article the numbers come from is here.

But I want to begin by reiterating a point that many here-a-bouts are determined to push back on. So, from the link (emphasis added)-

For triage purposes, Netcare’s policy is to test all admitted patients for COVID-19 with reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction or, from wave 2 onward, a rapid antigen test obtained from a nasopharyngeal swab. All patients hospitalized with a positive COVID-19 result were included

And I’ll add this from Saint Fauci speaking on MSNBC about child hospitalisation numbers in the USA-

…but the other important thing is that if you look at the children who are hospitalised, many of them are hospitalised with Covid, as opposed to because of Covid. And what we mean by that, if a child goes in the hospital, they automatically get tested for Covid, and they get counted as a Covid hospitalised individual when in fact they may go in for a broken leg, or appendicitis, or something like that. So it’s over counting the number of children who are called hospitalised with Covid as opposed to because of Covid.

Okay. Now that’s out of the way, here are the figures and numbers from Netcare, comparing the different Covid waves in South Africa.

https://cdn.jamanetwork.com/ama/content_public/journal/jama/0/jld210090t1_1640796864.78252.png?Expires=1643905881&Signature=tKkCBsOrdwyEMDQUpNXz12p2ifkHutky9Q4E0u0ocgH3K0f6s2OXuWM9Ps1WftdbRfQ2GCpSLccMj5zMBesidZxspS5ApdzEu7OAXZ3C~zJp3Ic5HpHh36jaRmEJWelEiPuFqhL8251i8FkJXozvVUaLbHz9fm6t6tUUV-HLByWm7ssHN6C8rJLnp92fKCzBtd4CHGHoET1T3Emsu3ghf0zxWd2cKuu-FTvtZUbgZA3UcNVbiwHZGfEGZNy9024j5iPAeZSsI4toewAfUCsLyKGtlfpZ1DGVleethzwOERKeMUeZLZMDW9KXrCAwn7Hy4JEZ5piEe3LmWpVjUVJMDg__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAIE5G5CRDK6RD3PGA

and

https://cdn.jamanetwork.com/ama/content_public/journal/jama/0/jld210090t2_1640796864.79383.png?Expires=1643905881&Signature=kwiWQN6YvNc6H1xtxPcsLULbXyITUTMm8DQTRPqrZhw5h0ijWgxHMsS0vFMohsjAhbwtYH1BvUGyjMrDsDOo4JEyXWOC0JvJ-Er5-JI4thIN3qR5T9aQaRmA5C69XQadwGmZ13E~H7xWHw0VOfGI1nqVhrfrQ52cU7I960VBr5N0ngpb3GDn-AnJ0RCHlMD3p5Ix6bT96grjw478HW9Gfo3J70jsU3ZvNwa~BLtBZFtK~jPuTdDUxOva58wcljgBQ1A6JpF9-hqISn4w2IAOQyu2zP~4Zbs5QLUaUH0JxVMCZppwB95o8sKitpFRYUADl6Ort9~T--8Jm0IPvA1S1Q__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAIE5G5CRDK6RD3PGA

So, just to be abundantly clear, all of the above figures are for patients in hospital for any reason who have returned a +ve test for Covid, and who are receiving various levels of care for any condition and have tested +ve for Covid.

In spite of the above, and in spite of that same basic pattern repeating across various countries as Omicron displaces the far more harmful Delta ( some might suggest Omicron would get FDA approval if only someone would bang it into a syringe) , I suspect Covidian Cultists will reach for the petrol canister and the matches just to prove they were, and are correct to be running around like their hair’s on fire.

92 comments on “New Year. Good News. ”

  1. I guess we are all entitled to our view……I almost always disregard anything where the point cannot be made without disparaging comments eg

    'covidian cultists'

    'Saint Fauci'

    Having read enough RW US junk about Covid I do get a pretty accurate 'spidery' feeling when this kind of terminology (above) is used as it is part & parcel of the way Covid is dismissed as non existent or minimised over there.

    What is the real objection? Is it that we may have the traffic lights changing, we might not be able to open the borders so the students and tourists can come back? or, or (insert any RW concern)

    From a public health point of view, to me it matters not if the Covid was found before or after someone went to hospital. We are talking trends, the reach of the virus etc. So if a child with a broken leg from a suburb that hitherto was not known for having Covid comes to the hospital then two things (at least) will happen:

    1) the individual is treated for a broken leg it will be coded in the hospital coding as a broken leg

    plus

    2 coded for a Covid infection (Covid is a notifiable disease)

    Other things that may happen are that the child's accident will be looked at to make sure there is no hint of assault by caregivers, and

    The Covid teams will analyse the covid results, initiate household tests and may find other cases of Covid. Seeing as the existence of these was triggered by a child going to hospital with a broken leg then you could, on the basis of your argument thus far, make a case for all of these Covid sufferers not to be counted either.

    If we were researching children with broken legs in a particular place we will look up and count the broken leg coding. We would not disregard it because the child had Covid as well.

    If we are looking at patterns, trends, possible outliers for Covid we would look up and count the Covid.

    So both illnesses/conditions are treated.

    So what say a child comes in with earache/ear infections and then is found to have Covid.

    Earache may or may not be a symptom of child Covid infections. Again both the conditions will be treated and coded separately.

    Would it matter if a child came in with a broken leg and TB another infectious notifiable disease? Would we not count the TB because the immediate presenting feature was a broken leg? or a STI?

    It is not beyond imagining that a child/ren may present with abdominal discomfort and it turns out that they have a Covid infection, it might be that small children may fall over frequently when they have Covid……so a child may present with a large number of bruises and clumsiness and be found to have Covid.

