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Omicron is coming

Written By: - Date published: 10:54 am, January 21st, 2022 - 113 comments
Categories: australian politics, Christopher Luxon, covid-19, health, jacinda ardern, labour, national, same old national - Tags:

So far the country has fought back and eliminated the original Covid infection, won a couple of skirmishes and then and fought and quelled the Delta incursion.

With daily infection numbers declining, current Covid cases in hospital a quarter of the peak that occurred in early December and with vaccination numbers that are world beating I think it is safe to say that the Delta incursion is under control.

But Omicron is beating at our defences.  The numbers in MIQ are skyrocketing.  I initially thought that it was because of faulty testing at the border or the quickness of the infection appearing but given the numbers I suspect that the virus is spreading in MIQ.  And given the recent infections of staff this seems to be a distinct possibility.

So it is time to get ready.  From Katie Scotcher at Radio New Zealand:

New Zealanders are being urged to prepare for potentially thousands of daily Covid-19 infections once the Omicron variant starts spreading in the community.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has set out the way ahead at Labour’s annual caucus retreat in New Plymouth.

But Opposition parties are accusing the government of making up the plan as it goes along.

Omicron is knocking on the door and loudly with dozens of cases picked up in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) every day.

The variant is already slowly seeping through the border and it’s only a matter of time before it starts to spread in the community.

“We know that we will experience in New Zealand cases at a level we haven’t seen before,” Ardern said.

The modelling varies, but Ardern said once Omicron made its way into the community there could be between 1000 and 10,000 new infections every day.

“We won’t stop Omicron but we can try and slow it down. So that rather than dealing with a tidal wave of cases, we work hard to keep cases as low as possible.”

This is rational.  You only have to look at the United States, Europe and Australia to see the ease that Omicron has avoided and evaded protective measures.

Omicron clearly spreads much easier than other variants.  Its effects appear generally to be much milder, but it can still kill.  And vaccinations still lessen the effects if not the spread-ability.

Australia offers us a glimpse into what can happen if the pandemic is not handled properly.  In New South Wales there is cautious optimism that the hospitalisation numbers have peaked at 2,863.  Yesterday there were 22 Covid patients in New Zealand’s hospitals.  But in Victoria the number is 1,206 and climbing.  And yesterday 25 people died in New South Wales and 15 in Victoria from Covid.

It is not only the health system that is struggling.  Mass sicknesses have shot Australia’s distribution system to bits and supply chain problems are widespread.

So what does Scotty from Marketing do?  He proposes that teenagers be allowed to drive forklifts.  He has since backed down from the idea which is just as well,  The idea is bonkers.

Back in Aotearoa the opposition are trying their well tested lines that the Government’s measures are failing.  It is hard to understand how they can say this with a straight face given the relative calm right now in the country compared to the carnage that is happening over the ditch.

Chris Luxon was interviewed this morning and managed to combine all of National’s attack lines into one 7 minute interview.

He claimed that the Government had been missing for a month and should have a much more comprehensive plan to deal with Omicron.  There is clearly a plan which involves putting the traffic light system on steroids and continue the impressive roll out of vaccinations and booster shots.

He said that the Government has failed because it does not have enough rapid antigen testing.  The Government has 4.6 million tests available with millions more on order and Ardern was very clear in that the tests will be offered for free, unlike what happened in Australia.  Given the absolute clamour for testing kits overseas I thought she had done remarkably well.  And RAT tests are inferior to current testing and much less reliable.  I don’t know how many times it has to be said the ideal system is to have centrally controlled data and tests administered by health professionals.

Luxon criticised the Government for not having more ICU beds available.  This takes some nerve.  The party responsible for the run down of the Health System over the last decade and for shit running down the wall of one of our major hospitals is criticising the current Government because it has not fixed their calamitous shredding of Health budgets.

He complained that the Government should release its infection modelling, just over an hour before Counties Manukau DHB did precisely that.  Talk about plucking opinions out of your arse.

