Covid death rates have reached pandemic highs in New Zealand as the country battles another Omicron wave.
News.com.au July 23 2022
New Zealanders are dying from Covid-19 at record rates as the country battles a new wave of the Omicron strain and clocks a seven-day rolling average of nearly 10,000 cases a day.
Deaths from the virus reached 151 in the seven days to July 16, compared with 115 in the worst week of the previous wave, in March, according to Health Ministry data.
In the latest 24 hours, 26 people died from Covid, all aged over 60, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The Omicron BA. 5 sub-variant is driving the current wave in New Zealand, which has 5.1 million people, Reuters reports. There have been 64,780 active cases in the past seven days, although authorities say many infections are unreported.
Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago and expert epidemiologist Michael Baker told the ABC that New Zealand’s daily death rate was now “very concerning”.
“I think one of the things that’s alarming … is the high mortality,” said Professor Michael Baker.
“It’s now peaking at the highest level we’ve ever seen, [with] a moving average of about 22 deaths a day. That’s in a population of 5.1 million. So that’s quite concerning.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently visited Sydney as part of her international trade mission aimed at reconnecting New Zealand with the world following the closure of the country’s borders due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: James Gourley/Getty Images.
On the World Health Organisation’s ranking of daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people, New Zealand has been among the worst-performing nations this week.
New Zealand has announced a change in how it will report its COVID-19-related deaths, moving to a model where cases are only counted in mortality figures when the disease has been the direct reason for the loss of life.
Comment: That’s because the high numbers are an embarrassment to the government. Previously the high numbers were used to bring panic, and to get the population vaccinated.
Until last year, New Zealand had been following a zero-Covid policy — with the population largely remaining virus free due to harsh lockdown measures, aggressive contact tracing and border controls that trapped some of its own citizens outside of the country.
Comment: A Zero policy against a virus? New Zealand was one step away from looking like China!
Despite fierce criticism from some in the country over the restrictions, Jacinda Ardern, the nation’s prime minister, has repeatedly defended the rules, saying they saved lives.
But the government finally acknowledged last October that it could no longer remain Covid-free.
At the time, the country of 5 million had logged fewer than 30 deaths.
On Thursday, New Zealand reported 32 COVID-19-related deaths.
This image shows a transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient, captured and colour-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Picture: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / AFP.
Experts believe previously low levels of infection in New Zealand due to strict Covid curbs is behind the high fatality rate now because the economically-crippling measures only delayed “inevitable” infections that could have built-up immunity, the MailOnline reports.
Comment: That’s right…the community had no immunity.
Professor Robert Dingwall, a sociologist at Nottingham Trent University and former Government adviser, told the outlet that experts have long said that it would be fairer to judge countries’ responses two years on from the original outbreak.
“New Zealand was able to prevent early waves of infection by rigid border controls while other countries developed and tested vaccines,” he said.
“However, in the end, the country has been unable to escape the fundamentals of Covid — that the risk of death is strongly related to age, that vaccination mitigates but does not prevent infection, and that the way out of the pandemic lies through population immunity acquired by both vaccination and infection.
Correction: The effectiveness of the vaccines are so low, that Joe Biden with 2 vax shots and 2 boosters still gets covid? In fact the vaccines are creating the variants.
“New Zealand’s policies may have displaced some deaths into other countries that developed vaccines but were really only delaying the inevitable deaths among their own population at a considerable cost to the economy.”
Several vaccines have been created to combat Covid. Picture: Karen Ducey/Getty Images/AFP.
But Dr Simon Clarke, an infectious disease expert based at the University of Reading, told the publication that New Zealand has high levels of protection against Covid. Some 80 per cent of people are double-jabbed, compared to 75 per cent in the UK and 67 per cent in the US.
”Any population-wide immunity which could have been gained at the start of the pandemic, at the cost of a lot of deaths, would have dwindled away by now. We need a better understanding of the behaviour of the virus before we can reach conclusions.”
Numerous vaccines have helped blunt the worst of the disease for patients since the start of the pandemic, but their effectiveness has been weakened as the virus mutates.
Comment: The virus in some cases has mutated due to the high levels of vaccination.