    What say, if we adopt a rule that says only single causes will be counted and a child with a sore stomach perhaps constipated or with diarrhea comes in, is found to have Covid, is seriously affected and dies. We only count it as a sore stomach.

    The point is I know of no-one who is running around with their hair on fire about Omicron. Most of the ones I know (lay people) are rightly concerned/interested about how this latest variant may turn out. It seems to be one of huge numbers because of it's high transmissibility and this translates into larger numbers possibly in hospitals but with less serious illnesses.

    But we just don't know.

    So we keep on being careful until we do.

    So we (meaning the NZ Health Service) count and analyse Covid cases whenever and however they come across across them.

    In other words we make haste slowly and carefully.

    We let the scientists and public health people do their bit, they know more than we do. They then advise the Govt and the Govt puts its thinking cap on about mitigations and how workable and acceptable they may be.

    • Bill 1.1

      The sub-text of the post pretty much lays out how, even by Fauci's admission now, "project fear" has involved inflating numbers that legacy media can and does run with in order to create and maintain a climate of fear.

      Hug it as a cultist would if you will, but don't expect anything but derision from me – too many lives have been turned upside down by the bullshit and nonsense that people clinging to a perverse sense of comfort continues to enable.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 1.2

      Hug it as a cultist would if you will…

      Intriguing, imho. Happy New Year Everyone. "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman.

      Covid 19 Omicron outbreak in Antarctic: Belgian polar researchers at remote station infected [31 December 2021]
      An alien life form infects workers on an Antarctic station in the cult Sci fi chiller, which starred Kurt Russell. Unlike the film, none of the infected Belgians have exhibited any severe symptoms – let alone been transformed into bloodthirsty beasts that can only be killed by incineration.

      Australia starts 2022 with record COVID cases
      The outbreak has affected sporting events. Australia batsman Travis Head will miss the fourth Ashes cricket test against England in Sydney next week after testing positive for COVID.

      Travis Head will miss the fourth Ashes cricket test” – Oh, the humanity! Strange days.

      COVID-19 vaccine opponents start holding protests outside churches that take safety measures against the virus [26 Dec. 2021]
      "We need to stand up for God because that is not it," Coelho told the activists. "God connects; he does not separate. So anywhere there is a disconnection, you know that God is not around. It's so sad to see this in the churches today in Canada. It's insane what's happening here—time to take a fierce stand here."

      The other speaker, Taylor van Haastert, spoke about the vaccine as being the "mark of the beast", noting that in Sweden, people are receiving microchips in their hands that can be picked up by cellphones.

      "Now, you're going to need the mark of the beast to buy a can of pop," Taylor van Haastert said.

    • Louis 1.3

      Shanreagh +1 on your comments

  2. RedLogix 2

    If you want the most reliable takeaway from the data presented by Bill's OP , it's in that last row of the second table – the one that lists 'Deaths' as a percentage of 'total patients hospitalised in a serious condition'.

    • First Wave (Original variant) 19.7%
    • Second Wave 25.5%
    • Third Wave (Delta) 29.1%
    • Fourth Wave (Omicron) 2.7%

    That's at least ten times less severe than Delta. This is a very reliable metric because it's essentially a ratio derived from cohort populations of people who are sick enough to be hospitalised. The most likely confounding factor will be the likely improvement in hospital treatment over time – but given that COVID really only responds well to early treatment I'd suggest this isn't a strong factor here.

    While severity is one measure of how concerned we should be, it doesn't tell us what fraction of people who do get infected with Omicron will go on to become seriously ill. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks, but so far the signal is promising.

    • Shanreagh 2.1

      Yes, I saw that ……but while there is a temptation to extrapolate that to NZ, it is not terribly smart to do so just yet.

      1 It covers just one country

      2 We may be better waiting quietly until we have a better picture of how Omicron is behaving in Australia, UK & US.

      3 High vaccination rates may help

      4 The takeaway for me from the newshas been the huge surging numbers in Australia, US & UK. Even if it is less severe the impact on health systems of the sheer numbers will be important to manage carefully.

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        It covers one country

        The nature of this severity metric makes this less of a concern. While it's possible the absolute numbers will differ from other nations, the ratio between the severity of the prior three waves and Omicron will likely remain very similar.

        We may be better waiting quietly until we have a better picture of how Omicron is behaving in Australia, UK & US.

        Yeah – but how much longer? End of January would seem reasonable to me.

        High vaccination rates may help

        Not quite sure what you exactly mean here, and while the vaccination/natural immunity situation will be very different between SA and NZ, this doesn't apply to this severity metric. But if anything NZ should be a lot better off than SA.

        And yes Omicron surges very rapidly, which is a function of it's extremely high R value. And while this presents a challenge to 'flattening the curve', it's also a very positive feature because it means it's way less likely any new variant will outcompete it any time soon.

      • mauī 2.1.2

        The takeaway from "the news" tonight for me was that naughty people weren't wearing masks on New Years Eve and that an anti-vax cafe owner believes the vaccine turns you into an alien or something.

  3. Ed 3

    Covidian Cultists

    Saint Fauci

    Is this the language of a reasoned argument or that of the anti-vax brigade and Q Anon conspiracy theorists?

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      That's what I'm wondering also…

      • Shanreagh 3.1.1

        Well as I said it is that kind of language that abounds in the memes and posts of RW (Republican Party) in the USA. There are hundreds of dismaying memes about Dr Fauci. They obviously don't know that he the equivalent of a NZ public servant, no more no less. To denigrate a person for doing their job is crazy.

        And the 'Covidian cultists', particularly the word Covidian had an unfortunate parallel, not sure if it was deliberate or not with the (Branch) Davidian belief. At the core of their beliefs, the Branch Davidians, an offshoot of the Davidians, believed the apocalypse was coming.

