This week it looks like the Omicron wave has peaked in the US. This is led by a leveling off of cases in California in Texas and drops in the NY metro and Florida. There are still some areas of the US that have not yet peaked, but they just represent a smaller percentage of the total population.
At the beginning of the year, I predicted the first few weeks of January would see massive spread and widespread disruptions. I believe we are now past the worst of it.
There are now estimates that over 40% of the entire US population will have contracted Omicron between mid-December and mid-February, a staggering figure. At this point, R has to go down because there aren't more people to infect.
The US has only had about 62% of people who have received two doses, and only about 25% have had a booster shot. We continue to see research showing that two vaccines plus a booster are yielding significant benefits at all stages of the disease:
- This week, research was published on the impact of vaccines and long Covid. This research again shows that having two doses reduces the occurrence of long Covid dramatically.
- Israel looked into delivering a 4th shot to people who are 65+ because of concerns on waning immunity. Their work showed that the third shoot effectively prevented hospitalization and severe effects. Hence, they decided not to administer a fourth.
- Omicron infection provides protection against Delta for those who are vaccinated but less so for those who are not.
- In kids, a single dose of a vaccine reduces MIS-C by 90%. No cases have been reported in kids with two doses.
Fauci this week stated that he hopes that the FDA will approve one of the vaccines for kids next month [February]. Later, he walked it back and said that he was not directly involved in the approval process and just stated his opinion/hopes. I don't hold hope for quick approval, vaccines for kids are complex, and the FDA has shown no urgency in approval.
Over the coming weeks, I believe things will go back to normal for most people. Those who are immune-compromised or with unvaccinated children will be impacted for longer.
The wastewater data case counts are dropping faster than I would have guessed in Boston and NY. I expect to see similar drops in California, where it seems this wave is cresting.
I believe that cases will drop enough that I'll feel comfortable in bars and restaurants again in a week or two. I'm making travel plans in February.
As we look toward the future, it's essential to understand what Covid is becoming endemic means. There will be more variants, but as long as our baseline immunity against hospitalization stays firm, then we should be fine. The question of what else will people be working on, I think Eric Topol put it best:
"That is why it's so essential to push on the pan-coronavirus vaccine, oral and nasal vaccines that build mucous immunity and help block transmission and get mass production of Paxlovid along with other safe and effective anti-Covid pills that are very likely variant-proof, not relying on our immune system."
If the drop in cases continues, I suspect I'll stop writing in a few weeks.
As always, if things change, I'll get back to writing, but just looking at the data this morning, I think this wave will pass, and we'll be in a stable place.