Monday, October 18, 2021

On Vaxathon, gangs and double standards

A few thoughts on that Covid-19 Vaxathon.

First, it was a public relations triumph. Mainstream media obligingly gave it saturation coverage all weekend, unblushingly functioning as cheerleaders for the government’s attempt to make up some of the ground it had lost through complacency, poor or non-existent planning and incompetent management.

Whoever dreamed up the idea of invoking the spirit of Telethon, the televised money-raising extravaganzas of the 1970s, is a marketing genius. It was a case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Those old enough to recall the Telethon phenomenon would have been smitten by nostalgia for a simpler, more innocent time when New Zealanders loved to unite behind a worthy cause. For the majority of the population with no memories of that era, the event would have seemed a captivating novelty. For one day, the country was able to live out the fantasy that we really are a team of five million, united in pursuit of a common goal, rather than a polarised society in which minority interests are encouraged to compete for political favour and influence.

Suddenly the focus was conveniently shifted from the multiple failings of the government’s Covid-19 strategy – the delayed vaccine rollout, the MIQ fiascos, the mulish refusal to use GPs and pharmacies to accelerate the vaccination programme, the inexplicable reluctance to approve rapid testing – to the carnival-like atmosphere of the Vaxathon. Almost literally overnight, a cause of national anxiety became something to celebrate.

The record vaccination figure for the day was the subject of admiring headlines in left-leaning media (notably the Guardian and New York Times) around the world, reinforcing Jacinda Ardern’s global image as a politician who can do no wrong. But the headline figure of a triumphant 130,000 jabs disguised a more telling statistic.

I had to search hard in media reports to find any breakdown of the figures, but I eventually came across one in a Newshub report, tucked underneath a breathless list of all the “influencers” – such as Lorde, Taika Waititi, Patrick Gower, Jason Gunn, Robyn Malcolm and Benee – who turned out to amplify the vaccination message (and, it must be said, to burnish their own images in the process).

According to Newshub, by 5.30pm on Saturday a total of 124,117 jabs had been administered. But of those, 87,106 were second doses. Only 37,011 recipients – roughly one-third of the total – received their first injection.

I’m no epidemiologist, but it seems to me that this rather underwhelming figure suggests that while the Vaxathon was highly successful in reaching people who were already convinced of the need for the Pfizer jab (and were further incentivised by free food, entertainment and other treats), it was significantly less effective in immunising the substantial segment of the population that has been slow to come forward.

To put it another way, the cheerleaders and teams of vaxxers on Saturday were largely preaching to the converted – people whom it can be assumed were likely to get their second dose anyway. What should have been the priority target group appears to remain stubbornly vaccine-hesitant. That rather diminishes the Vaxathon’s effectiveness, but don’t expect to see that deflating statistic highlighted in any of the rah-rah news stories.

By pointing this out, I probably risk being dismissed as a churl, a killjoy and a party-pooper, but that’s only partly true. Of course it’s a good thing that all those people got vaccinated - but no one should be in any doubt that the Vaxathon was a giant PR stunt as well as a public health initiative.

Meanwhile, other issues continue to simmer away on the periphery of the Covid-19 crisis. Such as:

■ We still don’t know the identity of the two Auckland women who used false papers to break lockdown rules and visit multiple locations in Northland, and then compounded the offence by refusing to provide information on their movements, even after both tested positive for Covid-19.

Calls for them to be named and shamed have been disregarded by police and health authorities, in stark contrast to the treatment of (1) the privileged Auckland couple who incurred the fury of the nation when they flew to Wanaka, and (2) the two Auckland sex workers who went to Blenheim and were named when they appeared in court (one was even shown on national TV).

Neither do we know whether the Northland rule-breakers will be charged with any offence, as the accused were in both other cases. Why the discrepancies?

According to the Northern Advocate, police say it could be several weeks before a decision is made on whether to lay charges against the two. Police showed no such hesitancy in the other cases, which inevitably leads to the suspicion that they’re playing for time in the hope that public interest in the case of the Northland pair will abate. If so, why?