        As I said I have not seen an apocalypse coming but Bill is worried that people are figuratively running around with their hair on fire and perhaps the concern over Omicron that he keeps seeing looks like apocalyptic thinking. I can't say I have seen any seen people running around worried* though of course it is a part of a conversation about Covid.

        * Rather than being worried the conversation has been less than complimentary about our DJ friend ……

        • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.1

          I don't see people "running around with their hair on fire", more, ordinary folk making reasoned decisions. That's what I see.

          • Julian Richards 3.1.1.1.1

            Accepting without question a domestic health opportunity passport to participate in society is not a reasoned decision. Its rooted in fear, anger and hate…. For no good reason.

            • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.1.1.1

              "Accepting" something, is a fearful, angry and hateful action?

              How odd you might think that!

              Are you sure the people here you direct your comments too accepted "without question", the "domestic health opportunity passport"?

              You may be extrapolating…wildly.

    • Bill 3.2

      Hard data. Make of what you will.

      Now, what's the argument? Do you even know, or are you playing at ye olde nonsense where any reason that might allow for non-engagement/dismissal is grasped at?

      I'm no anti-vaxxer. Nor am I a Q Anon or Russia Hoax conspiracy theorist – jist sayin'.

      So now that you're knowing that, you can engage in substantive debate any time you're ready.

      • Robert Guyton 3.2.1

        All Q Anon followers (in NZ) say they are not Q Anon followers. Just saying'.

      • Shanreagh 3.2.2

        I have already.

        I think the concern about hospitalisations and how Covid is counted is odd and I don't understand why there is this concern. After all to paraphrase Gertrude Stein's 'A rose' saying 'Covid is covid is covid'.

        I think it is too early to be making judgements about Omicron on the basis of the experience of one country. The severity is one thing but the transmissibility is another. Australia, UK and US are having huge surges and these if not well managed could put our whole health system at risk ie including GPs who may be caring for patients in the community.

        • McFlock 3.2.2.1

          A country with a median age ten years lower than NZ.

          SA apparently has a much younger population than NZ.

          Maybe there are other factors at play, maybe not.

          • Bill 3.2.2.1.1

            There are '1001' differences between S.A and NZ. And probably a different '1001' differences between S.A. and the UK – where the same basic pattern of remarkably high infection rates and incredibly low serious case numbers is being replicated.

            • McFlock 3.2.2.1.1.1

              UK doesn't seem to be as optimistic as you. Probs all part of the international conspiracy to make people worried, for some reason.

              • Bill

                So, contrast that 'news' reporting and the sense of panic and fear it promotes with the actual numbers and conclude whatever you want to conclude…

                Around 80% of English hospital admissions with coronavirus are admitted for other reasons

                And bearing in mind that a covid death is any death for any reason occurring 28 days after a +ve test result and any death for any reason where covid is also detected…

                UK, 24th December

                Omicron hospital patients, 366 (ie, people in hospital for any reason who test +ve for covid)

                Total omicron deaths, 29 (see above)

                UK, 27th December

                Omicron hospital patients, 407 Total omicron deaths, 39

                Omicron cases + 45,307 = 159,932

                UK, 29th December

                Omicron hospital patients, + 261 + 98 = 766

                Total omicron deaths, + 10 + 4 = 53

                https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-omicron-daily-overview

                • McFlock

                  To heck with the "reporting", we know if it bleeds it leads.

                  If omicron isn't a problem, why the new facilities? Because the NHS has too much money?

                  What's in it for the medical profession around the world to play into the "fear mongering", going so far as to ask (beg) for public health measures and temporary facilities? Why are people from nurses to unit directors crying out for people to take at least some tiny steps to preserve their own goddamned lives? Are they in on the con, or just stupid?

                  They have access to the same data and publications as you – likely more. But it's ok, Bill's done the math after a month and can announce to the world that omicron is nothing to worry about. Let's have a street party when omicron's on the move in NZ.

                  1 in a million dead per day? Pah, 'tis but a flesh wound.

                  • Bill

                    What are you on about McFlock? Who's "begging" for public health measures and temporary facilities?

                    From the article you linked – “We hoped never to have to use the original Nightingales, (that were closed in the spring after treating relatively few people) and I hope we never to have to use these new hubs,” Powis said" & Sajid Javid, Britain’s health minister, said that while he, too, hoped the surge hubs at hospitals would not have to be used, “it is absolutely right that we prepare for all scenarios and increase capacity.”

                    Casually reporting on preparedness for a worst possible scenario is one thing. Reporting on preparedness as though the sky was about to fall in (ie- fear mongering) is quite another.

                    Omicron, it seems, presents as a common cold, and people who contract it do not need oxygen or ventilation in anywhere near the numbers that required such treatments in the Delta wave. We don't know just how low those numbers are, because people on oxygen or ventilation for all and any other reasons are lumped in with "Covid" if they show a +ve result.

                    • McFlock

                      Meanwhile, anyone familiar with what they're talking about without your confidence in the safety of omicron is preparing for the worst.

                      “Not as bad as delta” doesn’t mean that the numbers are “good news”.

        • Bill 3.2.2.2

          A hospital system isn't swamped by Covid cases if 50% or 60% or even 80% of the people in hospital with Covid are only receiving treatment for other ailments. That's why the reported numbers and the intended effect on the general populace matter.

          • Shanreagh 3.2.2.2.1

            A hospital system isn't swamped by Covid cases if 50% or 60% or even 80% of the people in hospital with Covid are only receiving treatment for other ailments.

            I am not getting the feeling that the adults going to the hospitals say in London are all going with something else and then coincidentally being found to have Covid.