He tripped up by saying that RATs should be available in supermarkets.  Shades of Scomo’s we have to let retailers make a profit on selling RATs line that went down terribly in Australia.

He also claimed to not understand what happens if and when we go to Red.  Has he been hiding away for the past couple of months?  I would think the logic was quite clear.  Have a look at Australia and how quickly Omicron took hold for a reason why things need to be tightened up if it starts to spread here.

He wants the country to build up a “risk management system”.  Three letter business acronyms will be the death of us all, or at least a few of us.

He was asked about saying in December that Auckland was ready for Green and that in relation to the country we have to open up, albeit with good precautions.  He said in response:

Just for the record I always said that Auckland should move from red to orange sooner than what it did.  That is what I was talking about, not to Green …”

Which is rather confusing because this Herald article clearly suggests that Luxon said Auckland should be in a green setting.

And at the time he did say this:

“Why is Auckland in red light? That is designed for when the country has an overwhelmed healthcare system and the Prime Minister says it is fine. And we have some of the highest vaccination rates of any city on planet Earth.”

Luxon said the sector was “ready for Auckland to go straight to green”.

Saying that the hospitality sector was ready for Auckland to go straight to green and omitting to say that he thinks it should stay in orange is pretty duplicitous.

He thought the Government had handled the pandemic well in 2020 but it was a shambles last year.  Again he should look over the ditch.

You never know, through inspired leadership and the continued efforts of the team of five million Aotearoa may again avoid what has happened overseas.  But if only there was a mature political debate about what to do and not the current “utter shambles” line that National is stuck in.

113 comments on “Omicron is coming ”

  1. Ad 1

    Of all the global models, yesterday Ardern singled out South Australia.

    What are the key parts of their clearly successful management framework for Omicron?

    • Poission 1.1

      None 57000 cases 6-19 january.

    • Koff 1.2

      Think "successful management framework for Omicron" is a bit of an oxymoron anywhere in the world. NZ is taking more of a WA approach, but Omicron might just beat both places to it before either would want it. Think politicians in many countries have been floundering and are just hoping that Omicron will be mild enough not to be catastrophic while staggering through the wave. There also seems more than ever to be division amongst 'experts' about the approach to tackling Covid right now while families of those who die, those who develop long Covid and small businesses which don't survive will be the losers.

  2. arkie 2

    This is rational. You only have to look at the United States, Europe and Australia to see the ease that Omicron has avoided and evaded protective measures.

    Or we could look to the successes of other countries that have maintained a zero COVID policy. The denuding of our own policy, like a lot that Labour has been doing in this regard, will consign us to the same fate as US, EU and Oz etc. 'Preparing' for omicron is seemingly accepting mass infection.

    China’s COVID-zero policy has also had its advantages for manufacturing. It’s meant that China avoided COVID surges last year that forced factories to close across southeast Asia. And if China eased its COVID-zero policy, China might struggle to staff its factories with healthy workers.

    https://fortune.com/2022/01/13/china-omicron-covid-zero-port-shutdown-lockdown-supply-chain/

  3. weka 3

    I'm still reasonably trusting of Labour's pandemic response on the health side. But not the social side. Mallard tweeted this yesterday. I think this is the worst communication I've seen from the government in the past two years.

    • weka 3.1

      He also said this, which is somewhat less frightening, but pretty damn obscure.

    • alwyn 3.2

      I would say that Trevor is probably the only MP from his party who is willing to tell people what is really going to happen.

      Most unusual of him but he certainly seems to be on the right side of the fence on this one. We aren't prepared and we aren't willing to crush the country down to make up for the failure. With the latter option I agree with them but why are our preparations, as usual, so lacking in urgency?

      The Government seems to want to enjoy a summer holiday rather than do their job.

      • weka 3.2.1

        you obviously can't read. Read his second tweet.

        • alwyn 3.2.1.1

          I looked at the second tweet, but I think the first one reflected Mallards views.

          When I look at the timing I think that between the two tweets Trevor got a blast from the PMs Office telling him to shape up or ship out. His job is to keep the image of infallibility around the Government.

