August 27, 2020
Dr Rawiri Taonui | Covid Maori | World & New Zealand Numbers 27 August 2020
Dr Rawiri Taonui | Covid Māori | World & New Zealand Numbers 27 August 2020
The official total of World Covid-19 cases passed 24 million yesterday. While ever-rising numbers are concerning, the rate of new cases has begun to flatten out with new cases staying between 200,000 and 290,00 each day since 5 July.
This flattening could be because more countries are better managing the fightback against Covid-19. More likely is that numbers are outstripping the capacity to test. Untested cases and deaths are therefore unreported. There is considerable evidence for this conclusion.
John Hopkins University and Medicine have shown significant undercounting in 16 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin and North America. In Jama Internal Medicine, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that real rate of Covid-19 cases in 10 states in the US is six to 24 times higher than official figures.
Recently, the Minister of Health from India reported that a study of antibodies showed that up to 37 times more people (5.9 million) in the capital, Delhi, had been infected with Covid-19 than the official figure (156,000).
There is also considerable evidence for undercounting of deaths because untested community deaths are not counted as Covid-19 deaths. The South African Medical Research Council has estimated that Covid-19 deaths in South Africa are three times higher than the official figure of 6,000.
The Economist has shown that deaths are well over official totals in more than 40 states in the US, 12 countries in Europe, and in Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. The Financial Times published a similar study estimating the real number of Covid-19 deaths is up to 60% higher than official counts in 14 European countries and 13 other cities and countries around the world.
2009 Swine Flu
In 2009/2010 the Swine Flu pandemic officially had 491,0000 tested lab-confirmed cases and 14,499 deaths. Several reviews of the pandemic now estimate that infections were between 700,000 and 1.4 billion and deaths between 151,000 and 575,400. The majority were never officially reported because the victims were not tested. Actual cases were therefore 2.8 times higher and actual deaths up to 38.7 times higher than the official toll.
An Extrapolated Estimate
Previously, this writer has used a conservative three times the official figure to estimate the ‘actual’ number of cases and deaths. A factor of 4.0 times the official figure would hold for the actual number of cases, while a factor of 5.0 times the official figure would hold for deaths. That would give actual figures of 96 million cases and 4 million deaths for Covid-19.
New Zealand Situation
Māori, Pacific peoples, and other non-European groups are now over 92.5% of all cases in the Auckland outbreak. Māori are now over 9% of all cases but remain the lowest demographic relative to population. Pacific peoples have the highest number of cases in the Auckland outbreak.
There are 111 people in the large Pacific and Māori Btriple1 ‘Auckland community cluster’.
Up to eight predominately Māori cases, are under investigation in the Mt Roskill mini-cluster. This group may link to the main cluster. Alternatively, it may be the beginning of another cluster. Genome sequencing will inform this. The probability is they are related to the community cluster.
30 people in the main cluster are aged over 50 years of age. This is a high-risk age for Māori and Pacific Covid-19 patients. Three are in ICU and listed as critical.
The absence of random testing in Auckland before 11 August is the main reason that the Auckland outbreak has grown so large. The writer is pleased to say that some advocacy, directly and indirectly, has led to the strategy over the next week to test 70,000 members of the community over the next week including Māori and Pacific communities in Auckland.
The key follow-up to this will be to maintain a minimum of 100,000 tests per week 50% which should be in the five cities where isolation and quarantine facilities are situated and with a particular focus on the Māori and Pacific communities in Rotorua, Hamilton and Auckland.
Noho haumaru – stay safe and self-sovereign
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