            Because of its infectious nature people with Covid will not be nursed in open wards……they may have their own separate wards and PPE gear will be worn. Rosters will be worked out differently. When some thing different to the usual way a hospital operates had to be instituted there are costs. People with Covid with co morbidities such as a child with a broken leg with Covid who has seasonal bronchitis or asthma will definitely be nursed and treated for Covid while in hospital.

            • Bill 3.2.2.2.1.1

              I am not getting the feeling that..

              Why don't you go and dig out the numbers to see if your feelings are correct or not?

              • Poission

                Seems the heuristic feeling is likely in 2 out of 3 cases ie 67%.

                • Bill

                  I don't know why those totals and the 2/3rds number is so different to the 20% and only some hundreds derived from official stats provided in response to McFlock above.

                  • McFlock

                    Whereas I don't know how you arrived at 20% from the link you posted at 9:56pm.

                    Seemed to just be the daily count.

                    • Bill

                      Perhaps I threw up the incorrect link from the description and links below this video. If so, my bad. At about 10 minutes in, the NHS figures are presented – incidental cases sits at 80% and is on a positive trajectory.

                    • McFlock

                      lols when in doubt, bring up youtube.

                      [RL: In general TS culture encourages cites. Sneering at the source with no attempt at an argument is both dimwitted and discouraged.]

                    • weka

                      lols when in doubt, bring up youtube.

                      This seems a legitimate criticism. If the good doctor is citing himself, why not use that instead of expecting people to watch video and dig it out.

                    • RedLogix

                      @weka

                      If the good doctor is citing himself,

                      Campbell gives reference links in the clip description to the data sources he is using. They are very easy to find.

                      The only occasion I recall him 'citing himself' was one video a month or so back when he drew attention to the two nurse training manuals he has written.

                      Have we changed policy to no longer encouraging cites?

                  • Poission

                    The numbers (2/3 from NHS ) are troublesome for the proposition,often when a neat statistical fact puncturing the proposition,the narrative changes to spin.

                    Of the 8,321 Covid patients in hospital on December 28 only 67%were being primarily treated for the virus

                    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10358545/Proportion-NHS-beds-taken-incidental-Covid-patients-rises-33-figures-show.html

                    • Bill

                      I assume that's for both Omicron and Delta, meaning the number obscures the picture on what's happening around Omicron numbers in hospital.

                      Or have I misunderstood your comment?

              • Koreropono

                I wish there was a 'like' button to show my appreciation of this response 🙂

              • Shanreagh

                'Ya know I'm not going to bother…… Why does it matter how or where or when a person is tested and is found to have Covid. They could be standing on their head in the ladies loos at Wimbledon……or they could have gone to an ED, as long as they go and get/are tested/treated if need be, somewhere.

                Poisson's figures are good enough for me.

                Even though it is/may be less severe, the numbers reported in other countries may have the potential to overwhelm.

                So my view is it is better to be cautious, as we are doing.

                I trust the MOH a lot more than those who reach for the anti Fauci playbook and Covid minimisation espoused by the US right.

                I am not seeing fear or people running around scared…..far from it.

                Caution is not the same as fear.

                • Bill

                  I trust the MOH a lot more than those who reach for the anti Fauci playbook and Covid minimisation espoused by the US right.

                  You do understand there is left wing critique too, yes? And also (more or less) a-political critiques from academia and medical communities? And you also know that Fauci served in Trump's admin and that Trump launched the "warpspeed' initiative that allowed pharma to body swerve the regulatory framework that exists for the testing and trialing of new drugs?

                  And, of course, you'll also be aware of the unprecedented censorship that has been applied to any and all who contradict the official Covid narrative.

                  Or maybe you're just tribalist? Maybe, like Biden and Harris, you would have been against injections if Trump was in the White House, because, y'know, medicine is just 'right wing' politics versus 'left wing' politics, and sensible decisions are made on the basis of perceived personality?

                  • Shanreagh

                    Good grief.

                    I am not a tribal political beast that I would let nonsense would override my commonsense. particularly if the diminishing of commonsense came per a political party.

                    Anyone advising vaccination for Covid would get my support just as anyone supporting masking, distancing, hygiene, scanning would. I support the mandates for front facing (public) jobs and also support there being a choice in vaccines so that people who are uneasy about mRNA can be vaccinated.

                    I don't support over blown views about so-called censorship if that means we get to give full rein to the nutter fringe anti vaxxers.

                    Some governments are handling this outbreak with a lesser loss of life than others, whether that was the correct emphasis may possibly be debated by some.

                    Trump was a person of many parts, he did authorise the vaccination initiative but was fiendishly slow in other aspects. He waged a campaign of minimisation for much longer than he should have with the 'China flu, Wu flu, 'we'll be through this by the end of summer'. He was lucky he had a PS of the calibre of Dr Fauci advising him.

        • RedLogix 3.2.2.3

          I think the concern about hospitalisations and how Covid is counted is odd and I don't understand why there is this concern.

          It's a concern because there is a substantial gap between the number of people who will test positive on a PCR test, and those with symptoms severe enough to be hospitalised with. Keep in mind the vast majority of people who have ever contracted COVID were either asymptomatic or had a mild illness they were never treated for.

          Then include the statistical reality that something like 80% of single 'positive tests' will arise from people who don't have COVID – then it's my view that 'detected infections' are an inflated and worthless metric. It tells us nothing useful about actual infections, nor how dangerous a disease currently is. The fatality rate of COVID-19 is not a constant but varies over time and place enormously in response to changing conditions. It cannot be interpreted meaningfully and it should never be used to guide policy or strategy.

          Yet it's the one that govts and media have consistently led with – and you have to ask why.

          • Shanreagh 3.2.2.3.1

            I don't agree with much of what you are saying to support the idea that Covid in hospitals if not the prime reason for admitting should not be counted.

