"It's just a bad Flu, we gotta just live with it." Gaining ground

Take any random group of adults and about 4 in 10 are going to meet the criteria for obesity, which is a primary risk factor for being susceptible to COVID-19. And obesity predominates in states that are also resistant to vaccination and public health mandates such as masking and physical distancing, so it is unsurprising to see clusters of disease outbreaks.

Of course, schools are full of potential carriers, many of which will be asymptomatic, so it is basically the worst case scenario for spreading to adults who work in the school, despite all of the dubious scienticianing that people have done to try to justify a full and unrestricted return to schooling, often without any clear plans or guidance about sample testing and tracing, physical distancing and facility modification, or criteria for when to back off and return to remote schooling. So, on top of treating teachers and school staff as low wage workers of relatively low economic and social importance, we’ve also implicitly labeled them as sacrificial goats.

Stranger

The trouble with the New Zealand approach is that A) it cost them a fortune, and B) The relative lack of consequences from Covid infections has apparently made it harder to get people to vaccinate, or they just aren’t good at doing it:

Australia and New Zealand have fully vaccinated barely 30% pf their populations. Canada is at 68% and the US at 53%. As a result, both countries are now looking at an explosion of infections. Look at Australia:

And New Zealand:

Both are undergoing extremely sharp increses in cases.

This is a real missed opportunity. If they had used their isolation to lock down while they vaccinated everyone, they might have saved a lot of lives. But so long as vaccinations are as low as they are, all they are doing is setting the stage for a massive explosion of cases once the isolation fails, as it inevitably had to.

Here’s another graph for people who think we kmow how to control the pandemic spread:

The vertical axis is the amount of government stringency in terms of masks, lockdowns, etc. The horizontal axis is the growth rate of infections. They look almost completely uncoupled.

Get vaccinated. The unvaxxed are coming under increasing risk - our infections in Alberta are higher than they’ve ever been, but 80-90% of the people in hospital are unvaxxed, despite being only about 30% of the population. If you aren’t vaccinated, your odds of getting seriously sick are higher now than they’ve ever been, by a wide margin. The vaccinated are fine. Lots of vaxxed people are having breakthrough cases, but almost none of them are very serious or even symptomatic.

This is becoming a disease that ravages primarily the unvaccinated. But at the rate they are getting infected, they will soon have natural immunity and the infection rate will drop again. In Florida, the replication rate is now at 0.48, and the daily infection number is rapidly declining.

I think vaccination is all that really matters, all the lockdowns, masking, etc simply seem to change the distribution of infections, but not the absolute number. Instead of getting sharp peaks with sharp falls, locked down places get flatter peaks but less sharp declines. The area under both curves (infections) may not be that different.

The strain on the health care system will be better under lockdowns, though. Flattening the curve is still valuable when hospitals are near capacity, but it’s not going to stop the pandemic from doing what it will do.

…this is all nonsense, Sam. Our vaccination programme is going very well, we have already outpaced several States in the US, and everyone who wants a vaccine will have one by the end of the year.

By “extremely sharp increase in cases” we are talking about 36 cases today. All but one of them close contacts, all in Managed Isolation Facilities. 928 of the cases in the current outbreak have been epidemiologically linked, with 17 under investigation. We do genomic sequencing to link cases. Waste water testing to see if the ring-fence has been broken. Cases and immediate family moved into managed isolation facilities so that they can be looked after and to reduce the chance of infection. Level 4 lockdown means that contact with other people is extremely limited. Everyone has to scan in/register when they shop.

We’ve had 27 covid deaths Sam since the start of the pandemic.

Not 27 deaths in this outbreak. Not 27 deaths this week. Not 27 deaths this year. But since the start of the pandemic. Only 2 deaths this year.1 death in the current outbreak.

More people died today in Canada from Covid than have died in New Zealand from Covid in over a year-and-a-half. And the curve in Canada is starting to trend upwards again, despite the relatively higher rates of vaccination.