          I don't know who Ardern has in the ramrod job in her office but there will be someone who keeps the troops in line and will have given Trevor a spray.

          I very much doubt that Trevor came out with that comment on his own. He was told to do it I would think.

      • Anne 3.2.2

        "The Government seems to want to enjoy a summer holiday rather than do their job."

        Come on alwyn. All MPs – regardless of political persuasion – have been under a lot of pressure for nearly 2 yrs now. Government ministers even more so. I'm glad for the sake of their health and wellbeing that most have had a well earned summer break.

        Even so, preparations for Omicron have been ongoing behind the scene regardless of what Luxon and Co. are saying. We are not privy to everything yet which is logical. No point in rabbiting on about potential problems until there are signs they will occur. We will know soon enough to be able to make our individual preparations.

    • McFlock 3.3

      Panic-buying and hoarding (sorry, "stocking up") get out of control and quickly become self-fulfilling prophecies. I'm sure some folks are still working through the bogroll they bought 2 years ago, lol.

      Mallard should know that a calm sigh from an MP becomes a scream down the rumourmill chain.

      • alwyn 3.3.1

        Can you remember back to Ronald Reagan? While doing a sound check before a broadcast he was joking with the sound engineers and parodying his planned speech he said that ""My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." This joke was not broadcast live, but was recorded and later leaked to the public.

        Now that is the way to cause a stir on the rumour mill.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_begin_bombing_in_five_minutes

      • weka 3.3.2

        I took it as he does know that, and he said it anyway because he knows we're better off stocking up now while the supermarkets are in relatively good shape to be restocking if shortages hit this week. As opposed to in a few weeks or a month or whenever workers start having to stay home.

        It was an incredibly casual tweet though. Maybe I'm wrong and he wasn't thinking. Or maybe he's droping some hefty hints in a number of fronts: stock up, look after your neighbours, things are about to get rough. Also, while everyone else was on holiday, we've been working hard preparing.

        • McFlock 3.3.2.1

          I suspect he was thinking more "how's that old earthquake kit going" sort of stocking up, but sure as eggs is eggs some eggs will read it as "fark! more bogroll, now!"

          • weka 3.3.2.1.1

            interesting arguments here that it's a useful thing, even if there's a bit of overbuying.

            • McFlock 3.3.2.1.1.1

              It's a big assumption that the people overbuying now will not be hoarding even more if things get particularly bad.

              • weka

                seems like an ideal opportunity for a government department to talk to the public about the difference, and what we might expect over coming months.

                • McFlock

                  Is there a difference?

                  The official advice doesn't recommend stockpiling flour.

                  • weka

                    stocking up a bit =/= stockpile.

                  • weka

                    I live on my own. Who do you think will feed me if I'm too unwell to feed myself? Last time I had a bad flu it was two weeks in bed. I got some stuff dropped off. Imagine how that doesn't when you can't actually buy what you need and have to improvise but you're too sick to manage that.

                    • weka

                      worth pointing out that the supply line issues, assuming we have them, are going to be different from the lock down ones.

                    • McFlock

                      I'm in a similar boat.

                      Thing is, so are lots of people. But shortages will be more extreme if the stocks being restricted are the ones we had to order now because the haves "stocked up, and will still want to maintain that stock level.

                    • weka

                      not getting that. If people buy some extras over the next few weeks, why would they keep buying indefinitely. Most people have a limited amount of space in their house for storing food.

                    • weka

                      last time I had this conversation was with a friend, working class small business owners trying to get ahead, live out of town, and they said they quite often do a bigger shop, several time a month. Partly prep for emergencies (this predates covid), and partly it's just how they manage their household.

                      Imo, Mallard is pointing to the urban dwellers who are used to going to the supermarket a few times a week, and popping in if they run out of something. They don't tend to have much or any leeway.

                    • McFlock

                      If people buy some extras over the next few weeks, why would they keep buying indefinitely. Most people have a limited amount of space in their house for storing food.

