This week we hit a huge milestone; we have fewer Covid cases in the US than ever. Better still, the case count continues to fall.
I’m particularly optimistic we won’t rise again because most of America is mostly or entirely open. 99.7% of hospitalized Covid patients in the US are unvaccinated. ~60% of adults have had their first shot, and it looks like we’re on track to hit Biden’s goal of 70% of adults by July 4th. In the last month in SF, we’ve had only 4 people die of Covid. Covid is ending, and we should act like it.
Along those lines, the CDC announced this week that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors or indoors in most cases. That said, not everyone will stop using masks. Immune compromised people and those with kids of an age that can’t be vaccinated will reasonably continue to mask up. It’s also just been a hell of a year; let’s all have some compassion for people who need to ease back into things.
This week brought a few notable instances of breakthrough infections. In separate incidents, several members of the Yankees and Bill Maher contracted Covid. In all cases, they were fully vaccinated, but this is actually good news. None of them were symptomatic, and it was only detected via employer-mandated weekly PCR testing. The vaccines are doing their job.
The Singapore airport also reported that several of its’ fully vaccinated employees caught the 1617 variant. Again none of these cases were severe and mainly were detected via routine PCR testing.
However, this does highlight how important getting the rest of the world vaccinated is. Countries like Taiwan and Australia are more vulnerable than ever since there are much more virulent strains available. If their containment fails, it will be much worse.
Novavax announced that they don’t expect to apply for their EUA till early July due to widespread supply chain issues. Obviously, this is a huge disappointment; even though the US won’t need it, Novavax was projected to make a billion doses this year.
As a reminder, they have a two-shot protein subunit vaccine. Their vaccine is fridge stable, so it’s easier logistically than either of the mRNA ways. It is also as effective as the mRNA vaccines, and it would a vital tool for developing countries. I’m rooting for them, and I hope the US gov can help fix their supply chain issues.
Data from the UK this week shows that 1617.2 is spreading, but not among highly vaccinated groups which implies that the current vaccines are effective against it. The data also suggests that 1617.2 is highly contagious, so it poses a real threat for those countries with low vaccination rates.
As expected, the FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15-year-olds this week. Shots are already going out because we have some excess capacity.
There have been some questions about if the US is hoarding vaccines, and analysis this week showed that isn’t really true. Right now, the US has about a two-week buffer in our supply, which given that we’ve already seen several supply chain issues, seems reasonable. They are also distributed across tens of thousands of sites; it’s not like there is a warehouse somewhere with a million extra doses.
Pfizer is also already sending shots abroad, and it seems like Moderna will soon as well. I expect in the next month, or so we’ll be sending a large number of shots abroad.
We are starting to hit the portion of the population where hesitancy is more of a concern. I’m pleased to see the government is getting creative to help convince people.
Ohio is going to conduct a $1 million lottery for people who have been vaccinated. In New York, you can get a dose in the subway. Some MLB teams are offering free tickets to those who come to get their shot on site. Now is not the time to give up; we’ve got to push hard through the end to get as many people vaccinated as fast as possible.
This week a study of nearly 4,000 pregnant women came out who had received the Covid shot. It showed no increase in the risk of pregnancy-specific adverse events.
A long covid study showed that 15% of men who had covid showed erectile dysfunction due to Covid. So even if you’re young and healthy, go get your shots boys.
Initial monkey studies of a new nanoparticle vaccine showed effectiveness against most of the major types of Coronaviruses. This would be a massive breakthrough because many other Coronaviruses could cause future pandemics. Again, we’re just beginning to see the benefits of having the world work on vaccines for a year.
Two months ago, I predicted that Covid would be more or less over in America by mid-June, and I continue to believe that. The current seven-day average is ~10 cases per 100,000 people per day. A month from now, it’ll be less than half of that.
Bars and offices are starting to open. I went on my first plane flight last weekend, and I’m going to Vegas in a few weeks. That said, everyone is going to emerge on their own timeline and comfort levels.
As always, I’m happy to chat if you have questions or concerns.