Omichronicles March 25: Is New Zealand’s death toll accurate?


Life moves pretty fast on the Omicron wave. (If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss the one part of the press conference you actually needed to hear.)

Nearly two years into the pandemic, we’ve circled back around to unprecedented times and Keeping Up With The Covid cases, lights, and phases takes a village.

So each weekday, we’ll bring you Omichronicles, tales from the O-surge and advice to keep you on track.

Enjoying a little post-Covid immunity: ‘It’s so nice to get back in the world’

Rachel from Auckland was nervous about catching Covid-19.

The 44-year-old has asthma and other underlying conditions, and was concerned how her compromised immune system would react if she became infected.

The fear of catching Covid-19, she said, was almost as bad as the virus itself.

READ MORE:
* Omichronicles March 16: Waikato horse rider with Down Syndrome shares their isolation journal
* Omichronicles March 14: ‘Are you sure your date hasn’t got Covid?’
* Omichronicles March 4: ‘Ew mum, you stink’ Toddler alerts parent to Covid symptom

Now Rachel has had the virus, she is enjoying being able to relax while out and about with her post-Covid immunity – although a lingering, dry cough is making her feel like “that guy” when out in public.

Omichronicles: tales from the O-surge and advice to keep you on track.

Unsplash/Stuff

Omichronicles: tales from the O-surge and advice to keep you on track.

According to the Ministry of Health, although our bodies “can produce an immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, it is not yet known how long this immunity lasts.

“Initial research has indicated that antibody responses can last for several months in some people.”

Rachel has been making the most her new-found freedom, catching up with friends, going out to dinner and into the office rather than working at home for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic – all things she was avoiding as much as possible before she caught the virus.

“It’s so nice to get back into the world. You’re almost re-energised,” she said.

Rachel is vaccinated but delayed getting her booster for an important work meeting because she had reacted to the vaccine the first time around. She is booked in now and wishes she had been boosted before she became infected.

How long immunity after infection lasts is still being studied, but can last a few months.

Getty Images

How long immunity after infection lasts is still being studied, but can last a few months.

Given the choice between catching Covid-19 and enjoying the freedom of immunity for a few months, or not catching the virus at all, Rachel said she would definitely pick not catching the virus.

She suffered severe fatigue (to the point she couldn’t sit up in a chair and had to be reclined) for 24 hours before getting flu symptoms and a fever.

Despite being able to work from home, she was off for eight days because of how she felt.

“It’s a pain in the a..,” she said.

Do you have an Omicron story to share? A question you’d like to pitch? Seen a lighter take that brought you joy? Email us at omichronicles@stuff.co.nz

Two years on from the first lockdown, a look back at our favourite moments

On March 25, 2020 New Zealand entered its first level 4 lockdown.

It was a pretty unnerving time, but over the past two years the internet’s sense of humour shone and countless memes, parody songs and ridiculous moments have seen us through. Here’s some of our favourites.

During Covid’s earliest days, parody songs were the go-to for a laugh. Chris Mann’s “My Corona” gem is still one of the best.

For a long time the 1pm pressers had a cult-like following in New Zealand. Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield was nominated for TV Personality of the Year in 2020 (which he gracefully withdrew from) and the press conferences had their own IMBd page.

But our favourite moment has to be courtesy of Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and his press conference faux pas in August 2021.

The minister’s “spread your legs” comment to the nation saw him become the subject of memes, videos and souvenirs.

He was a great sport about it, though and was seen to embrace the meme in a September 2021 press conference – where he proudly drank from his own “spread your legs” mug.

Is New Zealand’s death toll accurate?

As reported by Chris Hyde

When Ministry of Health officials stand up at 1pm and say a number of Covid-infected people have died, we should naturally feel great sadness for the families who’ve lost loved ones.

But it would be wrong to immediately assume Covid was the sole reason each one of the lives ended.

Government data – as of March 22 – shows 41 people have officially died of Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

This data suggests Covid-19 has contributed to four deaths and two deaths of those with Covid have been ruled as not related to the virus at all.

More than 130 Covid deaths are yet to be classified. Some of these can take some time to work out.

It’s likely many of these will have died of Covid, but there may well be some who did not. Instead, they may have died “with” the virus.

The rapid spread of Omicron means some people will die ‘with Covid’ rather than because of it.

123RF

The rapid spread of Omicron means some people will die ‘with Covid’ rather than because of it.

This was less of an issue pre-Omicron. But the unprecedented spread of a variant that leads to milder outcomes means that when a high proportion of the population is infected some will die “with Covid”, rather than because of it.

This is further complicated by the fact some people have existing conditions made worse by Covid and subsequently die. Is this a Covid death or something else? It’s hard to say.

Some Danish scientists believe their daily death toll is about 40 per cent exaggerated.

The reality is that it isn’t something doctors and officials can be certain of immediately. It takes time. So all you will hear from the Ministry of Health each day is the number of people who have died with Covid.

Our true toll will be known much later.

Read the full story here

Tell us honestly

Set up a vege garden for autumn

With supermarket’s struggling to keep shelves stocked due to supply chain issues, and many of us facing Covid-19 isolation at some stage in the not-too-distant future, plenty of people are trying to find ways to be more self-sufficient at home.

Celery is a wonderful flavour-enhancer in soups and stews and deliciously crunchy when served raw with dip.

BARBARA SMITH/Stuff

Celery is a wonderful flavour-enhancer in soups and stews and deliciously crunchy when served raw with dip.

Which makes now the perfect time to start thinking about setting up a basic vegetable and herb garden at home.

Brussell sprouts, celery and garlic do great in the colder months. Find our favourite five vegetables to plant, and the best growing methods here.

The added bonus? Fruits and vegetables can help boost the immune system, so get growing.



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