Highest daily case number in the pandemic – Expert Reaction

Ninety-four cases of Covid-19 were reported in the community today, the largest number of new cases reported in one day since the start of the pandemic.

More than half (53) of the cases today are yet to be linked to the outbreak. In today’s media briefing, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health is approving and recommending a third primary dose of the Pfizer vaccine for people over the age of 12 who are immunocompromised.

The SMC asked experts about today’s announcement.

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, Immunologist, Associate Dean (Pacific), Head of University of Otago Wellington Pacific Office, and Senior Lecturer, Pathology & Molecular Medicine, University of Otago Wellington, comments:

“The vaccination target details being announced this week for Aotearoa New Zealand will need to include 90 – 95% vaccination targets for Māori and Pacific peoples, to help keep vulnerable communities safe from COVID-19.

“Māori and Pacific communities continue to be heavily impacted as a result of the current Delta outbreak. It was known from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic that Pacific peoples and Māori communities were vulnerable to being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and would require prioritisation to avoid making pre-existing health disparities and inequities worse.

“Māori and Pacific vaccination rates remain behind the overall rate as more time has been needed to catch-up with other groups given the initial vaccination roll-out in Aotearoa New Zealand prioritised other groups to get vaccinated first.

“Courage in the face of adversity continues to be demonstrated by our Pacific and Māori communities and respective health workforces, who’ve been working tirelessly, mobilizing and rallying to continue doing the work that’s needed to reach some of the hard to reach in our communities – and protect our most vulnerable from COVID-19.

“Accessibility issues persist for hard-to-reach communities and more vaccination outreach activities and events that are resourced appropriately are needed.

“Continued momentum with accelerated vaccination, testing and COVID-19 prevention efforts must also continue in a way that reduces barriers and builds trust for people – with the appropriate and targeted approaches focused on getting help and assistance out to those who need it most. 24/7 clinics and mobile vaccination clinics, buses, vans, door-to-door efforts are still much needed and would further assist shift workers, those with disabilities and other vulnerable groups and many others who can’t get to vaccination centres running during the daytime.

“The announcement today of approval and recommendation for a 3rd dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for people who are immunocompromised is welcome news at this time and an important step in keeping some of our more vulnerable safe.

“We’re continuing to see unsettling growth in COVID-19 case numbers reflecting Delta transmission within the community and across the Auckland Region with recent escalation in persistent unlinked mystery cases of unknown origin appearing under high alert level conditions at a time when vaccination levels are not high enough yet to keep everyone safe and protected from COVID-19.

“A total of 12 from today’s reported hospitalised COVID-19 cases were aged under 39 years, and represent the least vaccinated age ranges. The younger cohorts have had less time to get vaccinated and need to be encouraged and supported to get their vaccines.

“Please get vaccinated, please get tested, follow the alert levels rules and importantly reach out to others around you and help them do the same.”

No conflict of interest.