National | Māori Covid-19 Cases

Unvaccinated Māori pay ultimate price for pandemic

Covid-19 analyst Dr Rawiri Taonui says the lowest 12 district health boards for Maori vaccination rates are the highest 12 district health boards for Maori infections.

He has a blunt message: "Get vaccinated. Protect whakapapa, Protect whānau.”

As of midnight last night, there were more than 23,000 active Covid cases in Aotearoa, bringing the total number of active cases in this country, to almost 147-

Taonui talked to Te Ao Tapatahi about where Omicron's future is heading. "Last week we had three days in a row where the numbers doubled but that coincided with the introduction of the rapid antigen tests, which picked up a lot of people that weren't being tested via PCR."

“We are on track to hit a daily peak of 30,000 new cases in a day and 1200 people in hospital.”

Back to online teaching

Taonui said the Omicron variant has been infecting more young people, which he attributes to younger people being more social.  "They are more likely to spread it to other age groups in their bubbles. As Omicron moves through the community we will see the numbers of older age groups pick up.”

Counties Manukau has recorded more than 43,000 and is considered the epicentre of the pandemic, which does not surprise Taonui. “The location, being closer to MIQ facilities, has always been a worry as well as the health profile of the Pacifika and Māori peoples, poorer housing and all of those other social-economic problems.

He claimed Aotearoa never really sufficiently strategised around that, "so it’s not surprising and very concerning of the status around those communities.”

With the number of cases in schools rising Taonui says the country should move back to online teaching "to buy Aotearoa more time in dealing with a stagnated vaccination rollout for youth, particularly in the Māori communities”.

Superspreader event

Even though there are high numbers of vaccinated people with the virus, Taonui said that because the vaccinated were the majority it might look as if the Pfizer vaccine wasn’t effective but when the overall calculation was adjusted it painted a different story. “Unvaccinated people are three times more likely to be infected and 10 times more likely to be hospitalised.”

“We have good international data that points out that Pfizer has a weakness in preventing infection but the Pfizer booster is highly effective at preventing severe disease and it stays stronger for much longer.”

Taonui said the Wellington protest was a “superspreader” event and he was saddened that “a lot of Māori are victims of misinformation and incitement to violence by a small well-known group of the national front and right-wing resistance. These people left knowing what was coming and Māori have been left on the front line paying the price.”

Those people were publishing threats to “arrest the Prime Minister, hanging her and executing doctors and nurses. They are the people that need to be held to account.”