Ardern, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and health authorities have been evasive when asked about the Northland women. Meanwhile, persistent rumours continue to circulate about their supposed gang connections and their reason for travelling north. Inevitably, questions arise: are the women being protected? Again, if so, why? Such suspicions are bound to arise when the women's behaviour is hidden behind a dense smokescreen.

A quid-pro-quo kicks in when the government appeals to New Zealanders for their co-operation in fighting Covid-19. In return for its goodwill and not-inconsiderable sacrifice (especially in the case of locked-down Aucklanders), the public is entitled to be told the truth and to be assured that the rules are being applied consistently, even-handedly and transparently. That certainly can’t be said of the Northland case.

■ Speaking of inconsistency in the enforcement of the rules, why do gang funerals appear to be exempt from any form of control? Twice recently, gangs have brazenly flouted Covid-19 regulations relating to large gatherings. In one case, police belatedly took what looks like token action, making two arrests and impounding four vehicles after a procession of more than 120 cars travelled from Porirua to Plimmerton, with gang members hanging out of car windows and travelling illegally on the backs of utes. The local police commander, presumably trying to excuse his officers’ failure to enforce the law, lamely said that the majority of those taking part in the procession behaved within the rules. I’m left wondering whether the police would have acted at all had their hand not been forced by publicity.

In the other case, at Onehunga, police were nowhere to be seen, although they must have known the event was in progress. The noise from the motorbikes and cars taking part in the funeral procession was deafening. The only conclusion to be drawn is that the police made a considered decision to stay away. Too hard.

News coverage of both funerals was relatively low-key too, leading to the suspicion that media as well as the police are more comfortable going after soft targets – for example, Brian Tamaki and a house-full of idiotic North Shore party-goers – than the Mongrel Mob or the Head Hunters.

The gangs have decided, quite rationally, that they can defy the law with impunity, secure in the knowledge that if it comes to a show of strength, the police will blink first. The consequences hardly need to be spelled out. Public confidence in law enforcement will be undermined – and the longer police and the government allow the gangs to get away with it, the harder it will be to re-assert the rule of law.


Anna Mouse said...

What oh what could the be hiding one wonders.....

As for the 'vaxxathon' more like a vomitathon given that the true stats are hidden away in the gorse pockets.

David McLoughlin said...

Mainstream media obligingly gave it saturation coverage all weekend, unblushingly functioning as cheerleaders

To say I am queasy at how the media acted as cheerleaders over the weekend is an understatement. However there are some signs some media are letting a few expert contrary views through now. I don't want a bunch of conspiracy loons given any weight at all, but I do want to hear a lot more about why the UK, Ireland, Denmark and NSW are removing restrictions for the vaccinated, or even for their entire populations.

But the headline figure of a triumphant 130,000 jabs disguised a more telling statistic.

Like you I had to search. Burrowing in the Ministry of Health's website, I find it claims 83 per cent of eligible people had had their first dose by Friday, and 85 per cent by today. Additionally, 62 per cent of eligible people had had both doses by Friday, and 66 per cent today.

So the big numbers on Saturday were those getting their second dose. They included me; but I had booked that appointment eight weeks ago when I had my first

It was hardly the raging success it was painted, but any increase in vaccination rates will save even more lives than are demonstrably being saved now -- hardly anyone is dying in Auckland despite the virus clearly being well and truly loose across the city.

What increasingly concerns me is the rising wail of voices demanding no easing of lockdown/alert/whatever restrictions at 90 per cent dual vaccination rates, or even 95pc. it seems no level of vaccinations will ever be enough for those who shout the loudest.

I think the time has come that we follow the UK, Ireland, Denmark, NSW and many other places and reward those who are vaccinated by removing the restrictions on them. That is the ultimate carrot for vaccination. Remain unvaccinated and be locked out of work, shops, leisure and travel. Be vaccinated and everything reopens to you. I shall hold my breath until 4pm today. Surprise me, Jacinda.