                      They won't increase the volume of their stockpile indefinitely, but they'll maintain it as long as they think something might go wrong – so their regular consumption won't decrease.

                      And that includes when there are slight shortages. They'll still be taking the last loaf of bread that day.

                      It might be the last one because the shelf stockers only come in at night and in full ppe, or it might be the last one because the ships are delayed for weeks. But they'll still take it, even if their chest freezer is half full of bread.

                    • weka

                      yeah, but the people that do that will do that anyway.

        • Christopher Randal 3.3.2.2

          Here in Matamata both supermarkets have lots of empty shelves with apology notices on them instead of product.

          Please do not assume that the supply problem has gone away and that supermarkets outside Auckland can cope with panic buying

          • weka 3.3.2.2.1

            what sort of things?

            • Christopher Randal 3.3.2.2.1.1

              Whole range of things – but, strangely, not flour or bog paper, although there are limits of 1 flour and 2 packets T paper. Also limits on pet food

              Biscuits, some frozen food, own brand varied product, meat and fish on Mondays, cooking oils

  4. I think moving to red is going to have very little impact on the spread of omicron in of itself. Simply restricting meeting sizes and the other tinkering that goes with the red traffic light system seems fairly tokenistic to me.

    RAT tests should be available and ready to go right now. Given the speed of Omicron, waiting until we have it might be too late. The small number of tests available in the country now will get used up very quickly I expect. Those that are on order are going to dribble in over a number of months.

    While RAT tests are less accurate than PCR tests, I would argue they are more effective in the context of an endemic and highly infectious disease.

    The problem with PCR tests are that they are quite inconvenient to access and take a long time to get results back. So, people who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms may not bother to access those tests. And those that are positive are likely to be contagious for a few days before they get their results back.

    While not as accurate, the RAT tests do return a very fast result and are very easy and convenient to use. Hence, anyone, with symptoms or not, can readily assess their Covid status and isolate immediately if necessary.

    Of course there will be more false negatives. But the goal is no longer elimination, but rather, slowing down the spread.

    So I think that effectiveness will trump accuracy in terms of testing going forward.

  5. BevanJS 5

    "I don’t know how many times it has to be said the ideal system is to have centrally controlled data and tests administered by health professionals."

    This sounds close to the opposite of ideal in a pandemic, particularly with the highly transmissible omicron. Let's not have people coming together so much if they can test while isolating at home.

    • arkie 5.1

      Breaking the chain of infection is the most effective way of dealing with any virus, as they need hosts to survive. Hence the effectiveness of lockdowns at doing just that.

      • BevanJS 5.1.1

        So having tests already distributed to swathes of the populous ahead of the coming massive spike in cases would help flatten the curve, reducing the numbers rushing to medical centres to share the virus.

        • arkie 5.1.1.1

          Paying everyone not designated as essential workers to stay home while procuring and providing self-tests for essential workers is undoubtedly a sensible approach.

  6. Ross 6

    The party responsible for the run down of the Health System over the last decade and for shit running down the wall of one of our major hospitals is criticising the current Government because it has not fixed their calamitous shredding of Health budgets.

    You can flog that horse for only so long. Shit is still running down the wall of at least one of our hospitals. Clearly, fixing that isn’t a high priority for the Government. But I understand the PM is very upset about the situation, which will be comforting to all those at the hospital.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/sewage-leaking-into-whangarei-hospital-medical-wings-walls/NQQLYOTQ7ESDYVBY4JA4VYQJFU/

    • tc 6.1

      It's a horse not shown in context Ross with the goldfish memory being relied on.

      We had a good system until the crippling handed out by bill English under the second last national government. This was patched up by Clark/Cullen but still not recovered.

      We then smiled and waved more away via Ryall n Coleman whilst increasing population about 12-14% in their time at the treasury benches.

      Here we are 1.5 electoral cycles later in a pandemic, a good opportunity for reflection as to how and why our health system needs lots of reinvestment.

