Waatea News Column: Why 70 percent vaccination rates to end lockdowns carry a terrible hidden cost

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As the economic pain and frustration of lockdown bites this time around, people are desperate to see what moving back to the normalcy we cherish looks like.

In our rush to set some certainty over our future, however, I fear we will miss the terrible hidden cost.

At even a 70% vaccination level, the speed and sickness Delta causes to even those with a vaccination means an enormous number of hospitalisations.

We know Māori, Pacifica, the sick, the old and the poor will suffer the full brunt of these hospitalisations and deaths. Whether we like it or not, lockdowns to contain immediate flare-ups is the only ethical thing to do rather than just allow the virus to run amok in our communities!

We must aim for full vaccinations with the necessary infrastructure for annual boosters before we consider putting lockdowns aside.

To make the vulnerable pay the highest price so businesses can go back to making money is not a solution!

First published on Waatea News.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. But, Labour will capitulate! Just like they have done with the other Crisis. Housing, Homelessness, Health and Education.

    Fuck they’re useless.

    • FFS National fucked all those things up long before Labour came back in – Housing (although Labour don’t seem to have done much there either), Health and Education gutted by National (and their supports the Maori party) between 2008 and 2017 – super ‘rich’ blaming this on Labour; and homelessness – which is a by-product of shit housing policy – although as already alluded to, Labour must share some of the blame for this.

      The true clusterfuck is the neoliberal economic/social policy settings and focus – this started with Roger, Richard and co – was continued with increased vigor by National and it’s supporters, and even Labour (especially between 1999-2008) have continued to endorse a failed theoretical paradigm. They even claimed it was something new initially, but this approach has been tried for centuries and had never work because the market on has answers for business questions – not social.

  2. Couple of things:

    1) If you continue with this approach at some stage (little) Aotearoa’s standard of living drops – hell have no fury as a middle class housewife scorned
    2) Lets be honest. Half the reason we have a predicament is our health system and hospitals are on par with 1980s Bulgaria. The fact we make it work is due to some truely brilliant people however facilities wise we would be at the bottom of the OECD.

    Watch this space Covid was always a marathon as opposed to a sprint. No point leading at 10kms if you finish 83rd in the end

  3. Martyn
    In a previous post I said “Imagine if we had 100% vaccinated!” At that rate who would care for some virus? I wouldn’t.
    70% is simply not ambitious enough…it’s a half-arsed goal.

    • @TheKraut – we will likely not even get to 70% vaccinations because the anti-vaxxers and vaccine hesitants (anti-vaxxers in disguise) will prevent it. By their nauseous rants in support of the conspiracy theorists, they show such contempt for the majority of us who not only want to be vaccinated and protected but also want to protect others.

      In their denial of the facts, because the facts don’t fit with their own vacant narratives, they would be the first to demand specialist medical treatment from the very system they hold in contempt if they contract COVID.

      The scary thing is, if this is the level of contempt they show the majority, how do they treat their own families?

      • Just remember folks there is the HIV AIDS law where you can be prosecuted for intentionally spreading and infecting someone with a disease.
        This law could quite easily see someone who loses a family member to COVID 19 lay a charge with the police .
        Remember the originators Dna Rna can be traced right back to them now.
        So these anti vax people who are spreading the fear, may have something more to worry about. As that law is still on the books and been used 3 times to my knowledge in CHCH over aids infections. So Billy TK Viney Eastwood Sue Grey and the Outdoors Party guy at Envirowatch may soon find themselves in deeper water along with that voices of freedom outfit.

      • @youngsuffrajet. To be fair, not all anti-vaxxers are in support of conspiracy theories. IMO there’s a whole bunch of reasons:

        1. Libertarian views: simply, we have the democratic right not to.
        2. Simply don’t like authority in any shape or form.
        3. Mistrust the science around the development of the vaccines
        4. Don’t believe medical experts who claim vaccination leads to better public health outcomes.
        5. Point to alternative treatments.
        6. Argue that the vaccines are not entirely efficient, so what’s the point.
        7. Fall for conspiracy theories, eg microchips in the vaccines.
        8. God is against it.

        • Hey Bozo – I accept and respect your comment that not all anti-vaxxers are in support of conspiracy theories. They may have very good well-informed reasons for not taking a vaccine, although your point ‘7’ doesn’t seem to fit that rationale and as I have said before I respect everyone has the right of choice.

          My point is that those anti-vaxxers and vaccine hesitant types who do buy into the conspiracy theories are the ones who are putting the rest of us at risk and who will prevent us from reaching a magical percentage level of vaccines whereby we can all feel safe.

