Dr Rawiri Taonui – Māori highest number of Delta cases and deaths

By Contributor

On Saturday, there were a record 206 new cases in the Delta outbreak. Today, Sunday, there are another 113 cases. The 90 Māori cases on Saturday was a new record, today there were another 44. Māori have had the highest cases for the 35 consecutive days.

Māori are 16.7% of the population. At the beginning of the outbreak, Māori were the least impacted population, making up just 5.7% of Delta cases on 1 September. On Tuesday, Māori cases passed the total number of Pacific Peoples' cases. Māori are now the most numerically Delta impacted ethnicity. This is how we got there.

  • 22 September:  the government lowered Auckland from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3.
  • More people moving around inside Auckland and crossing the Auckland borders initiated a surge in Māori cases.
  • 29 September: Māori passed demographic reaching 16.9% of all cases.
  • 30 September: Māori cases pass the combined total of Pākehā, Asian and MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African people).
  • 5 October: Māori became the highest number of active cases.
  • 7 October: the government moved Auckland to Alert Level 3 Step 1.
  • A further surge in Māori cases followed.
  • 16 October: Māori (41) have the second-highest hospitalisations, 64 behind Pacific Peoples (105).
  • 2 November: Māori pass Pacific Peoples as the ethnicity with the highest number of cases.
  • 4 November: Māori man in his 40s dies while isolating in his home in Manukau. Māori have the highest number of Delta deaths (2).
  • 5 November: Māori man in his 50s dies while isolating at home in Mt Eden. Māori deaths rise to three.
  • 5 November: Māori pass 1,000 active cases.
  • 7 November: Māori have the highest number of daily cases for 35 consecutive days.
  • 7 November - Māori hospitalisations are rising 2.5 times faster than Pacific Peoples, the gap closing from 64 to 48 cases.

Māori Death Rate

The following table compares the death rate between earlier waves of Covid-19 (First Wave, Auckland August 2020 Outbreak, B117 Pullman & B1351 Papatoetoe Outbreaks) and the Delta Outbreak. The figures compare the number of deaths as a proportion of the number of cases with outcomes, that is, those patients who have either recovered or died.

During the earlier waves, the Māori death rate was 1:42 cases (1 in every 42 cases). This was 2.4 times higher than the national average of 1:101 cases.

The overall death rate during the Delta event is significantly lower, an average of 1:358 (1 death per 358 cases) principally because we have high over 65yrs vaccination rates. Two of the deaths, those of Māori men in their 40s and 50s are also subject to a coroners inquiry. Nevertheless, both cases were positive, and provisionally included, until a forthcoming decision from the coroner.

The Māori fatality rate is four times lower than the Māori death rate for earlier outbreaks. However, at 1:163 it is also 2.2 times higher than the average Delta death rate of 1:358 cases.

While the overall death rate is 3.5 times lower than the earlier waves, and an increase in mortality will bring ethnic ratios closer, the clear pattern is that Māori continue to have a Delta mortality risk double the average of other ethnicities.

There is further concern that the two recent deaths were younger than the usually more vulnerable over 65yrs age group. With Māori topping new cases every day, and over 1,000 active Māori cases, there is a further justifiable concern about more Māori mortality. Amplifying this, are lower Māori vaccination rates and the emerging risk of more Māori (and other) deaths among those isolating at home.

The Ministry of Health has not released the ethnic data, but given that Māori are the largest impact demographic, we can assume that Māori are a sizeable proportion of the 816 positive cases isolating along with 1,870 other whānau and friends in 661 households across Metro Auckland.

With Delta set to again surge above 200+ cases; the unease about what might unfold is real.

Noho haumaru, stay safe

Dr Rawiri Taonui