Update 10-01-2021: Cases have been slowly decreasing the last two weeks. Hospitalizations and deaths are very high but are starting to plateau. We had a 10.8% decrease last week with a 7.2% decrease the week before. I think that this trend will continue with cases slowly decreasing in the coming weeks. I expect this wave’s decrease to be much slower than its increase because of the contagiousness of the Delta variant.
Cases are continuing to rise in Cuyahoga County. We’ve had a 22% increase over last week with a weekly case number of 2996. At this rate, we will be over 1/2 of the peak cases that we had last December. Across Ohio, numbers are increasing more rapidly, with cases 3 times what they were a year ago. Many hospitals, especially in rural areas, are stretched to capacity with 95-98% of the Covid hospitalizations being among the unvaccinated.
Across the country, deaths have increased 40% over the last two weeks.
On Friday, an FDA advisory panel endorsed booster shots for people that are immunocompromised and for those over the age of 65 for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. This is a rejection of the plan put forth by the Biden administration to offer booster shots for everyone 8 months after their second shot. The FDA plans to make its official recommendation in the coming weeks. I think that this was a good recommendation based on the current science on the Delta variant. Vaccines continue to provide significant protection against the Delta variant for most people.
It is estimated that if you have been fully vaccinated, you are 5x less likely to contract Covid. Currently, the United States is seeing 150,000 new Covid-19 infections each day, which would mean that about 30,000 of those infections are breakthrough ones. However, according to a recent CDC study, the vaccines are still 86% effective against hospitalization. Other studies show that the risk of hospitalization is 30 times less likely in the vaccinated. The vast majority of these breakthrough infections are asymptomatic to mild infections. In fact, there is a new symptom that people should watch for: Sneezing (or allergy symptoms).
Sneezing is the third most common symptom of a breakthrough infection behind headaches and runny noses. If you have any of these symptoms, it is now recommended that you get tested. Home kits, as well as traditional tests, are readily available.
Recently, the Biden administration announced a vaccine mandate requiring all federal workers, as well as organizations with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated. Notably absent in these requirements is an exclusion for those who have recovered from Covid. This is unscientific and bad policy. In my original article on vaccine safety from last December, I stated that if I had antibodies to Covid from an asymptomatic infection, I would probably not get vaccinated. My rationale at the time was that having antibodies and immunity was more important than how you got it. Immunity from being infected would be at least as effective as immunity from being vaccinated.
This June, I posted research that supported this idea. Since then, even more research has come out that proves that natural immunity is as good as, if not better than vaccination. I don’t know how the idea that vaccines provided more immunity than the actual illness became mainstream, there were smart people at the time arguing for people that had Covid to wait to be vaccinated. Policymakers didn’t listen to them, and as a result, thousands of people needlessly died. Now we are once again putting politics ahead of science.
Finally, I have a hard time reconciling vaccine mandates with my belief that individual health choices are a human right. I truly believe that education and correct messaging about the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines are more effective than this coercive policy and confusing messaging regarding booster shots. Respecting people’s choices with compassion will also serve us all better in the long term.
A printable version of this article with references is here.