I think what we are doing here is working perfectly fine, thanks. We’ve gotten very good at stopping people from dying from Covid. Better than almost everywhere else in the world. It really is nice of you to pop in here and offer some advice. But we are doing just fine.

We have constructed multiple layers of defence, and developed systems that can ring fence and stomp out an outbreak whenever it happens. We’ve done it over and over and over again. We are not complacent. But accepting thousands of deaths is not something any country had to accept. We choose not to accept that here.

You don’t have to worry about us.

I don’t worry about NZ; it’s just increasingly imperative that NZ get vaccinated, even if it’s just one shot. The Kiwis are getting there. I think in another few months, NZ can probably afford to relax a bit and open things up a bit more. No question that until they get more people vaccinated, lockdowns are the right decision. Ardern’s the right leader at the right time

…I don’t know why people think that we don’t already know this. Its a global pandemic and every country has been demanding vaccines. Like many countries we have been constrained by supply. We didn’t start to get big deliveries until last month. And in October the really big deliveries start to arrive.

We set our vaccination forecast in February that included the bumps in delivery in August and October. We have consistently been vaccinating over forecast to the extent that we had to purchase additional vaccine stock from Spain and Denmark this month in order to keep up with demand. 77% of the eligible population are either booked in for a vaccine or have had a first dose. 68% have already had one shot. About 1% of the population are getting vaccinated every day.

It isn’t like vaccination is some sort of afterthought. It’s very much part of the plan.

Here is the outline for our reopening plan.

I agree with this. You can look at almost any site, any country or U.S. state and see this. Mask mandates, lockdowns, closures, and so forth had almost no effect on Covid. I use this site as well:

The link I posted was to NZ that boasts a 27% full vaccination rate. I also agree with your second point. The main and only indicator of success in this fight is vaccination. They seem to be less effective than we had originally thought, but my are they effective.

…correction on this: today’s update is that we are now on 69%. Which has made a lot of New Zealanders happy, as they have been waiting for that number with bated breath :smiley:

…LOL.

You just have to look at the latest outbreak in New Zealand to see that a combination of mask mandates, lockdowns, closures and so forth have ring-fenced an outbreak and are bringing it under control. We can see the measures working in real time. I can walk you through it step-by-step if you like.

To put that in perspective, Miami-Dade county, with half the population of New Zealand, has had more than that many deaths per day for the past few weeks.

Quick off-topic question. Where do you find the deaths in Miami-Dade county. FL no longer posts deaths per county and I’m really curious about Miami-Dade.

I use the CDC’s site:

You have to mess with various drop downs to get exactly what you want, but it’s doable. 207 deaths in Miami-Dade county the week ending 09/12/21.

…actually: let’s do this.

“Case A” in the latest outbreak was a 58 year-old Devonport man who developed symptoms, presented for testing on August 16th and tested positive.

It was thought that the man had been infectious since August 12, and during that time had travelled between Auckland and the Coromandel. Because of the length of time the person had been infectious in the community the decision was made to bring the entire country to Level 4 on the same day the case was identified.

Level 4 is the highest alert level in our system, and had only been used once before, back in April/May 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Level 4 is used when there is suspected wide community spread with no clear epidemiological links. We had a single covid case in the community. But we don’t know how he got it. At Alert Level 4 people are required to “stay in their bubbles.” You can shop for groceries, get medical care, get a Covid test or vaccination, exercise in your local area, or go to work if you are an essential worker. Face coverings were mandated for public transport, inside retail businesses and public venues. People were given 48 hours to return home.

The initial Level 4 lockdown was set for 3 days, to give people a chance to get home, and to be able to get an inital assessment on the extent of the outbreak. On Day Two four new community cases were announced. One was a workmate of Case A, the other three were contacts of the workmate. One of those contacts worked at Auckland Hospital. Another was a teacher at the local college. Over the next few days the cases rise. But because we are at Level 4 the majority of initial cases got Covid before we went into lockdown. Wastewater testing show traces of Covid in Auckland, in Warkworth, and Wellington. On August 20th three cases were identified in Wellington. (Where I live.)