Pete said...

'Only' 39,000 first jabs were given? Is that better than those 39,000 not being vaccinated?
Were some of them likely to be in the 'hard to reach' category and the nature of the event drew them in?

Some of them were in Auckland, any one of them a candidate to spread the virus there or join the hospital list.

There are powerful voices persuading people to opt out. I like reading about American media people and pastors who for months crusaded about the virus being nothing to worry about, persuaded their audiences to not be vaccinated and the evils of the vaccinations, who have capitulated and died from the virus.

Like reading about it in the sense that some of their followers (and family) suddenly see sense.
I don't like reading about it and considering the impact their idiocy has had on others.

Something to reflect on is why such a common sense health measure has to be 'sold' by giveaways and gimmicks and becoming an entertainment event.

Maybe the media should have been more ruthless in its presentation of mass graves, containers being used as temporary morgues, hospital wards full of patients hooked up to machines keeping them alive. In a (so called ) civilised country, the USA.

Even without that though claims have been rife of 'ruling by fear.' We have hardly been exposed to the reality of the virus which other countries have endured, are enduring. When fear doesn't work, carrots don't work, entertainment doesn't work, what's left?

Karl du Fresne said...

Of course it's a good thing, as I said, that all those people were vaccinated. The point I was trying to make (obviously not clearly enough) is that the figures were spun to obscure the fact that "Super Saturday" had only limited success in reaching the people who most needed to be jabbed - i.e. those who hadn't already a first shot.

David 888 said...

David, it bothers me the sort of evil that it seems you are trying to promote – the unvaccinated should be "locked out of work, shops, leisure and travel. Be vaccinated and everything reopens to you." How less sinister are you trying to be than the hand-maidens of totalitarianism we have in power at the moment.

Surely, a free society is free in every form. Just because someone chooses to question the narrative should not preclude them from their fundamental rights – one of which is the right to work and to feed their families. Is it your belief that society should set up a siege against such people and starve them to death or into subjugated obedience? Can you see how ugly that looks?

What if we considered alternate strategies, such as that of Uttar Pradesh. Unlike NZ's team of 5 million, this Indian province has a mere population of 240 million people. They did not invest in expensive vaccines or vacuous Vaxathons.

But here's the rub, "News18 reported, "Let's look at the contrasting picture. Kerala, with its 3.5 crore population - or 35 million, on August 25 reported 31,445 new cases, a bulk of the total cases reported in the country. Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state with a population of nearly 24 crore - or 240 million - meanwhile reported just 22 cases in the same period." How did Uttar Pradesh flatten the curve? The strategy employed by Uttar Pradesh you will find is the "magical medicine home treatment kit responsible for eradicating COVID [which] contained the following: Paracetamol tablets [tylenol], Vitamin C, Multivitamin, Zinc, Vitamin D3, Ivermectin 12 mg [quantity #10 tablets], Doxycycline 100 mg [quantity #10 tablets]. Other non-medication components included face masks, sanitiser, gloves and alcohol wipes, a digital thermometer, and a pulse oximeter."

Wow! Who would have thought? We don't have to line up the great unwashed to shot them and dispose of their covid-free bodies into mass graves of past atrocities.

Terry M said...

I’m sure you will recall that the Telethons in the 70s showed a spirit of giving. An effort by the population and celebrities to see how much kiwis could get in behind an idea and donate. This vaxathon strikes me as a cynical government taking advantage of how they have indoctrinated people into the “what’s in it for me” mindset. Well it worked with the media but I think it’s a bit low stooping to corruption to achieve what should have already been a done deal months ago.
The gang situation is little different to the Taliban. They are terrorists. The police have used military to assist in policing before during emergencies. Set up a paramilitary group to combat gangs along the lines of the AOS.

Chris Morris said...

