Coronavirus: Virologist encourages more Māori to get vaccine given higher likelihood of death compared to Pākehā

  • 24/08/2021

By D'Angelo Martin for The Hui

The push is on to get as many Māori vaccinated against COVID-19 since they are more than twice as likely to die from it than Pākehā. 

Dr Natalie Netzler, a Māori virologist at the University of Auckland, says the Delta variant can have much more of an impact than the original strain of the virus.

"With Delta, we are seeing that one sick person with COVID-19 can infect on average around seven people, so it's much more contagious. With more cases, we get more deaths," she tells The Hui.

Dr Netzler says multiple factors put Māori at a higher risk.

"We are more likely to be exposed as we make up a large proportion of frontline health and border workers," she explains.

"We also tend to look after our kaumātua, so live in multigenerational housing and this can help spread the virus more easily and Māori unfortunately have a higher proportion of underlying health issues."

Māori vaccination rates are less than 60 percent of Pākehā vaccination rates, and Dr Netzler encourages Māori to be more proactive about getting the jab. 

"We have at least a 50 percent more chance of dying from COVID-19 than other ethnic groups in Aotearoa and we know that if we catch the virus, we are two-and-a-half times more likely to need hospitalisation."

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air.