More reminders that the pandemic is not over.
As the global death toll continues to rise, so do concerns over the health variant of Covid-19.
However, the NY Post continues an odd, ongoing desire by right-leaning media to downplay the whole thing in an editorial entitled Don’t buy the hysteria: The Delta variant is actually less dangerous.
Now, the piece itself points out that yes, the delta variant is more contagious and it encourages vaccination. Indeed, it states “The only rational response is to work harder to get the holdouts jabbed.”
But if the goal is to get those folks jabbed, headlines that talk about “hysteria” over the data variant are the wrong way to go.
Indeed, the reason they say that this variant is “less dangerous” is not about the virus, but about vaccinations:
The seven-day average of new UK cases is above 25,000, the highest since late January, when the weekly average had just dropped from a peak of 50,000. But only 2,000 COVID cases are hospitalized, vs. nearly 40,000 in January. Daily deaths average under 20, vs. more than 1,000 in January.
Similarly: Israel, despite a spike in Delta cases, is seeing deaths in the single digits over the last month.
But, of course, the UK and Israel are two of the most vaccinated countries in the world.
Indeed, as the piece notes, the problem in the US is lack of vaccinations:
US cases are rising mainly in areas lax with the vax. States with below-average jab rates have triple the number of new cases compared with above-average states. Arkansas has five times the national average of new cases — because not even 35 percent of its residents are fully vaccinated, vs. nearly 60 percent nationwide.
And while Delta caused a 10 percent rise in daily US cases late last month, COVID hospital admissions actually dropped.
But the issue is not lack of danger, it is lack of vaccinations. We are almost certainly going to see variable hospitalization and death rates based on what regions are vaccinated and which are not.
The bottom line is: the headline should not be suggesting that the delta variant is less dangerous but, rather, it should be suggesting as boldly as possible that vaccinations combat the virus, including the delta variant. This is especially true in a world wherein many people just read headlines.
A peer-reviewed report from scientists in France, published Thursday in the journal Nature, found that the delta variant has mutations that allow it to evade some of the neutralizing antibodies produced by vaccines or by a natural infection. A single shot of a two-dose vaccine “barely” offers any protection, researchers reported.
But the experiments found that fully vaccinated people — with the recommended regimen of two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine — should retain significant protection against the delta variant. That echoes another report written by a collaboration of scientists in the United States and published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
It is worth noting that the issue is not that the delta variant is worse, in terms of illness, but that it is more contagious:
“There’s no good evidence that this variant causes more serious disease,” Offit said. But he expressed concerns that the large number of people who are unvaccinated — including, because they are not yet eligible, children under 12 — could fuel a winter wave of infections.
“It’s a winter virus. I think it’s going to surge this winter,” he said. “We have a lot of people in America who are not vaccinated, and they are going to be fertile ground for this virus.”
On that topic, NPR reports: The Delta Variant Isn’t Just Hyper-Contagious. It Also Grows More Rapidly Inside You.
After months of data collection, scientists agree: The delta variant is the most contagious version of the coronavirus worldwide. It spreads about 225% faster than the original version of the virus, and it’s currently dominating the outbreak in the United States.
A new study, published online Wednesday, sheds light on why. It finds that the variant grows more rapidly inside people’s respiratory tracts and to much higher levels, researchers at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
On average, people infected with the delta variant had about 1,000 times more copies of the virus in their respiratory tracts than those infected with the original strain of the coronavirus, the study reported.
So, you know, get the shot.
It is reasonable to be concerned that we in the US will see a surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as we head into the fall given the lack of vaccinations in large parts of the country, including my own.
From a purely anecdotal level in the last week, a family member (vaccinated, thankfully) was exposed to an infected co-worker (of which there ended up being at least four cases at their place of employment) and two of my co-workers shared stories of either family or friends who have contracted the virus (folks who had been anti-vax). This is after going about two months without hearing any personal stories of infections.
FWIW, I sincerely doubt we will find ourselves in lockdown again. I could see a circumstance wherein masks in public might be a good idea again, but if anyone is worried about the virus being over-hyped they need to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated.