COVID-19 7/26/2021

July 29, 2021

As I’m sure everyone knows, We are in the early stages of an uptick in cases, hospitalizations, etc.   Mask mandates are being reinstituted in many “hot spots” and continue to be resisted.

The “Delta variant” has displaced earlier variants, and appears to be more contagious, owing to it replicating at a much more vigorous rate (1000 fold!) and therefore spreading much more virus.  It is not clear at this time that the Delta variant causes more severe illness.

It was always clear that the currently available vaccines would not prevent infection (and therefore would not prevent replication and spread of the virus).  Serious disease and death declined drastically in countries where immunization was widespread (particularly in Israel and the United States).  This was predicted by the initial studies of the vaccine which gained them Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.

But with the emergence of the Delta virus and its spread internationally, disease levels have increased.  At this time, according to the most recent figures that have been reported, 97% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are carrying the Delta variant, and very few of those patients were previously immunized.

While the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson  & Johnson vaccines are still effective against severe illness from the Delta variant (more so the Pfizer and Moderna products) there are “breakthrough” infections in the vaccinated population.  Please see https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/07/28/1021888033/breakthrough-infections-may-cause-long-covid-symptoms-small-study-suggests  for a discussion.

From a practical point of view we don’t need to go into lockdown but please maintain caution.  Wear masks when out in public.  It is too early to go into crowds, even masked, especially if there are large numbers of unmasked individuals.