Māori and Pacific people up to three times more likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19

Māori and Pacific people are up to three times more likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19 a new study shows. 

It's the first study of its kind to use data from the pandemic - analysing nearly 2000 New Zealand COVID-19 cases. 

It revealed just how vulnerable Māori and Pacific communities are.

A 55-year-old Pacific Islander, or 59-year-old Māori person faces the same risk of hospitalisation from COVID-19 as an 80-year-old Pakeha.

Rawiri McKree-Jansen, the Medical Director for National Hauora Coalition, says it's confronting.

"It's quite challenging and confronting in that it tells us the truth, that Māori are at much greater risk."

The study found Māori 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19 and Pacific people three times more likely.

 Andrew Sporle, the co-author of the study, says it's sobering. 

"We now know that if the disease is caught they have a much higher risk of a really bad outcome, to the extent that they require hospitalisation."

It's sparking calls for the vaccine rollout to better target Māori and Pacific people. 

"This study should provoke some reflection from the Government on how to improve the vaccination programme," says McKree-Jansen.

Of all the COVID-19 vaccines delivered so far- 68 percent have gone to Pakeha and 15 percent to Māori and Pacific people.

It's a number the Government wants to increase.

"We do want to get our vaccination rates of Māori up, we do know they are under-represented in the numbers so far," says Minister for the COVID-19 response Chris Hipkins. 

Those rates are especially important as a new study on public sentiment towards COVID finds Māori and Pasifika less likely to comply with some COVID measures.

Kuia Natalie Wilson says the jargon is unhelpful.

"If you come in with this European jargon they're not going to listen," she told Newshub. 

Overall, people are largely willing to comply - and are happy with New Zealand's response to the pandemic.

Though, more than half worry about opening our borders to other countries, with people on the streets telling Newshub vaccinations "need to get finished".

Those vaccines are critical for Māori and Pacific people, who'd be most at risk if COVID-19 was brought back into the country.