          • Agree but I was trying to say the anti-vaxxers are a broad church. Whatever their reason I wouldn’t say they have very good well-informed reasons. I think that is what bugs me: Counter-claims without evidence. One liners without substance or rhetorical claims that the dominant narrative drowns out alternatives.

            Many say their posts are edited. Are they Martyn? Let them post the counter-evidence, whatever it is (good luck with the microchip theory and God doesn’t approve). But what I don’t want to see is the unsubstantiated social media dribble that passes as alternative ‘truth’ and flicked from one like-minded soul to another.

            I guess that’s what they say of pro-vaxxeers, that they live in an echo chamber.

  4. What if we don’t get to “full vaccinations”? Maori and Pasifika vaccination rates are well off the pace as compared to the rest of the population. At what point do they need to take responsibility for this? The infrastructure is there, the funding is there and more to the point everyone else seems able to get it done. What’s stopping these two groups?

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

    • Knowledge about the problems with these new vaccines is hopefully what’s stopping them and any informed person.

      • Remind readers Kevin what those problems are, and where that information can be found. Hopefully, not from the clips ending up on your smart phone. And are you are referring to the Pfizer vaccine used in NZ or all Covid-19 vaccines?

        As for tangata whenua. Well, I can’t speak for Maori collectively or individually but I suspect its part cultural and part a legacy of colonial mistrust.

        • We’ll, Bozo, you want the info but only if it comes straight from the govt or Pfizer. Two dubious sources at best.
          Pfizer only has provisional approval in nz due to it being a novel technology and long terms affects unknown. That alone should be enough to be weary.

          While we’re all crapping our pants about delta (much severe, more transmissible) we’ve forgotten that the vaccine is to fight alpha.

          Age should also be a factor when considering getting the jab. Some of us are in relatively low risk groups.

          There is so much info out there If you’re willing to break out of the echo chamber.

          • “Pfizer only has provisional approval in nz due to it being a novel technology and long terms affects unknown. That alone should be enough to be weary”.

            Yep, I’ve also heard that. So it’s the science you don’t trust. Time will tell, won’t it. I’ll take my chances. Not doing it particularly for myself but I have a good many friends and family older than me. TDB has been over this before, like what if it was your elderly neighbour, your 92 yr old granny. But there may be other reasons. Don’t like being dictated to by authority? Fair enough. Unlikely to be made mandatory so its your choice although if you want to travel outside NZ an additional stamp in the passport may be required. An affront to the freedom we once enjoyed. Too right. But honestly I’d forget about travel for a while yet.

            What I want Off White is substance. Where IS the counter evidence? Just one peer reviewed paper/ review and I’ll shut up. And not something that has popped up in your phone by who knows who. “Dubious sources” is surely a matter of perspective.

            • Bozo, the science says long term effects unknown. So as far as trusting science it goes both ways.

              And yes, 92 yo granny has been vaccinated, so what’s the issue? Seems to me the Pfizer cultists have less faith in the vaccine than those with hesitancy.

              Oh, it’s likely to be made mandatory alright. The fascists are gaining momentum, big time.

  5. What makes lockdowns work is buy in from the public, end of story.

    Auckland is now enduring its 4th lockdown combined with no vaccination plan and its a long way from level 1. So just remind our vacant government ministers, using Auckland as Covids welcoming mat is wearing very very thin. Time has come to beef up disease control at the border AND share the pain and the risk! Other centres MUST step up.

    I mean surely even Grant Robertson can see the hit to the economy by doing this to Auckland so regularly is bad? Surely?

    If we continue to see Labour failing to use their brains and plan ahead properly, not just react when this hits them in the face, then future lockdowns are going to fail and that main defence is history. And that will be because Jacinda and her lightweight ministers failed, yet again, to think ahead and in doing so squandered their Peoples goodwill! And their well being.

  6. The 70% figure is entirely arbitrary. A number that, as I predicted, would be carried over from our big brothers on the other side of the Tasman Sea.

    In fact the government has a duty to provide the vaccine to everyone that wants one, but once that’s been done then lockdowns have to end, because we cannot have an anti-vaccine minority holding the rest of us hostage.

    • Oh you have another thing coming Andrew. That is probably exactly what will happen. This govt is highly woke.

