No Minister

The Delta and the Vax

with 11 comments

Who likes charts?

Of course you all like charts. They provide clear, concise information at a glance. A picture’s worth a thousand words and all that.

Herewith four charts showing four aspects of the Chinese Xi Snot virus across three countries – Israel, Sweden and India.

First up is their vaccination rates (fully vaccinated)

Next are their confirmed case rates.

The result for intensive care (India’s data is not good enough to be included here.

The all important Case Fatality Rate (CFR). The CFR is the total number of deaths divided by the total number of people that have the disease’s symptoms. In contrast, the IFR (Infection Fatality Rate) is the total number of deaths divided by the total number of people that carry the infection.

Unlike the Flu there are no solid estimates yet for national Covid-19 IFRs since the virus has not been around long enough to build the data around that key factor of people who get infected but show no symptoms and do not get tested. In the USA the CDC annually calculates the IFR for flu since it has decades of data that allow it to be confident that its figures are correct. The flu IFR is about 0.1% and there are no age-specific breakdowns of that figure.

Nevertheless, at the end of 2020 the CDC did try to calculate the IFR values of Covid-19 (Alpha) and even break it up into age-specific estimates, which are now very low at:

  • 0.003% for 0–19 years
  • 0.02% for 20–49 years
  • 0.5% for 50–69 years
  • 5.4% for 70+ years.

Israel has the latest Delta variant raging away but with no increase in the death rate, while similarly vaccinated Sweden has seen only a slight uptick in cases, while India moves along seemingly unchanged. Given that Israel pushed early and fast on their vaccination programme, the implication is that the population’s immune systems there are not as well protected against variants of the virus as in India and Sweden, likely because their immunity has been built more from exposure to the disease than to vaccinations.

On a side note the tiny island nation of Iceland, which has something like 71% of its population fully vaccinated has made a similar announcement to that of the Prime Minister of Australia in abandoning a zero-Covid-19 policy:

Icelandic health authorities hoped to achieve herd immunity through widespread vaccination, but those hopes were dashed when the fourth wave of infection began in late summer 2021. Local data shows, however, that vaccinated individuals are less likely to contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus and that vaccines are very effective at staving off serious illness.

Based on this information, the government’s current policy is to curb the spread of infection using mild social restrictions, rather than imposing harsh restrictions in order to eliminate the virus entirely. This policy allows Icelandic society to operate as openly as possible at any given moment.

The implications for New Zealand are clear:

  • Opening up the nation internally and across the borders will mean Covid-19 variations spreading through the population.
  • A vaccination rate of 70% across the whole population seems to be the best that might be achieved.
  • Vaccinations will not provide full protection against the variants, though it will greatly reduce the chances of severe illness and death in the most vulnerable, people aged 70+.
  • Herd immunity cannot be achieved by vaccination alone, especially given the targeted nature of the mRNA vaccines, and that their immunisation potency appears to decline in a matter of months (hence the talk of ongoing booster shots).
  • The death rates for these variants will not approach even the CFR flu-like levels of Covid-19 (Alpha).
  • Therefore future decisions on lockdowns should not be based on case numbers but on hospitalisation and deaths.
  • Push hard for treatments that work against Covid-19 infections, starting with monoclonal antibody treatment, which appears to be very successful.

Frankly there should be no further lockdowns at this point.


Written by Tom Hunter

September 3, 2021 at 3:32 pm

11 Responses

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  1. Delta, get it with your vaccine . Beta with your next jab and ..

    Paul Scott

    September 3, 2021 at 3:50 pm

  2. Vaccination curves in most countries (apart from UK) are flattening off at under 70% – which is not really sufficient.

    John JohnO

    September 3, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    • I wish your graphs had UK… as I expect NZ will reach a similar or better vaccination rate, eventually.

      John JohnO

      September 3, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    • Here you go

      Tom Hunter

      September 3, 2021 at 4:46 pm

  3. For supposedly scientific people we are remarkably unscientific

    Mass vaccination programs are highly appealing to public health bureaucracies – they are wonderful empire building exercises

    But mass vaccination programs can fuel epidemics – this has been known since the 1980s at least. They drive the evolution of variants in the direction of Vaccine resistance. Natural selection 101. The immunity conferred by a vaccine is rarely but not always less robust than the immunity derived from natural exposure

    We have had the influenza vaccine for decades, it is perhaps 40% effective and has to be continually updated as new strains of influenza appear

    Another thing that has been known and documented for a long time is that these fast mutating respiratory viruses tend evolve to more benign forms over time. Again natural selection 101, the less impact they have on their host the more their host will move around and have contact with new potential hosts.

    Why anybody thought or thinks vaccination is the solution to this problem is a mystery to me. The vaccine may be of help in vulnerable groups but the effort should have been focussed on treatment options for the small percentage of people who become extremely unwell and protecting the vulnerable.

    Trying to eliminate this thing was always going to be a loosing proposition


    September 3, 2021 at 5:50 pm

  4. You should include Portugal in your graphs.
    Greater vax rate than israel.

    Israel is an outlier when you compare other highly vaxed countries like Portugal, Singapore etc.

    [MOD: which handle do you want to use? This one or “Ra Hanare”? We don’t allow sock-puppets

    Roys the name, truths the game

    September 3, 2021 at 8:19 pm

  5. Tom Hunter

    September 3, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    • It is worth noting that these percentages are of the total population, as opposed to of the eligible population, which in most countries tis those aged 12 or more.

      I do wonder if Israel has a specific issue with Ultra Orthodox. They may be be more reluctant to vaccinate. Similarly I note the US level seems to have stalled. Their level of partisanship seems to result in a lower level of vaccination.

      New Zealand does not have these factors. Already 70% of those over 12 have booked or been vaccinated. Please note that this point is not about the speed of the rollout, but rather the willingness to vaccinate. Given that those aged 12 to 30 couldn’t enroll till 6 days ago, that is pretty impressive.

      My sense of New Zealanders (being sheeple as some would say on this blog) is that we will get a very high percentage of those eligible. That is, around 90% or a little over 80% of the total population.


      September 4, 2021 at 9:25 am

  6. I tried this debate on a blog from which I have now unsubscribed. I quoted Professor Martin Kulldorff who has taken the approach that vaccinating the vulnerable, not discriminating between vaccinated and non- vaccinated, not vaccinating children and not locking down the country is the way to go. Well, I was unprepared for the backlash. We are truly a country that doesn’t want to debate topics any more. Goodbye, New Zealand it was nice knowing you,

    Janine Peters

    September 4, 2021 at 8:20 am

  7. We keep hearing that these hastily developed vaccines “will greatly reduce the chances of severe illness and death in the most vulnerable”. I have yet to see any evidence for this.

    Note to vaccine advocates: endlessly repeating this statement does not constitute evidence.


    September 4, 2021 at 9:21 am

  8. Children and teenagers do not need any covid vaccines. There have been enough cases of heart inflammation caused by covid shots in these age groups to demonstrate that they are a risk without benefit. By promoting these poison jabs for 12 year olds, Wayne Mapp is advocating child abuse.


    September 4, 2021 at 1:47 pm

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