Don't compare Covid to flu
Comparing seasonal influenza (flu) mortality to the mortality rate of coronavirus (Covid-19) is a threat to public health and demonstrates the lack of understanding about the evidence.
The NZ Public Party's attempt to draw comparisons between the two infections is an attempt to minimise the effects of the unfolding pandemic.
In the United States in the last full flu season there were an estimated 36 million who caught the seasonal flu, with 35,000 deaths (a rate of 0.1 per cent).
Comparing this full year to eight months of the Covid pandemic is not straightforward as there has been a lot of mitigation (lockdowns and mask wearing) which means that still only a small proportion of the USA population has caught the virus. Still there has been 6.5 million infections and 200,000 deaths (a rate of 3 per cent).
It is estimated that 65 per cent of a population is needed to be exposed to Covid-19 for herd immunity to be established which would mean for New Zealand as many as 3 million exposed and 90,000 dead.
The advert quotes Swiss Policy Research which sounds impressive but Wikipedia has the following entry about Swiss Policy Research.
Swiss Policy Research (SPR) (before May 2020 Swiss Propaganda Research) is a website launched in 2016, which describes itself as "an independent nonprofit research group investigating geopolitical propaganda in Swiss and international media". The editors of the site are unknown, but they claim that "SPR is composed of independent academics and receives no external funding". The site has been widely criticised for spreading conspiracy theories, especially during the times of the Covid-19 pandemic when it has become a source of misinformation and disinformation internationally.
Mathematics and statistics educator and author
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Libraries a good use of funds
An American library scholar once said "Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities." Professor Lankes wouldn't have known about Whanganui's terrific "experimental" community libraries in Hakeke and Rangiora Sts, but he certainly knew what he was talking about.
Thankfully, most of our elected councillors agreed and on Tuesday (September 15) voted to provide funding to keep the doors open at both these volunteer-run centres. But not councillor Hadleigh Reid, who took a hard line against providing any money and warned about encouraging "public spending creep", although this was the first operational funding they had received.
To put it in a historical context, it's 33 years since Margaret Thatcher told a women's magazine that "there is no such thing as society", 177 years since Dickens introduced Ebenezer Scrooge to his readers, and the vote was taken just one day after councillor Reid had shown National Party leader Judith Collins his Castlecliff dental empire.
It was also not long since I'd seen happy kids selecting piles of books from the colourful and inviting Hakeke and Rangiora libraries, with their cheerful volunteers, and found myself thinking that I couldn't imagine a better use for a miniscule portion of ratepayers' cash.