            Keep in mind the vast majority of people who have ever contracted COVID were either asymptomatic or had a mild illness they were never treated for.

            I don't know that this is the case…..have you figures/reference. I have known a couple who were not taken to hospital but were utterly and completely miserable for at least a couple of weeks, long covid is a point too. They had GP consults. Does that count as treatment?

            Because we do not know what we are dealing with until after the event I am not a fan of minimising day to day impacts or affects. The figures put out by MOH do have breakdowns across a range of metrics. I don't get the feeling having looked at these over many months that they are over stated. Consistency is important.

          • KJT 3.2.2.3.2

            How many times do we have to show your "80 of positive tests" is bullshit?

            • RedLogix 3.2.2.3.2.1

              As many times as you fail to explain why.

              I spent a while yesterday searching around on how various national authorities treat the distinction between 'positive tests' and 'confirmed tests' and there is a lot of variation out there. Some do mention the need for a second test, but most do not. In many cases its "one positive test and you isolate", which is clearly a faulty model. In general it seems that you only get a confirming test if you arrive at a hospital for any reason, but that's a different and much smaller population again.

              Your concern about how NZ tests only those who're likely to have been exposed or have symptoms and this changes the false positive rate is covered off here.

              • Nic the NZer

                Its clearly a meaningful metric. Its a measurement of the people who contracted covid whether or not they became ill, but importantly its the useful number if your modelling disease spread. In NZ its also been telling our health ministry which kinds of health measures are appropriate (e.g when to end or impose public health measures), without it we can't make that decision in any particularly objective way.

                People generally understand how this applies to them via the question, would you rather share a neighbouring plane seat with a) someone you saw sneeze? Or b) someone with a positive PCR test?

                PCR tests have a low false positive rate so a person failing one has likely had or has covid, and as a result we are isolating them to minimise further spread.

                The main reason this line of argument gets involved is that they are not diagnostic tests so failing a PCR test does not mean that person will show symptoms, become ill or is necessarily infectious.

                Unfortunately there is no test which can tell you the profile of when someone is infectious and not.

              • Nic the NZer

                I had a careful look through how your applying Bayes theory but I don't think it makes sense.

                You have P(A) probability of having covid and P(B) probability of a positive PCR test. The false positive rate of the tests doesn't come into it in this case, except that P(B) is likely slightly higher than P(A) because of it. But in this case what you were saying about people seeking a test due to symptoms is not involved.

                Otherwise what are the events A and B. I can't see a definition which isn't a compound (e.g probability of having covid and going to get a test) and if the events are not independent you can't really apply the formula.

                Yes, if everyone is tested at random the positive test results would clearly be lower, than for those seeking a test.

                • RedLogix

                  I sort of follow that, but you seem to have omitted the Bayesian part altogether. I could try to put it into more words, but the key idea is that an accurate test is not always a very predictive test.

                  Here is a totally non-COVID explanation:

                  • Nic the NZer

                    Once you know the categories then the other probabilities P(A|B) and P(B|A) are defined. Though you would need some idea of those probabilities to apply the formula.

                    • RedLogix

                      Care to give some concrete example of what you mean?

                    • Nic the NZer []

                      I don't have one. But all I'm saying is I can't make sense of applying bayes formula to covid tests. But if you can define events A and B then maybe you have a point.

                      But as far as I am aware a 4% false positive rate (or less) is really not a concern especially as weak positives usually go through a follow up test to confirm.

        • RedLogix 3.2.2.4

          Well here's a current linky out of Australia:

          Closer to home in NSW, while case numbers continue to soar, driven by the transmissibility of the variant, hospitalisation numbers have remained relatively steady, as has the number of patients admitted to intensive care as a result of the strain.

          During the state’s Delta outbreak in mid-2021, a quarter of hospitalised patients were in the ICU whereas, at the moment, it’s less than one-in-10.

          The number of ICU patients in NSW requiring a ventilator is also down. During the Delta outbreak, the percentage of people in intensive care who required ventilation was over 20 per cent; now, only 2 per cent of patients require the use of one.

          “Hospitalisations are rising, but not at the same rate as newly reported cases, even allowing for a time lag, as people who go on to develop serious symptoms usually do so a week or more into their infection,” chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, Catherine Bennett, told news.com.au on Friday.

          Professor Bennett pointed to early studies published in both the UK and South Africa in December, which also suggest that people who contract the variant are far less likely to face severe illness and admission to hospital than those who contract the Delta variant.

          Both countries have also reported “that Omicron infections that do lead to a hospital admission result in shorter stays on average, and this also helps keep numbers down on any given day, relative to other variants”, she said.

          Or another:

          Covid-19, he added, “is now the most treatable respiratory virus known to man”, and despite its transmissibility, Omicron will likely have a lower case-to-fatality ratio than the flu, “and not a particularly bad flu at that”.

          As immunologist Sir John Bell, who was a lead scientist on the AstraZeneca vaccine, concluded earlier this week, the strain is not “the same disease we were seeing a year ago”.

          “The horrific scenes that we saw a year ago – intensive care units being full, lots of people dying prematurely – that is now history in my view, and I think we should be reassured that that’s likely to continue,” the Regis Professor of Medicine at Oxford University told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Wednesday.

          The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Professor Martin Hibberd agreed.

          “The virus will evolve itself out of the pandemic strain very soon and become milder, more transmissible to the point where you may only need to think about vaccinating the more vulnerable members of the population,” Dr Tang told The Guardian.

          • Shanreagh 3.2.2.4.1

            This is in line with the reporting I have read.

            Though the arguments here seems to be that we swipe one third of the numbers reporting & testing for covid off the total because they went to the ED with something else.

            The effects of Omicron are not only felt at the hospitals but in other workplaces as people fall sick and have to isolate because of the transmissibility.

