On the one hand the media is reporting the number of cases of COVID-19 is receding in the United States. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Delta variant wave of the pandemic has passed its peak. On the other hand, it states that that the approaching winter season and holidays present another opportunity for cases to increase.
I read a report on October 28 that “Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie see virus deaths.” It pointed out that the unvaccinated were more likely to require hospitalization and spread the infection. In the prior week there had been 5 deaths across the three counties. There were several hundred active cases. Of course, this cannot begin to find those people who have active COVID but were minimally or not at all symptomatic but can still spread the disease. Statewide the day before there were 35 deaths and 4,284 new cases. Granted, compared to what we experienced before, this is a major improvement but I think our perspectives are warped by how horrific things had been previously, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, in the United States. Nevertheless, it is 35 mostly unnecessary deaths and 4,200 people who are at risk of developing Long COVID symptoms.
It’s been reported that the Delta wave of COVID-19 has passed its peak but the average number of cases per day is 72,000. This equals 500,000/week.
This is down about 50% from the peak in August but we are still talking about 9,000 deaths per week.
Some experts think we may be at a turning point. Others remind us that we have seen this scenario before and that the numbers can come back again. Some places are seeing surges of hospitalizations while others are abating quickly. This seems closely aligned with the percentage vaccinated.
I read an article that described a study where a large number of school children were tested for antibodies and about 40% were positive even though almost none reported previously known disease. The only reasonable conclusion was that those children had all been infected before.
Another piece of interesting news is that the vaccines give better immunity than having experienced the disease. In an article published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review, MMWR, published by the CDC, a multicenter study found that vaccines were more effective in preventing serious illness than having previously experienced the disease. In fact, the odds were calculated as being 5.5 times higher in patients that had been exposed and not vaccinated than those who had been vaccinated with vaccines approved in the United States. The take away recommendation is that “all eligible persons should be vaccinated as soon as possible, including unvaccinated persons previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.”
My thoughts on what an individual should do are evolving. I still believe, if not even more so now, that everyone should be vaccinated. Having had COVID is not enough of a stimulus to give the most protective long-term immune response. I still believe in social distancing and wearing masks, though they are apparently not as necessary outdoors. I avoid eating in crowded restaurants though I have returned to eating at restaurants that space their tables. I am fully vaccinated and have had a booster recently.
Unfortunately, even now this is not a disease where we are morally free to completely make our own decisions. If we get infected, a number of people around us are at risk of getting infected and one of those people may not be able to mount a response to the disease.