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The Continuation of the Pandemic Hinges on Three Unknowns

The Pandemic Hinges on Three Unknowns

We keep our blogs and post simple.  Just the facts.  We are concerned about the continued COVID pandemic. Will People continue to spread the Virus.  Last Saturday, I went out to eat with family at a restaurant.  One day later, I developed a cold.   I have been vaccinated against Covid (including boosters) and the Flu.  Since I work in an ISO level 3-4 clean room.  I am not able to work due to virus and bacterial contamination I could bring in.   For the people who did not wear masks and spread the cold virus, it is your fault.

This got me thinking.  The future of the current pandemic depends on three things.  I will list them in order.

1. How Much Immunity Do We Even Have?

The U.S. has fully vaccinated 59 percent of the country and recorded enough cases to account for 14 percent of the population thus far.  What percentage of Americans have immunity against the coronavirus—from vaccines or infection or both?  This is the key number that will determine the strength of our immunity wall this winter.   We are already seeing a surge of cases as more people move indoors.  Also we are seeing a surge of cold viruses.  Several countries in Western Europe, which are more highly vaccinated than the U.S., are already seeing spikes heading into winter. Cases in Germany and Austria, which has vaccinated nearly 70 percent of its population, have increased sharply, overwhelming hospitals and spurring renewed restrictions on the unvaccinated.

Conclusion #1 – Vaccine-induced immunity tends to be more consistent, but older people and immunocompromised people mount weaker responses.  Get vaccinated and if vaccinated last spring get a booster shot.   Wear your mask, social distance, wash your hands and avoid crowds

2. Will New Variants Emerge?

We have seen 1 1/2  (1.5) month mutation rates with this virus.  We are not even sure how many variants there are in the field as labs are over loaded and backlogged.  In 2020, a more transmissible Alpha variant came along.  Then an even more transmissible Delta variant emerged. In a year, the virus more than doubled its contagiousness. The evolution of this coronavirus may now be slowing, don’t bet your life on!   A new variant could change the pandemic trajectory again this winter, but it’s not likely to reset the pandemic clock back to March 2020. We might end up with a variant that causes more breakthrough infections or reinfections, but our immune systems won’t be totally fooled if you are vaccinated.

Conclusion #2 – Don’t bet your life – The virus has a 60% chance of becoming more easily spreadable and more lethal this winter.  If you have risk factors of Diabetes and being over weight follow the CDC rules!

3. How Will People Spread the Virus?

We do. COVID-19 spreads when we spread it, and predicting what people will do has been one of the biggest challenges of modeling the pandemic.  The Delta wave in the Deep South over the summer, for example, ebbed in the late summer and early fall.  What happened? People became more careful with masking and social distancing as they saw cases rising around them. More people in the South did get vaccinated, though the rates still lag behind those in the highly vaccinated Northeast.  Surges can be self-limiting because people are modifying their behavior in response to recent surges.  By winter’s end, the U.S. will emerge with more immunity than it has now.  Two reasons either through infection or, much preferable, through vaccinating more people.  The virus still has long term effects on 36% who catch it.

Conclusion #3 – Remember This: The coronavirus doesn’t hop on planes, drive across state lines, or attend holiday parties.  It is spread by people. Be safe this is not over.

Stop COVID and Flu – Get vaccinated!