      • georgecom 6.1.1

        yes 9 years of smile and wave underfunding health

        thus far 4 years of putting things back together

        so another 5 years until critics can genuinely say it's labours fault

    • Tricledrown 6.2

      Don't forget the leaky hospitals built under National after they cut all the building legislations protections in 1991 all hospital builds up till 1999.

      Not many under National need rebuilding .Labour put up $2 billion towards fixing leaky hospitals.

  7. To understand how pathetic is the quantities of RAT tests in NZ and those to arrive, then see what is available in the UK:

    https://theppeonlineshop.co.uk/Employee-Welfare/COVID-19-Tests/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAraSPBhDuARIsAM3Js4pVTx-hkK7k8ccp0zvmkEUzhNcega10qggwqLBjhM8EHlUYAVzzzZcaAqfYEALw_wcB

    RAT tests can be purchased in volume for next to nix.

    Imagine how many RAT tests will be required when people start wanting to self-test themselves every day, when companies mandate a negative RAT test every day before people are allowed at work, and when companies require contractors to pass an RAT before they can come on site.

    For instance, if there is 1 million orders of RAT's in quantities of 7 (to allow testing every day), that would equate to 350 million tests per year. No way we have enough for that in the country or on order.

  8. Treetop 8

    The time it takes to show being positive with Covid does this vary between being vaccinated or being unvaccinated?

    Palmy is now having its turn as a confirmed case of Omicron, (source NZ Herald). It will go through the city quickly due to the size of the main shopping centre and the number of locations of interest.

  9. Adrian 9

    Tsmithfield, I think the RAT tests you refer too are the ones that don’t work at all, that the Pommy Tory MPs used their leverage to import from Couldntgiveafuckistan and made a killing off…literally.

    • Koff 9.1

      The point that ts is making is that when Omicron is raging, people with symptoms or close contacts of people who have been tested as positive will be so many that the normal PCR process will be overwhelmed. RAT tests are not as effective as PCR tests but at least (if available) can help alleviate the lines of people waiting for a PCR test (kilometres long at times in Australia – a good way to catch the virus). Testing twice or three times by yourself is probably as good as a PCR test. Not perfect, but better than people not being tested at all. Needs ready availability of RAT tests, which isn't easy because every other country is trying to get hold of them, but NZ has time (maybe) to get itself ready.

    • alwyn 9.2

      And what is the source of this revelation? Presumably you have something to back up this rant? Or not, probably.

      • tsmithfield 9.2.1

        Quite simply, if we want an effective program, there is going to be an urgent need for multiple testing that will quickly overwhelm supply.

        For instance, as a private person someone may purchase their own tests for their family. But then that same person may have to pass a test before going into their work place etc every day.

        Children might have to do a test prior to going onto school grounds every day.

        By testing in such a way the amount of virus circulating in the community will be limited and we will actually flatten the curve. But this is going to take many millions of tests, and I think much more than what we are going to have available this year.

        • alwyn 9.2.1.1

          The bit of the comment I was looking for some evidence of was the claim that "that the Pommy Tory MPs used their leverage to import from Couldntgiveafuckistan".

          Did Conservative MPs really do that and if they did what has happened to them?

          It wasn't the question of the number of tests that might be needed, although you certainly explain most clearly why that is a problem.

          • tsmithfield 9.2.1.1.1

            Here is an interesting article on RATs:

            https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/covid/rise-of-rapid-antigen-testing/

            The quote from the article emphasises the need for regular testing, and that accuracy of the tests rises to approx 98% for three sequential tests.

            The word "regular"is a little hard to define. But, the degree of "regularity" we want is going to determine the number of tests required. Even for a population of 5 million this is going to be a lot of tests.

            Here is an example of what “regular” might look like where Harvey Norman Australia plan to require daily RAT tests for staff:

            https://thewest.com.au/business/retail/harvey-norman-plans-to-introduce-daily-rat-testing-at-wa-stores-c-5355141

            "'Easy and equitable access will be vital. Given the narrow window of optimal testing time while viral load is high, RATs will only fulfill their potential if they can be used for regular surveillance testing by all sectors of the population.