            There have been impacts on transport services. 'Luckily' these have fallen at a time when travel is traditionally low.

            https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-southern-suspends-london-victoria-services-until-10-january-as-coronavirus-causes-nationwide-rail-disruption-12506386

              • Bill

                Thanks for that. In conjunction with a link Anne posted, there's an obvious "rowing back" on the part of legacy media – Good.

                The bit that still has me shaking my head is persisting with the push to vaccinate all and sundry, including children who only had a 1 in 2 million chance of dying from Delta and whose odds will have gone out even further if we're looking at Omicron.

                In perspective, the Delta fatality rate for children was less than for seasonal flu.

                From the link – And in the UK, researchers have said three quarters of all colds will be Covid. Got a sniffle? You probably have Covid-19.

                Anyone care to remind me what we're protecting otherwise healthy adults and children from again? We know that Omicron walks around x2 injections. We know that x3 injections might offer some short term protection from infection. We also know Omicron tends to present as a cold – an Omicron cold?

                We also know we have had very questionable data fed back to us on the safety profile/ side effects of the injections, and that where injections are concerned, having x3 or x4 injections does not necessarily equate to being 3x or 4x better for our immune systems (or even any good for our immune systems at all) – that there is not a linear relationship.

                The narrative is crumbling and that's good, but I'm not holding my breath for the government to volte face and disseminate useful and basic public health care information that might interfere with anyone's bottom line…

            • KJT 3.2.2.4.1.2

              Is Bill also suggesting that if they went to hospital with COVID, they should not appear in the "broken leg" statistics, if they arrive with COVID and are found to have a broken leg after arrival?

              • Shanreagh

                Hmmmn that is where the logic falls down. Count both, code both, deal with both. Interrogate the data of both. After. Don't make a decision not to collect or count prior to anyone knowing the full effect.

                I don't see the rationale for minimising the numbers who do appear in hospitals. Even if we do swipe one third off the total hospitalisations this is like a 'whack a mole' and the effects of large number with Omicron will be found elsewhere with strained transport and other links as people, many of whom are not in hospital, isolate because of the transmissibility.

              • Julian Richards

                @KJT pull you head out of your 'something'. Bill is clearly suggesting we need a lot more transparency around reporting.

                I.e. the MoH reports to the media numbers of people in hospital high care as % with two shots, % with one shot (1 shot categorization as vaccinated, weird, as you need two to be vaccinated). And the % with no shots, but the the kicker is those in the % of no shots includes children under 12 yrs and those medically exempt from Pfizer jab(do you know how you get exemption?) … And then they proudly proclaim that the unvaccinated are clogging up the system. The daily averages in NZ have been sitting around 60-65% unvaccinated in high care, 35-40% vaccinatied in high care.

                But if children who are at little to know risk from covid19 (shouldn't need to cite this as its widely accepted science worldwide by now), then Houston we have a problem in the reporting of those nasty non-jabbed taking your tax payer care from the jabbed (propaganda, manipulated facts).

                Wouldn't it be wonderful if the reporting was carried out with more transparency, which is what Bill is saying we need! I.e. Numbers in high care of eligible individuals with one shot, two shots, three shots. Numbers in high care with no shots separating eligible adults, non-eligible children (below 12yrs as defined by the government) and the medically exempt (exemption from vaccination in NZ gained through vaccination from viral vector trial vaccine).

                And perhaps include in these daily calls to the pulpit, the numbers who are incidentally found as positive cases (asymptomatic) along side those in hospital for symptomatic covid19 reasons.

                This would paint a very different picture, but then the media would have a problem… How to spin the spin… To get the booster jab upon booster jabs (*bing, you are now red) , that are clearly not needed for the vast majority, especially with omricon.

                • KJT

                  I find the reporting transparent enough.

                  It seems only anti-vaccers, right wing politicians and those who want to perpetuate the narrative that the MOH, and the Government are lying to us, have a comprehension problem.

                  Particurly annoying is those twits that claim, ” the Government is hiding something” when the Government has just told us in a daily press conference, or it is clearly available on the MOH, or COVID, websites.

                  • Shanreagh

                    Yes re the figures……those in hospital are shown with their vaccination status in the MOH updates at 1.00pm. There is a myriad of information on this site (below) to look at but I get the feeling

                    'Nah that's too easy I'd rather perpetuate my own narrative thanks without reference to pesky figures.'

                    https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-data-and-statistics/covid-19-case-demographics

                    • julian richards

                      Thank you for providing that link, I hoped you would.

                      For both yourself and @KJT, you need to understand this type of information from the MoH clearly muddies the water and blurs the picture! Can you spot the two very different data fields in the link provided and how this has been used? I bet you gloss over them and only see the numbers you want! See they provide two differant sets of data depending on what picture they want to create. Data from August 2021 on-wards and data from March 2020 on-wards.

                      To give you an example from the data (link provided), and seeing as though we're operating at extremes, I'll provide the two for you both:

                      60+ years of age – 7% total covid19 cases, 74% of deaths, 15% total Hospitalizations/ICU, 27% of total ICU.

                      0-19 years of age – 32% of total covid19 cases, less than 1% of deaths (this case is being questioned, as it should), 10% hospitalizations/ICU, 2% ICU.

                      26.5% hospitalizations are vaccinated (media says 1 shot also included in this group) and 66% are non-vaxxed. But don't forget the children, Oh won't somebody think of the children! If we then include children (7.5%) in the non-vaxxed group as the media does (muddy waters) then we get 70% non vaxxed of total hospitalized and 30% vaxxed.

