NZ Pacific Covid-19 Webinar Series: the importance of data in the fight against Covid-19

A key member of the government’s Covid-19 response team, who formulated a mathematical model to predict the spread of the virus, will be one of the guest speakers in the second webinar of the NZ Pacific Covid-19 Webinar Series.

Professor Shaun Hendy and his team from the University of Auckland have been an integral part of New Zealand’s scientific response to the pandemic. Their models predicting the spread of the virus was used by the government and enabled a swift initial lockdown in March and informed the alert levels used in response to the outbreak in August, which mostly impacted the Pacific community.

“My job is to lead a team of 24 people across the country to build the models, to do the mathematics and run simulations on computers. We then communicate those simulations and turn them into something that people can understand.”

Although his work is mainly data focused, he says the information he collates is important, especially for the Pacific community as they are one of the most vulnerable groups during the pandemic.

“We know that the Pacific community is more at risk, because the households have many generations – from grandparents to young children.

We also calculate the infection fatality rate, meaning if you catch the disease how likely are you to die from it. The Pacific and Māori communities are at much more risk because of unmet health needs.”

The webinars are co-hosted by the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA), the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine and the University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. 

PMA president, Dr Kiki Maoate, ONZM, FRACS and PMA senior member Dr Colin Tukuitonga, DSM, MPH, FAFPHM, FRNZCGP will be facilitating the discussions.

Along with Professor Hendy, the other guest speakers include Sandra Kailahi from The Cause Collective, Dr. Siniva Sinclair from Counties Manukau District Health Board and Pauline Fuimaono Sanders, from Alliance Health. They will be share about testing, contact tracing and communications.

Hendy says his discussion will give people an insight into how the public risk from the virus is predicted, especially amongst the Pacific community.

“It will give people a better understanding of Covid-19,” he says.

The second Webinar in the series is tomorrow, Friday 13 November 2020 from 1pm – 3pm.

To join this event please see link here which includes zoom link details.

Follow the Facebook event here.

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Date: Thursday 12 November 2020