NZ on the leaderboards

Phar Lap was a famous racehorse born in New Zealand near Timaru in 1926. He was bought and shipped to Australia, where he won a number of races in 1929 and 1930, including the Melbourne Cup. He was then sent to North America to race. After a prestigious win in Mexico in 1932, he died suddenly, possibly from eating poisoned grass but nothing was ever proven. Phar Lap’s remains were competed over – his heart (an unusually large 6.3kg) and hide went to Australia, and his skeleton to New Zealand. So, if you happen to want to see the skeleton of a racehorse from 100 years ago you can visit Te Papa. Why anyone might want to seems somewhat weird to me, but then people like all sorts of weird things.

I feel it will be hard to top yesterday’s picture (and no, I don’t plan to be taking all my clothes off on social media at any time in the near or far future for spurious fame or other notoriety), so I am back to infoblogging today.

A friend asked whether it was true that New Zealand is one of only 4 countries currently in lockdown, and whether we one of a very few first world countries that don’t have 100% of population (minus children and antivaxxers) fully vaccinated. Let’s take each question one at a time.

Is New Zealand one of only 4 countries in lockdown? It depends what you define by a ‘lockdown’. Rather than differentiate between locked down, and not, Oxford University has developed a ‘Stringency Index’ for measures that countries are taking to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. According to this Index we are definitely way up there in the stakes right now. We have a stringency of 85, beaten only by Venezuela at 86. Suriname is close behind at 83 and Malaysia at 81. However, there a number of countries in the 70s, including China, France, Argentina, Chile, Iran, Uzbekistan, Libya, Kenya and Botswana. All of these countries are closing workplaces, public events, restricting scale of gatherings and requiring people to stay at home to some degree.

Are we a rare developed country that doesn’t have the majority of the population vaccinated, other than children and anti-vaxxers? One problem with the question is that no-one knows the proportion of the population who are anti-vax, or are hesistant vaxxers. One approach, would be to define that proportion by the number of people who aren’t vaccinated after a country has had a significant vaccination campaign with sufficient vaccine available for all of the population to get vaccinated. We certainly couldn’t define that in New Zealand yet. However, we can look at our leaderboard standing on vaccinations, including on the OurWorldInData website. It looks like we are at around the 1/3 from bottom mark.

However, the above picture is for the whole world. Where are we at in terms of the developed world? I don’t know the answer because when I started to click on the little boxes to select countries, I realised I didn’t know what the definition of the developed world might be. I did my best to select appropriate countries. The result was that we look even worse, at the top of the bottom quarter.

On the question of what is the possible maximum number of people vaccinated, or how many people will refuse to get vaccinated, that will depend on country and culture. The proportion of under 15s (who can’t currently be vaccinated)ranges widely, from the high teens in countries I counted as developed, to over 40% in e.g. Eritrea or Afghanistan.

  • When I look up Denmark, they have 75% of the population vaccinated at some level, and 17% under 15 so that would suggest 3% of people are anti-vax.
  • Israel is interesting, as people have been suggesting it has a high level of anti-vaxxers, because it has only achieved 68% of the population with at least one shot of vaccine with an aggressive campaign. But Israel has 28% of its population under 15s, so that would suggest 4% anti-vaxxers, not too much different from Denmark.
  • The United Kingdom actually looks worse, with 13% of those who could be vaccinated not yet vaccinated.

It looks like we also aren’t going to get to know why we are so far behind. Our vaccinators have kept pace with the vaccine supplies coming to New Zealand, but we have received supplies a lot more slowly than many other countries. There is little evidence that we were being kind and leaving doses for less developed countries, like is sometimes alluded to. by government.However, the nature of the deal with Pfizer is being kept confidential so we have no idea what resulted in us being relegated to a back seat.

At this point, all we can do is keep putting vaccines into arms to get us up the leaderboard. Not to mention, hope that our lucky streak from 2020 means that this iteration of Delta variant infection has spread as widely as it is going to (it’s currently looking promising), and therefore by next week only a part of New Zealand will be in a Level 4 lockdown (sorry Auckland and Wellington).

Published by janecshearer

I'm a self-employed life enthusiast living in Gibbston, New Zealand

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