                      But see the problems get worse when you look back at the above stats provided from the link, see children are listed as 10% of all hospitalizations/ICU in NZ during the covid19 pandemic, yet not one child (under 12 yrs) and actually only 1 person below 19 years of age has been in ICU, and this is not the one child attributed as dying from covid19.

                      Then 60+ years of age 15% of all hospitalizations/ICU…..But actually accounts for 27% of all ICU covid patients(58 ICU patients in total during the entire pandemic in NZ).

                      Then lets make an assumption because they won't let us know the actual facts, lets assume hospitalizations (580) are incidental cases picked up on admission and ICU cases(58) are actual covid19 admissions, that's 10% of hospitalizations are actual covid19 cases. See but this MoH website also identifies 712 people hospitalized/ICU since the beginning of the pandemic (March 2020), the 580 number comes from August 2021 thereafter.

                      See the problem with how the media manipulates and reports!!??

                    • Shanreagh

                      'Then lets make an assumption because they won't let us know the actual facts, lets assume hospitalizations (580) are incidental cases picked up on admission and ICU cases(58) are actual covid19 admissions, that's 10% of hospitalizations are actual covid19 cases. See but this MoH website also identifies 712 people hospitalized/ICU since the beginning of the pandemic (March 2020), the 580 number comes from August 2021 thereafter.'

                      I am not comparing the figures from the daily briefings with the MOH demographics. The daily briefings are a snapshot in time (and they have recently changed the time of day that data is collected from and to).

                      For instance in the daily briefings, since the cases in hospital expanded to include Covid sufferers from other parts of NZ those who make up the figures of fully vaxxed, partially vaxxed and not eligible are only counted from the Northern wards ie those in the wider Auckland area.

                      As we do not yet have Omicron here in NZ, where the figures from the UK may show up to 1/3rd came to hospital with something else and Covid was later found, I don't think your comments are correct ie 580 in wards for something else and incidentally with Covid and 58 in ICU/HDU the only ones with 'real' covid.

                      We have had several cases over the course of the pandemic where EDs have instanced people turning up not knowing or suspecting they have Covid and finding out later and these have been such the exception that EDs have been publicising this in case other patients waiting had been affected. Then a woman, from memory with gang links, came in with something, was routinely tested for what ever hse came in with and Covid, but left and after was found to be Covid positive. Searching for her took place. All these occurred with the Delta and Alpha variants.

                      Knowing a little bit about how Covid is nursed, many turn up with Covid, ie mainly problems breathing, fevers ie the symptoms of the Covid viral infection and can be nursed in a ward ie the 580. That is they don't need to go to ICU.

                      There are a range of options for nursing in a ward including access to some forms of oxygen supplementation. If they have problems with that cannot be fixed in a ward setting, ie intractable breathing problems, problems with co-morbidities such as existing high blood pressure etc they may go to ICU or HDU.

                      Often people that need to be nursed in ICU/HDU no longer have the active Covid virus present but have the after effects of the virus so stiff lungs, sepsis, kidney problems. So the ones in wards are people who may be unwell with Covid, the ones in ICU/HDU are sicker and may need more specialised help with breathing etc ventilating, tracheotomy etc than is available in the wards.

                      I don't think it is useful to look at the daily figures and try and find them in the demographics, though they will be there.

                      What has happened with Delta and the numbers who are admitted to hospital with Covid and then to ICU does not extrapolate out to what we know now about Omicron. Then there are the people who have tested positive for Covid and are/were taken to isolation places MIQ and now can isolate at home, dealt with in the community. I think the majority of the NZ people who got Covid (and were tested) were dealt with either in MIQ/isolation or hospital wards/hospital ICU or HDU. There will be some who did not seek medical advice.

                      I tend to take the figures at face value ie collected by diligent hard working analysts from figures accessed from data collected by hard working lab workers who work from specimens collected (again by diligent, hard working nurses, phlebotomists etc etc.) While sometimes the media do get figures muddled this has not happened for a long time. Clearly they, MOH and we have become used to looking at the same format daily.

                      The MOH Demographics are specialist tables useful for health info nerds/nuts such as me. If there is something I don't understand from the daily briefings I will go to the MOH database. They report things as they are, no spin or misunderstandings.

                      The important thing though is we are still in the times of Delta, our community cases are Delta cases, our people in hospitals are with Delta. (At least I have not heard that anyone has been taken to hospital here in NZ from the border with an Omicron case)

                  • Julian Richards

                    Please link to the transparent reporting of covid infected patients in hospital, that gives the full breakdown of 'health status'.

                    You know, one shot, two shots, three shots, no shots (eligible for shots, children and medical exemptions noted separately).

                    Please, link for all of us here the transparent reporting you feel is widely available @KJT.

                    Accept the challenge and share with everyone.

                  • Louis

                    KJT +1

            • RedLogix 3.2.2.4.1.3

              Though the arguments here seems to be that we swipe one third of the numbers reporting & testing for covid off the total because they went to the ED with something else.

              Well the counterfactual to think about here is, if they had not gone to ED with that 'something else' – they would have not have appeared as a COVID statistic.

              While it seems perfectly reasonable for hospitals to test for COVID and record the results – it's a different matter to report them as a COVID case if that is not the primary cause of them being in hospital. Especially if they present with no COVID symptoms.

              • Descendant Of Smith

                "they would have not have appeared as a COVID statistic."

                Surely that should be may not as there is no way of telling the consequences of the early diagnosis e.g. as early action could now be put in place they did not require later intervention and or did not die. No different to early identification of cancer produces much better outcomes. A week or two later they may well have indeed presented. Alternatively they may well have felt a bit sick a few days and got tested elsewhere.

                It makes no sense at all to exclude them on the basis they didn't initially present. You conterfactual is not really a counterfactual at all because it has to assume, to exclude the person from the data, that the person would never get tested and neglects completely the notion that they may very well have got tested in the future if it hadn't been picked up at that point.