  7. Okay, I’m about to repeat what’s already been said on the Daily Blog. But it’s bloody worth repeating!

    The SARS-COV2 virus is/will continuously mutate (eg. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.08.20.21262342v1.full).
    Both the CDC and WHO list “Variants of Interest” and “Variants of Concern” taking note of these new strains as they pop up and assessing their properties (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant-info.html)
    The current vaccines will therefore eventually lose efficacy against newer mutants. Of course PLEASE DO get vaccinated. It will lessen the chance of you dying if you get any of the CURRENT variants. But if infected you may still get seriously crook. You may even still cark it, especially if you have preexisting conditions.
    Obviously then, vaccines are NOT the gold plated guarantee of going back to “she’ll be right” pre-Covid days (the current right wing narrative). As Martyn has been saying since day 1, there is no going back to pre-Covid “normal”.
    Our island nation thousands of kms from anywhere is uniquely placed. We DON’T have to kill people (again, the right wing narrative) by opening up if we hit some “magic number of vaccinations” in the current vaccination effort. That still leaves us open to the tragic consequences seen overseas.
    By ongoing judicious use of lockdowns, MIQ, tight borders and good uptake of any NEW vaccines produced in response to each new variant, we can limit death of fellow Kiwis and preserve our health system (such as it is) for dealing with other ‘usual’ pre-Covid health issues it was originally designed for.
    This means NOT throwing everything away because Scotty from Marketing reckons there is no alternative. Who does he represent? The average person? Or his donors?
    Life in the 21st Century is going to be hard. The capitalist globalist dream is over. THIS is the new normal. A new economic and societal landscape is rapidly evolving. Too fast for the right wing dinsoaurs.
    We need to get used to it. Kia kaha everyone.

  8. GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS

    GOOD NEWS : Those who Vax .
    1.The encouraging news is that for vaccinated citizens the vaccine should protect around 95% of us from not having to be hospitalised or worse .

    2. If we can get the current Delta outbreak eliminated, with an accelerated vaccine rollout to Christmas , all people who want a vaccine should be able to get one (.I predict around 85 % NZ.)

    BAD NEWS : Those who don’t Vax

    1.As in in the UK and America those who have not been vaccinated are still getting sick and dying in significant numbers ; 95% of those in uk/us hospitals have not had the vaccine .How would that translate to NZ ?
    ( Current world cases of Covid 216 million -mortality 4.5 million .Mortality ratio on average 2.1 %. NZ pop 5.5 m x % of pop x 2%mortality rate.)

    NZ 70% Vax leaves 1,650,000 unvaccinated mortality 2% = 33,000 deaths
    80% Vax leaves 1,100,000 =22,000 deaths
    85% Vax 825,000 =16,500 deaths
    90% Vax 500,000 cases = 10,000 deaths

    That’s after every one who wants a vaccine has had one .
    Delta could potentially double this according to Dr Micheal Baker .

    a.Even at 90% vaccination , the 500,000 people who refuse to get the vaccine will place an enormous strain on the health system and create a public backlash as non vax Covid patients strain the system which prevents elective surgery and undermines normal treatment services and waiting times .

    b. Getting a vaccine “if things get bad ” won’t offer much protection in a full delta out break as it will take up to 3 months to get the best immunity response.

    c. The flu has an average mortality rate of .1 and covid 2.0 . While saying and believing “its no worse than the flu ” is a current mantra, this appears to be incorrect when most epidemiologists agree on this ratio covid is around 20x more deadly than the flu and delta higher again .So nodding along at a mask burning party with your echo chamber rightwing anti vax mates may not be as safe as first thought.

    d. It is also my hunch that we can only afford so many full lockdowns at$ 6 billion per 4 weeks and the account is already running low.
    If the vaccine program means everyone who wants a vaccine gets one by Christmas, I would not at all be surprised if the Govt begins to open the borders and we adapt to “living with the virus ” early to mid next year as the cost of indefinite elimination has become ” Fiscally Unsustainable “.

    e. Herd immunity won’t protect the” Deliberatley Unvacinnated “as people who are vaccinated can still catch and pass on the virus on to the unprotected group .

    f. That then means the remaining 10-15 % of the population ,( the ” deliberatley unvacinated ” ) become very vulnerable indeed .Ideological protection does not always give physiological protection and I have a deep concern and growing sadness for people I like who refuse to see the value of medical protection .Its tough.

    f. While the anti vax community currently appears smug in its own sense of immortality ,this may not end well , especially with a public health service which has the 2nd lowest number of intensive care beds in the developed world .

    Its a big question , to Vax or not to Vax .

    Ladies and gentlemen place your bets , choose wisely and research well , because depending on your choice ,some of us will not be leaving the casino .

  9. Black Lemming, cool modelling bro. Brought to you by the ‘2 weeks to flatten the curve’ lot.
    2% mortality rate you say. At 500 or so cases that makes 10 deaths. We’ll see.

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