            “Their accuracy is much improved when they are used serially, that is when tests are repeated over multiple days,” says Vally.

            In a recent study from the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that rapid antigen tests had a sensitivity (>98%) comparable to PCR for identifying infected individuals if used at least every three days.''

        • Drowsy M. Kram 9.2.1.2

          Is there an appraisal of how successful rapid antigen testing has been at slowing the spread of Omicron in Australia or elsewhere? If you have flu/cold symptoms at this time of year, wouldn't it make sense to assume Omicron and act accordingly?

          Takes me back to the advice given when COVID first touched down in NZ:

          PM Jacinda Ardern’s full lockdown speech [23 March 2020]
          We are fortunate to still be some way behind the majority of overseas countries in terms of cases, but the trajectory is clear. Act now, or risk the virus taking hold as it has elsewhere.

          I have one final message. Be kind. I know people will want to act as enforcers. And I understand that, people are afraid and anxious. We will play that role for you. What we need from you, is support one another. Go home tonight and check in on your neighbours. Start a phone tree with your street. Plan how you’ll keep in touch with one another. We will get through this together, but only if we stick together. Be strong and be kind.

          During NZ's Omicron wave, imho this advice from August 2020 will also apply:

          "Act as if you have COVID and the people around you have COVID," Ardern said.

          What the COVID-19 symptoms are, including Long COVID, how fast they appear, and what to do if you have any symptoms.

  10. tsmithfield 10

    From my perspective with my business I see the greatest risk as disruption if everyone is sick at the same time. So we will probably keep a skeleton staff on at work and have as many working from home as possible.

    • Foreign waka 10.1

      ROFL ….yeah right working from home, productivity zero, this is just BS. I have seen it first hand that working from home is just a big holiday for some and the "chosen" ones are those fleeced twice over. I have worked 2 years through and I certainly will not in another round. My goodwill is done, to the max. I rather walk, same thing no stress.

  11. mac1 11

    Thanks for your post, mickysavage. Clear, thoughtful, needed. Appreciated.

  12. DS 12

    Omicron is not spreading in MIQ. These are cases that were in their incubation period when tested pre-flight, or alternatively caught after their pre-flight test.

    Meanwhile, lockdowns work, and Ardern's determination to be browbeaten by the media into ruling it out is insane. A fair number of people will actually be practising personal lockdowns if it gets in… which will hurt businesses far more than conventional lockdowns due to no government subsidies.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 12.1

      A fair number of people will actually be practising personal lockdowns if it gets in…

      Me for one, when Omicron gets out of MIQ (keep up the good work), although my personal choices will be but a scratch to businesses.

      • McFlock 12.1.1

        death by a million such scratches.

        Although this time my employer is looking for people willing to temporarily transfer to essential duties if there's a bunch of sick leave, so I might end up shaking hands with doorknobs again after many years, lol

      • Bearded Git 12.1.2

        I was just at the pub with a friend who has just come back from a month in the UK. She said they were scared to go out anywhere.

    • joe90 12.2

      due to no government subsidies

      I recall hearing commentators saying the UK government's decision to end official lockdowns was a move to end the furlough scheme.

      • Tricledrown 12.2.1

        Given the state of the UK economy and still facing longterm economic fallout from Brexit.

        The UK conservatives are trying in vain to keep business afloat at all costs.

        Let the bodies pile up ,party at no 10 with Boris.

        Looks like Boris is finished.

        Local body elections will give Labour a big platform to beat the conservatives.

        The UK is on a continual disaster track.

        ACT covid policy would have us in the same boat.

  13. Drowsy M. Kram 13

    Great post:

    Australia offers us a glimpse into what can happen if the pandemic is not handled properly.

    An Omicron tragedy is unfolding in parts of Australia. The daily tolls of lives lost will top 100 as this wave peaks, and propel Australia's COVID deaths per million past 150 by the time the wave has receded – still a relatively low number internationally.

