Reading the Covid Tea-Leaves: 18th September

This past month’s blogging has really turned into an extended rant on the subject of the Coronavirus (primarily because I still haven’t got my hands on The Nature of Middle-earth, and there’s little update on the Amazon series). Auckland is still on Level 4, of course, and the rest of us are on Level 2, as the interminable dregs of the Auckland outbreak are dealt with – there was a blip upwards today (20 cases, 11 yesterday), but the health authorities don’t mind, since they’ve linked them back to existing cases, and are slowly strangling the spread. A single Covid-positive truck driver doesn’t seem to have screwed us all.

Of more interest today is this article:

From which one can ascertain:

  • Individual idiots are a thing, but the New Zealand public – community-minded conformists at heart – are still willing to engage in a delightful bit of Anonymous Denunciation. Aforementioned idiots are certainly not celebrated, thank goodness.
  • Health Minister Andrew Little’s stated fondness for Australian-style “hospital in the home,” is seriously disturbing, since it has literally led to Sydney people being found dead in their homes. Seriously. Nothing about New South Wales right now should be taken as a worthwhile model by anyone, much less our bloody Health Minister. One can only hope that this is Little’s lack of a medical background coming into play, and that the experts advising the Government (Michael Baker, David Skegg, et al) are less keen.
  • This will probably be the last Level 4, though I’d be willing to suggest that Level 3 lockdowns, combined with closed borders, will continue to be employed. Vaccines are good (I had my first dose on 4th September, and will be getting my next one on 20th October), but they don’t stop Covid outbreaks, as Israel’s experience can attest. Proper lockdowns and public compliance do.
  • Little’s reference to managing the borders “week by week, month by month,” shows that the Government doesn’t actually have any idea about the future. Which is only fair – until we’ve seen the upcoming Northern Hemisphere winter, none of us can have any idea on the death toll of endemic Covid. I would be willing to bet (along with Bernard Hickey) that the death toll will prove well in excess of anything New Zealand would find politically tolerable… which means de facto indefinite border closure.
  • Those journalists asking Little about “an acceptable death toll” shows even the New Zealand media can ask intelligent questions when they want. Little can’t answer that one, of course, but the death toll is the Question at the heart of any “opening up” plan.
  • No-one bothers to discuss how New Zealand’s response might affect its smaller, disease-free Pacific neighbours.
  • Discrepancies in vaccination rates among various New Zealand ethnicities is becoming a sticking point.

On the latter point, here are some comparisons between Pakeha/Asian vaccination rates, Maori rates, and Pacific Islander rates:

Those insane Pacific Island numbers in Nelson-Marlborough are just an error in estimating the relevant population. But anyway, it’s quite clear where the problem is. Older Maori are fine, Southern and Wellington Maori are fine, Pasifika are fine, but there are real problems with reaching younger North Island Maori, especially in Northland and the Bay of Plenty.

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