                • RedLogix

                  I was quite aware of that when I suggested the counterfactual – what you have introduced in response is a whole bunch of unknowables that don't take the argument anywhere. The clue is that you have to use the word 'may' a lot:

                  A week or two later they may well have indeed presented. Alternatively they may well have felt a bit sick a few days and got tested elsewhere.

                  But equally they may not have. And indeed I'd argue that on the basis that most C19 infections are asymptomatic or mild – the probability is they would not have. But that's about all you can say. What you can say with certainty is that if they presented with COVID symptoms later, then at that point they can be legitimately counted as a case. But not before.

      • Robert Guyton 3.2.3

        "Hard data. Make of what you will."

        You mean, "Hard data. Make of what you Bill will".

        • Shanreagh 3.2.3.1

          It is ironic that nothing that I read up until I read Bill's several posts about how we are all afraid and fearful made me even think that the coming of a new variant should make me fearful.

          Vaxxed and sensible am I missing something? Are those of us who think researchers will research, advisers will advise and decisionmakers make decisions as they have up until now and this will be enough, won't get us through this time? Are we supposed to be feeling fearful?

          Or, as I am thinking, is more the case this is a move to take away any clarity, cast a cloud of obscurity (eg the red herring about where/when people are showing up with Covid) and an attempt to go back to pre covid ie throwing the borders open anyone? Uncontrolled tourism and student entry from countries who do not have a record of good covid control? No thanks

          I've got no problems with the trajectory we are on…..waiting for research and carefully opening borders etc when it is safe to do so. We can be sensible and go out and about or we could join the mythical ones who are fearful. Again no thanks and yes to going out and about in a sensible way.

    • mary_a 3.3

      Ed (3) … yes

  4. KJT 4

    The obvious question, which Bill, of course, doesn't ask.

    With successive waves, the rate of hospitalisations, and deaths will reduce anyway, because the most susceptible in a population where COVID has been widespread have already either, died, recovered or been vaccinated.

    So that even if the new varient was more severe. The number hospitalised or dying will reduce

    It doesn't prove the new strain necessarily, is "milder".

  5. Just Saying 5

    I haven't commented here for ages.

    Since the covid stuff began, even well before, I'd come back here. Maybe my timing was off, but what I kept finding was groupthink. As far as the covid issues, that meant adherence to a strange party line that seemed to have begun as a democrat vs republican tribalism that managed to spread to allied-seeming tribes in NZ.

    Which seemed to interfere with the ability to think.

    'Our sideism' is not thought.

    So I'm glad to see this post. Agree or disagree it is the first sign of something important. This partisanship has really focussed light on what seems to be a really disturbing issue. Democracy ended. Not just for a reasonable period of responding to a crisis, in the manner necessary, but to an extreme degree and way past its use-by date. Censorship and scapegoating of scientists and other relevant authorities, as well as the public prevailed. Lies proliferated amidst an atmosphere of seemingly hyped fear and confusion. In NZ I watched in horror as the public seemed to collaborate in being treated like five year olds, predictably turning on the usual suspects, as well as anyone who asked any relevant questions.

    Maybe I missed the robust debate I had been hoping to find here. I didn't want to argue but it seemed that in the absence of debate, that was all that was left. And it made me very sad.

    • Blazer 5.1

      'SAD'…societal,anxiety,disorder….do not worry…Big Pharma have a cure for that…too!

      Xanax…..='find' a problem…provide a solution=$$$$$$.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        lol – Xanax…?

  6. Fran 6

    Thanks for this post Bill, finally some real sanity in this mess. I have been really disappointed at the shutting down of discussion about covid and the govt. response on this site. As a left wing site the acceptance of and often the cheerleading for the discrimination of the traffic light system, the mandating of a medical procedure for people to stay employed and all the other things we have been living through has blown my mind.

    So again, thank you Bill for starting the conversation about this.

    • Julian Richards 6.1

      @fran so very true!

      Bill seems to have retained his reason and sanity, thank goodness.

  7. Bill 7

    Thank you for the notes of encouragement peeps. To be honest, I'd stayed well away from here for much the same reason some of you are touting. But this shit has run so far and so deep that…well, fuck it. And I know that I'll get slammed in post after post after comment – so I really do appreciate the presence of you all.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Fenton's latest YT on the ONS data got taken down. I watched it last night before Big Brother got to it – it was perfectly sane and authoritative. You only have to scan his pre-COVID work to understand this guy is a bona-fide world authority on Causal Inference – which is why they're clearly afraid of what he's saying.

        • RedLogix 7.1.1.1

          Yes, thanks for that fresh link. It's the first time I've seen the YT censors in action like this in real time – and the question that it always raises in my mind is, "if I can see them doing this what else are they doing that I cannot see?"

          Which is a bloody shame because until recently YT has built into a remarkable resource, but they will destroy it if this pattern continues.

          • Bill 7.1.1.1.1

            And Malone gone from Twitter.

            Rogan gone from youtube.

            Journalist after commentator "frozen out" from legacy outlets (Matt Taibbi, Aaron Mate, Greenwald…etc, etc, etc following on from Ventura, Hedges….)

            Left wing channel after left wing channel on youtube demonetised and then hit with relegatory algorithms since 2016.

            Seems Rumble, Rokfin, Substack and Gettr are where the ostracized go. No doubt, as happened with Parler, after attempts to delegitimise and depopulate them fail, the server hosting will be pulled.

  8. pat 8

    The difference between 'trust' and 'blind trust'…..question.

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  • Budget highlights underlying strength of economy in face of global headwinds
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  • Health Minister to attend World Health Assembly in Geneva
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  • New efforts to counter illegal timber trade
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