    A benefit of the Omicron wave is that COVID-19 infections will confer some resistance on many that chose not to be, or could not be, vaccinated. This resistance (like the resistance conferred by vaccination) will wane, but it's certainly better than nothing.

    Please, if you're eligible for a booster vaccine dose against COVID, get in quick!

    Be prepared and get your booster
    Omicron spreads more easily than previous variants of COVID-19. Get your booster for the greatest protection, and make a plan for your household.

    To conclude, the results from our cohort of healthy, working-age adults support a three-dose vaccination strategy against COVID-19 for the general population, and the broad neutralising response observed suggests urgent global action to deliver three-dose vaccination might increase population immunity against current VOCs (including Omicron) and help prevent the emergence of new variants. – 19 January 2022
    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(22)00092-7/fulltext

    Why some vaccinated people resist Omicron and others don’t
    [20 Jan 2022]
    That doesn’t mean the vaccines are pointless against Omicron, as some vaccine-skeptics have been arguing. It’s still a good idea to get vaccinated, because 80% of us will get good protection. Boosters are also important — in the study, they improved everyone’s ability to respond to the virus. But they didn’t help everyone equally.

    Research like Gaiha’s could inform the design of next generation of Covid-19 vaccines. Right now, it’s not clear whether drug companies should try to create new boosters specific to Omicron, or go with a broader vaccine booster that would target different parts of the virus, including those that haven’t changed from one variant to the next. That’s what Gaiha’s lab is working on — trying to get a universal vaccine. If they succeed, it’s even more reason to hope we won’t all get Covid after all.

    • RedLogix 13.1

      The good news is that in both NSW and VIC case numbers and hospitalisations have both peaked in the past few days and will almost certainly decline from here on in. SA will probably follow inside a week or so.

      This leaves WA and NZ with a political decision to make. (And as a small matter of personal irony, I am now effectively stuck in Brisbane not able to travel to either my new place of work in WA, nor return to our permanent home in NZ. I suspect it is going to be a few more months before this expensive problem resolves itself.)

  14. Adrian Thornton 14

    Mickeysavage…"And yesterday 25 people died in New South Wales and 15 in Victoria from Covid."… can you tell us what percentage of those deaths died with Covid and what percentage because of Covid with no other underlying causes?, thanks, always good to have all the facts.

    • Koff 14.1

      Surprsingly poor analysis of all the possible causes, it seems, and also which variant (Delta or Omicron) is involved. This article explores just how poor the underlying causes are known about.

      This article provides statistics and graphs of what has been discovered about Covid ICU and death figures in NSW. One obvious conclusion is that being old and unvaccinated dramatically increases your chances of winding up in ICU or dying.

    • RedLogix 14.2

      and what percentage because of Covid with no other underlying causes?

      The nearest attempt at answering this question that I have seen popped up in a Campbell clip two days ago.

      Essentially the number of people who have died in the UK with only COVID listed on the death certificate, and no other underlying causes, seems to be a great deal lower than the most people are imagining. Roughly 17k vs 140k.

      Data sourced from official UK FOIA release. All links to official sites in description as usual.

      • mpledger 14.2.1

        A lot of people have underlying conditions – 11% of adults take asthma medication, 4.3% have heart disease, 5.8% have diabetes. To have no underlying conditions probably just means that you're young. They list underlying conditions even if they have no/little connection to death.

        What's of real interest is whether covid-19 is listed as the primary cause or not. From what I have read (a week ago so I can't remember the source) about 80% of hospitalisations with covid-19 have covid-19 as the primary cause (in the USA).

        • Koff 14.2.1.1

          Agreed. As University of South Australia professor of biostatistics and epidemiology, Adrian Esterman, was quoted as saying in the Guardian article (linked to in reply to Adrian Thornton's comment above):

          "It is well known that many conditions can increase the risk of being hospitalised or dying. Not being vaccinated creates the greatest risk.