The real analysis will be done on the daily data in about a week's time. Then with a 7 day rolling average, the effect (or lack of one) will be seen. I suspect many of those vaccinated were going to get it done some time that week.
I was very surprised at the number of vaccination cheerleaders who had their second injection that day. That very much indicates they believed in "do as I say, not as I do".

Richard said...

David Seymour made the excellent point that Saturday was the 21st best day in NZ for the number of first jabs given.
Not the best, not even in the top ten, but the 21st !!
You will never read that in any MSM.

pdm said...

The burning question from Saturday is this:

How many of those receiving their first jabs will turn up at the appointed date and time (and I assume they all got a second jab appointment time and date) for their second jab - unless about 37,000 do then the whole charade has just been a waste of time and money,

Well at least Jacinda, Grant and Chippy will not lose any sleep about the money - it is only other peoples after all.

Will this most open and transparent government tell us - doubt it.

Andy Espersen said...

Of course I admire this excellent expose’ of the cynical spin displayed by our government - who wouldn’t? But it only deals critically with the nuts and bolts of lockdowns and vaccinations - the theory behind it all is not commented on.

Nobody still seems to quite comprehend that the whole, miserable, New Zealand lockdown story, commencing in March last year, was basically a terrible mistake – simply because it introduced legislation which was both ethically and legally wrong.

Ethically, as the legislation was manifestly inequitable and unfair : its ramifications hurt the economically and psychologically vulnerable of us horribly - while the richer of us, with secure incomes and homes, often quite enjoyed the lockdowns.

Legally, as lockdown laws blithely ignored and overruled all established, albeit mostly unwritten citizens’ rights – unwritten in a democratic country simply because no author of constitutions could imagine a government ever abolishing basic human rights such as being allowed to leave your home - to visit friends and family – not to be forced to undergo medical treatment - to employ yourself and others in your lawful occupation – to enter your own country any time you chose.

Doug Longmire said...

you actually did make the point clear Karl.
An excellent article.

Karl du Fresne said...

Re David 888: it's probably not necessary for me to say this, but publication of comments on this site doesn't imply endorsement.

Doug Longmire said...

David's comments are, imo wildly inaccurate.
Ivermectin is not a treatment. Here is an extract from a scientific paper which assesses the effectiveness of ivermectin in killing Covid virus.

To put it simply - concentrations of ivermectin from oral dosing simply cannot ever reach levels that will have any effect upon viruses. The effective anti virus concentration is 100 times the dose that a human can swallow and absorb into their bloodstream.

"Ivermania began in early 2020, when a group of scientists in Australia found that ivermectin, a widely used anti-parasitic drug, could apparently stop SARS-CoV2 from replicating in vitro. There are always limitations to in vitro studies, but especially in the early days of the pandemic, a repurposed medication to treat COVID19 was an exciting prospect.

Unfortunately, from inception there appears to have been overreach. The original paper that found that ivermectin inhibited viral replication in cell culture used a 5 micromolar concentration. In vivo the drug has a Cmax of about 50 nanomolar. That means that dose that was required in vitro (IC50) is 100x higher than what can actually be achieved in vivo (Cmax). Even using a dose much higher than the safe/approved dose is unlikely to reach the level that was required in vitro."

Doug Longmire said...

The inconsistencies of policing are gross and ongoing. I have already noted the two instances of:-
a/ 74 year old man arrested, prosecuted and fined for the "crime" of going whitebaiting alone up a remote river, and
b/ the man pepper-sprayed, wrestled to the ground by two police using knee on throat ( George Floyd style). handcuffed and arrested for the "crime" of not wearing a facemask in a Countdown carpark.

However, gangs can have great convoys up SH 1, hanging out car windows etc. and they are apparently let go - no George Floyd style pepper spray or physical attempt to halt the illegal activity.

Also I note that the Vaxathon did achieve higher vaccination levels, but I wondered - "What are we coming to in New Zealand, where we have to be treated like school children on a Gala day to achieve a basic Public Health imitative? Do we really need to have Cindy's kindy ?"

