Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: New data shows elderly make up more than half and Māori a quarter of all pandemic deaths

People over the age of 70 make up over half of all Covid-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in New Zealand.

New data from the Ministry of Health shows that 95 people over the age of 70 have died with the virus.

The data, as of 1pm, analyses a total of 135 Covid-related deaths which occurred within 28 days of being reported as a case.

Alarmingly, the data shows that Māori, who make up 17 per cent of the population but 24 per cent of cases, are again disproportionately represented, making up a quarter of all deaths – of these nearly half were under 59 years of age.

In contrast, just six of the 74 New Zealand European and other deaths recorded were under 59 years old.

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said this figure was concerning.

“This is showing history repeating itself with inequalities which we see for all serious infectious diseases,” said Baker.

“We need to keep focusing over and over again on minimising inequalities which means really delivering more service to people who are most affected by infection and I think the challenge now is to raise vaccine and booster coverage rates for Maori and Pacific.”

Māori are 17 per cent of New Zealand’s population, but account for 24 per cent of cases

Twenty-one people of Pacific descent and eight people of Asian descent also add to the total of deaths.

The data also analysed deaths by vaccination status which highlights the importance of the vaccine.

More than half (69) of the Covid-related deaths were not fully vaccinated while 39 had received just two shots of the vaccine and 27 also received the booster.

Baker said the proportion of those not fully vaccinated was quite high.

“That’s interesting because vaccination is so high in old-age groups you’d expect routinely quite a high portion to be vaccinated,” said Baker.

Prior to the vaccine roll-out 25 people had died with the virus.

Covid-19 death demographics have been limited until now.

The death toll has been increasing during the Omicron outbreak and today there were 10 deaths, yesterday however saw a record of 24.

Baker said we’ve seen the majority of deaths occur since the Omicron strain became dominant in February.

“I think it would be a reasonable statement to say that we’re now getting to the point where a majority of deaths so far in NZ have been caused by Omicron.”

“Omicron will ultimately be the major cause of Covid-19 death in New Zealand over the next few months, in fact all the deaths from now will probably be from Omicron unless we suddenly get a new variant.”

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