The decision is made to extend Level 4 for at least another two weeks. That decision automatically triggered the Wage Subsidy scheme. I’m a self-employed photographer, and I had all of my work cancel for the next month, so I qualified for the subsidy. I applied for the subsidy at 3PM Friday afternoon (I had to answer 5 questions online and sign a statutory declaration, and one of those questions was “what is your bank account number”) it was approved 3 hours later and deposited into my bank that night.

Genomic Sequencing is a tool we use extensively here to be able to figure out how an outbreak develops and evolves. And through genomic sequencing we were able to find a genomic (but not an epidemiological) link to a person at the border. The returnee from Sydney arrived on August the 7th, returned a positive test on the 9th, was transferred to the Jet Park Hotel (where positive cases are monitored), then got sick and transferred to an Auckland hospital on August 16. Despite a huge amount of effort (including checking CCTV, extensive contact tracing) they haven’t found an epidemiological link between the returnee and Case A. But all subsequent genomic sequencing show that all the cases are related.

Because this is Delta the definition of the types of contacts was changed. We have three types of contacts:

Close Contact: a person at a higher risk of infection, typically household contacts, or a workmate.

Casual Plus Contacts: people that have been at the same Location of Interest at the same time as someone who was infectious.

Casual Contacts: anyone who was in the same place at the same time as someone infectious but not near the infectious person.

Because of the expanded definitions the number of people that had to be contact traced was significantly higher this time around. And what the data has since shown is that those getting infected are almost exclusively close contacts. Delta is ripping through families. A lot of young people, even toddlers, got Covid during this outbreak. But Casual Plus and Casual contacts were significantly less likely to get Covid.

People who get Covid are moved into Managed Isolation Facilities (MIQ), along with their close contacts, because we know that the close contacts are likely to be infectious. This allows the people to be closely monitored in case they get sick, it means that they don’t have to worry about going shopping or cooking food, it removes the infectious people from the community and provides less exposure events. We even have specialist teams that go out into the community to safely transport people into MIQ.

People in MIQ get tested on Day 1, Day 3 and Day 12. Which means that someone could go into MIQ today and test negative, they might test negative on Day 3, but they might test positive on Day 12 in a couple of weeks time. So this outbreak will have a long “tail”, but that doesn’t mean there is uncontrolled community spread. It just means it takes a lot of time for Covid to do its thing.

Most of New Zealand dropped to Alert Level 2+ last week, and Auckland (fingers crossed) moves to Alert Level 3 next week. We learnt a lot of new things during this outbreak, and as we drop back down the alert levels we will do things just a little differently, as we always have.

Is our system expensive? Sure.

But the alternative? We just have to look overseas to see what is happening, both in terms of the incalculable human and financial cost, and its a great big NOPE from us. Our Covid modellers estimate that if we hadn’t locked down when we did our ICU’s would have been overrun last week. And even if we had double the capacity (to match hospital capacity overseas) it would only have given us an extra couple of weeks, if that.

Just to be absolutely crystal clear here: lockdowns, masking up, contact tracing, isolation, all of these things? All of them work. But they won’t work on their own. They work in concert with each other. They work when used with strategic purpose. Vaccinations are part of that strategy. But it’s a mistake to make vaccination the entirety of the strategy, because when you hit roadblocks you run out of options real quick.

This is a better site. I have the link to California, but you can select any state. The charts have the daily new cases along with times that restrictions were imposed or lifted. Pick a red state, blue state, small state, large state. Show me some trend that shows that restrictions caused any measurable difference in anywhere.

But when you switch to the vaccination tab, the difference is striking, almost down to the county level. Where vaccination rates are low, that place gets slammed.

:laughing: Beat me to it.

Another ridiculous bit:

The “explosion” of NZ confirmed COVID cases this month is still only about one thousand new cases, or one in about every five thousand New Zealanders. Canada over the same period has had about 40K new cases, or more than one in every thousand Canadians.