Roger Armstrong said...

The problem for the Government is that any already partially or completely hesitant "antivaxxers" reading overseas non-cheerleader media will be becoming more hesitant about vaccination, not less. The experience of the early vaccination countries like Israel and UK is clearing showing that the vaccination has a pretty short half life and that "taking two jabs for the country" is going to turn into taking a jab every 6 months for the rest of your life.

I have always thought that the case for getting vaxxed if you were healthy and young was pretty poor, as more evidence comes out about the waning nature of the vacccine (which was never mentioned in the messaging) and the side effects I think more young, healthy people will make the decision to face the virus down "naked".

Will the Government just accept whatever vaccination rate arises from people's natural inclination, or will they stick to some predetermined ideal percentage before letting us out to play again? Unfortunately, I think it will be the latter and it will be a struggle.

Bush Apologist said...

Doug, can I suggest that when publishing "an extract from a scientific paper", seemingly to refute another's comments, that you in fact accurately reference the paper - I for one would very much like to read it for myself!

The vaccine mandates announced last week don't yet appear to have been put into law, or backed up with a PHO . . .

Andy Espersen said...

Brian Tamaki and a couple of others will be charged, I hear.

When the judge asks police what crime they are charged with, the answer will be, “Your Honour, these protesters insist we uphold clause 11 in the NZ Bill of Rights which states that everyone has the right to refuse to undergo any medical treatment”.

Doug Longmire said...

Fair comment Bush.
Here is the paper:-

Brendan McNeill said...


There is emerging evidence that suggests we are traveling down the wrong path with mass vaccinations against covid-19. The present approach drives virus mutations and the evidence from Israel, the UK and elsewhere is that the leaky vaccines do not provide the level of immunization initially claimed by Pfizer, or our Government.

A former Pfizer executive and Scientist has long been sharing this viewpoint:

A report from today describing growing case numbers in the UK, a highly vaccinated country re-enforces this view:

It ought to be obvious that we are not going to vaccinate our way to herd immunity. In fact vaccination may ultimately increase our vulnerability to Covid-19 and its derivatives. We know that the double vaccinated are equally able to catch and spread the virus. Recent data out of the UK reveals more double vaccinated persons 40 and over are catching covid-19 compared to the unvaccinated, per 100,000 of population. Therefore, Vaccine Passports, travel restrictions, jab mandates, and punitive measures against the unvaccinated make no rational sense.

Our Government and their advisors must surely know this by now, so why no pause for thought? Are they too deeply invested in the current narrative to contemplate a change of course?

We are suffering from the politicization of the virus which presents a greater risk to us than the virus itself.

Alexandra Corbett Dekanova said...

The present vaccination hysteria can cause future trouble when vaccinated people become overconfident and less inclined to follow basic common sense rules like distancing, mask wearing etc. as it is happening now in Europe. The vaccines that are available are not effective to the point that can allow people to live as we did before and as many here hope they will be able to. The vaccination passports, mandates etc. are logically meaningless. The better protection can be antigen testing at schools, work places etc. that can detect those that can spread illnesses (not only Covid), I mean testing vaccinated as well as unvaccinated.

Vaccination is important to protect you but with the vaccines we have it should not be the only weapon. The example of Uttar Pradesh is worth following with Ivermectin or without (I read good articles and watched good videos showing that it is working for Covid, e. g. dr. John Campbell on you Tube). Families and especially poor families should be given vitamines, masks etc and the mainstream media should promote simple lifestyle changes we all can do to boost our immune system, e g. stop smoking (2X more mortality from Covid), vitamines, Zinc, going outside as much as possible, exercises etc.

We also need to look at Covid-19 without panicking, it is not Spanish flu ((9.100 dead in NZ, up to 50 mill.worldwide), nor SARS-1. Yes, it can be serious but there are steps of prevention we all can take. We should stop to be so fascinated by the numbers of cases.