          A person’s age, whether they smoke, if they suffer from cancer, immunodeficiency, diabetes, severe obesity, heart or liver disease, if they are male, or if they are pregnant all add to risk.

          People undergoing treatments including many cancer therapies such as chemotherapy or therapies that suppress the immune system also have a greater risk of dying.

          Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at greater risk, as are people with disabilities.

          Prof Brendan Crabb says the use of the phrase ‘with underlying conditions’ in press conferences is ‘unwise’.

          Crabb says the use of the phrase “with underlying conditions” in press conferences is “unwise”. He says it may be that health authorities don’t want people to panic about the deaths but that “we have to be very careful about not saying there are two classes of Australians – the ones we care about and the ones we don’t”.

          “It’s jaw-dropping … I would rather the people who died are recognised and celebrated in the same way other people are when they die in tragedies. It’s disturbing,” he says.

          “A very large proportion of us do have an underlying condition – heart conditions, diabetes … even if that wasn’t the case, does it matter?

          “Just because they had diabetes doesn’t make them any less special, and their death any less tragic.”

          • arkie 14.2.1.1.1

            Crabb says the use of the phrase “with underlying conditions” in press conferences is “unwise”.

            “we have to be very careful about not saying there are two classes of Australians [people] – the ones we care about and the ones we don’t”.

            Tautoko!

  15. Prof Brendan Crabb says the use of the phrase ‘with underlying conditions’ in press conferences is ‘unwise’.

    Crabb says the use of the phrase “with underlying conditions” in press conferences is “unwise”. He says it may be that health authorities don’t want people to panic about the deaths but that “we have to be very careful about not saying there are two classes of Australians – the ones we care about and the ones we don’t”.

    “It’s jaw-dropping … I would rather the people who died are recognised and celebrated in the same way other people are when they die in tragedies. It’s disturbing,” he says.

    “A very large proportion of us do have an underlying condition – heart conditions, diabetes … even if that wasn’t the case, does it matter?

    “Just because they had diabetes doesn’t make them any less special, and their death any less tragic.”

    This argument to count only the people who really died from Covid falls into the camp of those who want to minmise the effects of Covid. If they can do this we can then be persuaded that Covid does not exist. Some people actually believe this …still we hear 'it is just a cold' etc. If you are fixated on deaths and able to disregard large swathes of them then by the same token you can dismiss those who had this 'cold' and now have 'long cold'.

    It is very convenient that some of those with co-morbidities are older. We can therefore dismiss their deaths, as they are older so goes the circular & ageist argument.

    Then the younger people who have co-morbidities who may have been living the best lives they can despite the limitations, what is the argument here if we only care about subdividing deaths to make a point about worth. Their deaths also don't count because of their comorbidities, so the argument follows but those who are making these heartless claims are only looking at the 'old and past it years'.

    My view is that there is one 'comorbidity' only and that is if one is vaccinated/boostered or not. I don't really think it should be counted as a co morbidity but the deaths could be cut into those who are vaccinated and those who are not, same with all the stats that are reported. This is not to demonise but to reflect that consequences may come from actions or non actions.

    All deaths or hospitalisations are of people who who are loved and cherished and who form part of our society

  16. Patricia Bremner 16

    When the advice is to stock up a wellness kit, that is .. panadol ibuprophen cough mix nasal spray lozenges and real lemons if you can get them for drinks. Green tea would be good, lemon and ginger for instance. Make a pack containing a list of current meds (Chemist will print this, or your GP will email on request plus vaccine record.) Do an isolation plan and do signs to use for back and front doors.. Make your plan for dealing with laundry and cleaning surfaces. All this may be done before anyone is sick. A simple box with gloves masks and paper towels rubbish bags and disinfectant/bleach/spray. Just be ready with what you need beforehand. Good luck everyone. Do what you can to prepare, but don't stress too much. Live each day doing a call to someone and keep up the good habits. Get boosted ASP. Keep well all, especially those still having to venture out.

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