I have colleagues in NZ that I talk to a lot, and I’ve watched from afar as y’all have spent months of mostly normal life with kids back in school, with no masks required, and with most people cooperating in common-sense precautions and taking the first chance they have to get vaccinated so they can solidify the safety they’ve achieved.

While other developed nations, including my own, have been sabotaged by snarling covidiots (including at the highest levels of government), with massively overwhelmed healthcare systems, and have lost on average a larger percentage of their population every two days to COVID death than New Zealand has lost in the entire pandemic.

Anyone from any other developed nation trying to tsk-tsk New Zealand about your “approach” to fighting COVID is absolutely full of shit. Good on ya lot, Banquet_Bear.

I just did.

Yeah, I don’t see how anyone could look at NZ pre-vaccine and argue that COVID restrictions don’t work. When done right, natch.

Can we at least mention that NZ is an island nation with 5 million people that can very effectively isolate itself? Miami-Dade County cannot do that.

And the doctor above’s point was that unless NZ intends to isolate itself forever, it will suffer the same issues down the road, all while causing far greater other harms to its population.

Thanks!

But they’re not intending to isolate forever. They have concrete plans for reopening more fully, which is part of the reason why they’re vaccinating as fast as they can.

It’s been ridiculous watching people flail around for some kind of excuses about “New Zealand exceptionalism” to avoid admitting that NZ just did a hell of a lot better job with smart, science-based pandemic measures than most other countries did. (Not just NZ either, though NZ’s been the most successful: for instance, China isn’t anything like “an island nation with 5 million people” either, but they’ve had less than 1% of the COVID deaths the US has had, in absolute numbers.)

And for a counterexample to the “economically disastrous” tut-tutting, there’s been the pandemic flourishing of New Zealand as a filming location. Which was already thriving pre-pandemic with blockbusters like Lord of the Rings as well as domestic films, but which boomed even bigger when NZ was basically the only place where filmmakers could have a reasonably normal shooting environment (after making it through the two weeks’ quarantine).

…of course you can! And that would mean you get one step closer to bingo!!!

So far you’ve ticked off:

-NZ is a tiny island
-Your vaccine roll out is too slow

Also with this post:

-General statement our response is wrong.
-You have no exit strategy
-Seems to wish NZ a Doomsday scenario

You’ve got five! Well on the way to bingo. Just keep going!

Thats really how bad the relentless “you just have to live with it” has gotten here. That New Zealand twitter developed a Bingo game based on the things that reply-guys say.

In response to “we are just a tiny island”…we aren’t an island. We are an archipelago. As is Hawaii, with a population of 1.416 million, which currently has a seven day case average of 624 with seven deaths just today. Or Fiji, with a population of 889,000, which is in the tail end of a devastating outbreak that peaked at 1000 cases per day and a total of 535 deaths so far.

Just because we had some advantages doesn’t mean that we didn’t have to work really fucking hard to get to where we are now. America is one of the richest countries in the world with more resources and ability to ramp things up than almost any other country. You spend twice as much on healthcare than any other developed nation.

Don’t pretend that you didn’t have advantages that most other countries don’t. Just look at how quickly you managed the vaccine rollout. And look how quickly it took to screw that up. 7 day average deaths are at 1600. The same as what you had at the start of December 2020, right before the Christmas surge. You got the weekly average as low as 200. Then you let it get out of control again.

I can’t stress this enough.

WE ARE FINE.

Our strategy is working. We are vaccinating at pace. People aren’t dying from Covid here. Our hospital systems are under pressure, but holding up. Our contact tracing team did a phenomenal job. Our labs worked overnight. Vaccination centres repurposed themselves overnight and are working at Level 4 conditions and breaking vaccination records. Essential workers at the frontlines making sure the country keeps going. This is a team effort. And we are doing just fine. We can’t be complacent. And the thing is…we won’t be.