But the main thing is that the Government and the media should stop to incite the vain hope that vaccination (even 90%) will save us from Covid and give us back freedom that we enjoyed before. Contrary to that, their duty is to prepare people for changes and give us realistic vision and most of all prepare the hospitals and medical staff (that had to happen a year ago).

Alexandra Corbett Dekanova

Eamon Sloan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Morris said...

Further to my post on the 18th, Cactus Kate hos got the actual numbers which show the vaxathon caused a drop in both first and second injections. It was just a PR exercise to promote the Labour party.

CXH said...

Eamon, your thoughts that the booster shot will be due next year is well out. I had my second shot in May, so my 6 months is up in November.

At present they are still talking about it and waiting to follow the science, whatever that means. So the worst decision I made was to just step up and get jabbed early. I will now be more vulnerable than those that couldn't be bothered. Plus there were never any rewards offered if you stepped up early.

Doug Longmire said...

Quoting you Eamon:-
Recall that Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said that policing as a service is performed with “consent”.

You are dead right. This current clown is the most p.c., woke and gang friendly Police commissioner ever. Very much like a Gilbert and Sullivan character.

I am serious - listen to the Pirates of Penzance "The Ruler of the Queens Navy" - with his sisters and his cousins and they number by the dozens and his aunts !!

Andy Espersen said...

Just this morning we hear the details of Government's new "Traffic-light plan". Just more of the same - more complex rules and regulations - no more freedom. But freedom is what we need in this situation.

And then we see Brian Tamaki thrown into jail, strip-searched like an ordinary criminal - only standing up for freedom. I know people who are now intending not to have their second jab just to back Tamaki - and, of course, at the same time fighting the Labour government's brain-washing tactics. Bravo for our freedom-loving Maori race - always instinctively against being told what to do.

Doug Longmire said...

Actually - it was HMS PInafore.

Hilary Taylor said...

I emailed Destiny Church and said I didn't bear them any ill will...actually I rather admire their vexatiousness. Who am I to knock them, 'their people'...does the Bish speak of 'his people'?...he should, it's quite the thing these days...if they support folks living better lives for their kids and families, more power to them. Is it any different to the Mormons & the like? Down here in ChCh we continue to pay lip service to the rules...I still don't have the app, I ignore the PM's rallies, I mask-up when I have to and I carry on. Gist I get from today's pronouncements is that we down here would be better stalling below 90% as L2 is a bit freer. Happy daze..I'm sticking with my 2nd dose at 12 wks, hell/high water.

Alexandra Corbett Dekanova said...

"Vaccines do initially prevent people from catching Covid, but as the experience of Israel, the US and the UK attests, effectiveness begins to wane almost immediately. The latest UK data shows vaccine efficacy waning by around 5 per cent per week in double-vaccinated people over the last six weeks. Moreover, as efficacy declines, double-vaccinated people are more likely to catch Covid than the unvaccinated, with rates of infection in double-vaccinated people higher in every age group over 30.
The vaccinated are not just more likely to catch Covid, they are more likely to spread it. A study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) done in Wisconsin showed that vaccinated people have the same high viral loads as unvaccinated people when they are symptomatic, but a much higher percentage of vaccinated people (82 per cent) had high viral loads while asymptomatic compared with unvaccinated people (29 per cent). This means unvaccinated people are less likely to spread Covid than vaccinated people because the former are more likely to stay home in bed whereas the latter are much more likely to go to work." (Rebecca Weisser, Covid Lepers, The Spectator Australia 23.Oct. 2021)

So the goal of 90% vaccinated, all the passports and mandates are absolutely meaningless. The Government has had time to look round the world and choose the best way possible to treat the Covid. It seems that they have stopped to look cca in March.

There are 6 more long weeks of level 3 for Auckland till 29th November. Can you imagine what can happen? And all for nothing, just for the ambition of our PM to achieve unachievable.
Alexandra Corbett Dekanova