By Kelly Sargent
All of us want life to go back to pre-pandemic normal. You remember what that was like . . . when we didn’t have to wear masks everywhere we went or be afraid of going out to eat or to concerts and movies or any other indoor social gathering.
Just when this back-to-the-future looked reassuring and promising, along comes the delta variant of COVID-19 — and it’s a doozy. The United States Center for Disease Control recently described it as “hypertransmissable,” and now accounts for more than half of the Covid-19 cases in many areas of the US.
Immunologist and former executive director of medical affairs for vaccines at Merck, John Grabenstein, said that because the delta variant is more contagious, it’s more likely to find the people who are not vaccinated. The White House announced that as of the end of June, nearly everyone who died from COVID in the United States was unvaccinated. And just today, July 8, the medical website Medscape reported that 99.5% of those killed by COVID-19 in the last six months had not been vaccinated.
At a July 7 press conference, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, disclosed that all of the 130 people who died of Covid-19 in his state last month were unvaccinated. Unvaccinated people made up 95% of new Covid-19 cases there and 93% of new Covid-19 hospitalizations. Infectious disease experts say that the connection between vaccination status and Covid-19 is not specific to Maryland; their stats are not an anomaly.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, said that there’s “no question that almost all of the deaths and hospitalizations will be in unvaccinated individuals, and therefore we should expect (that) most of severe illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths will occur predominantly in areas of low vaccination and high Delta.”
The flip side to that is obvious; being vaccinated is highly effective. The Associated Press analyzed government data from the month of May and found that COVID infections in fully-vaccinated people accounted for less than 1200 of more than 107,000 COVID hospitalizations. That’s about 1.1%. And only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths that month were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to less than 1%.
On July 6 CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the vaccine is so effective that “nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19 is, at this point, entirely preventable.”
This resonates personally for me. One of my friends has a granddaughter, Amber, who lives in Texas. Young, healthy and ambitious, Amber's husband was in the process of starting his own company. Together they sank every bit of their money into it, but Marc was a hard worker, and they were optimistic about their chances. Neither one, however, had bothered to get vaccinated.
In May Marc came done with COVID-19 and first was hospitalized and then had to be intubated. He died ten days later. Now Amber has to sell their home, find somewhere else to raise the two small children Marc left behind and get a job to support herself and them.
As of now, 606,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. So get the jab, as my British friends refer to it. It could save your life.
July 9 Update:
Today, Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, reported "exponential" growth in COVID-19 cases as the delta variant takes over. The case rate doubled over the last week, and 99.96% of all new infections are in unvaccinated individuals, according to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
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