“Pay me now or pay me later, but pay me you will” was a famous 1970 Fram oil filter slogan. I believe that the same applies to our pandemic. But, unfortunately, hiding from the virus now and the virus will find you later is what we see in many places.
Vaccine Protection Declining
https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2117128#:~:text=For%20the%20Ad26.-,COV2.,to%2061.5)%20at%205%20months. It has been known for many months that the effectiveness of the pandemic vaccines declines over time. Six months after the second shot, the vaccine’s effectiveness is close to 50% of its original protection.
Many people believed the vaccines would work. When breakthrough cases, hospitalizations, and deaths increased, boosters were made available. Yet, many chose not to get boosted. https://www.vox.com/coronavirus-covid19/2022/2/24/22947388/covid-19-vaccine-booster-shots-hesitancy. Why?
When polled, the two primary reasons were convenience and belief it would work. If the vaccines do not work, why bother with the booster shot.
https://www.who.int/news/item/22-02-2022-statement-on-omicron-sublineage-ba.2. The current plaque of new cases worldwide appears to be one of the two primary Omicron variants – the BA 2. The World Health Organization stated that the BA 2 variant is slightly different in genetic sequence but not enough to classify it as a new variant.
Transmissibility of the Omicron BA 2 is slightly less than the BA 1. Yet, countries that survived the earlier variants by extremely rigid restrictions are seeing astronomically high case rates. On the other hand, death rates are meager.
Locking Down (Again)
https://www.newsmax.com/world/globaltalk/virus-outbreak-china/2022/04/03/id/1064060/. Shanghai, the largest city in China with over twenty-six million, is locked down again. Yesterday, health officials reported nearly 440 new cases. In twenty-four hours, testing revealed over 7,500 asymptomatic cases of the BA 2 variant.
Shanghai began another lockdown last week – a two-stage process that returned to the early pandemic regulations. The city endured over two months of a rigidly enforced complete shutdown early in the pandemic. As a result, the citizens are not as compliant as a year ago.
Other Countries and BA 2
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/. The country reporting the highest new case rate is South Korea, with over 250,000 per day. Even at that level, just over 300 per day are dying from the virus. France, Germany, Italy, Vietnam, Australia, and Japan are seeing high new case rates – in some cases, the highest since the pandemic started.
Deaths from the pandemic virus are highest in Russia, South Korea, Germany, the United States, Italy, and Brazil. The death rates are extremely low for the percent of new infections. Most countries have a 99% or higher survival rate from COVID-19.
Zero-COVID Strategy Failing?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-COVID#:~:text=A%20zero%2DCOVID%20strategy%20consists,contain%20new%20outbreaks%20before%20they. According to Wikipedia, Zero-COVID Strategy (also known as COVID Zero) is a public health policy to finding, testing, tracing, isolating, and supporting to maximize suppression of the virus.
Several countries in the western Pacific adopted this policy and kept coronavirus from spreading. New cases and deaths were rarely above the low double digits. Some countries were able to record zero (or very low single digits) new cases for an extended period, such as New Zealand.
For over a year, New Zealand was a shining example of how to shut down the spread of the pandemic virus. In less than a month, new cases shot up to over 20,000/day (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/new-zealand/). The death rate in New Zealand, which had been almost zero, has climbed to the low double digits.
Infections & Restrictions
https://www.bbc.com/news/59882774. Shutting businesses down, restricting travel into and out of the country, quarantines, and other measures are not working, especially with the latest variant of Omicron. Let one person into the country with the virus, and new caseloads explode.
It is hard to put the genie back in the bottle once it has escaped. Public support for such restrictive measures is also waning. Mass testing is ongoing along with make-shift hospitals and quarantine centers. China claims that it controlled the initial pandemic, and for almost two years, that have been near zero new cases until recently.
China’s travel restrictions are strictly controlled and monitored. Screening is done immediately, and mandatory two-week quarantines are required for new visitors. In addition, regular testing is done by neighborhoods, and those testing positive are evicted, quarantined, and possibly new lockdowns instituted in those areas.
All non-essential businesses have been shut down. Public transportation is suspended, along with most vehicular traffic is banned. Schools have been closed. Self-test kits are available across the country. Those testing positive with the self-test kits must have a PCR test for confirmation.
Were the Alpha, Beta, and Delta variants easier to contain? Probably not. However, when you can control who goes where and when the spread of disease is limited. Widespread testing also facilitates knowing that the control measures are working. Quarantines were established initially to take the load off healthcare facilities.
With a 99% survival rate, healthcare treatment is a numbers game. If one thousand people become infected today, less than one hundred will need hospital care, and ten may die from the virus. When the daily numbers approach 250,000/day, healthcare facilities may not be able to care for those in need.
The data I researched surprised me the most was the ratio of asymptomatic new cases to those with symptoms. A ratio of nearly 18:1 is being recorded in Shanghai for the BA 2 variant. Eighteen people are infected with no symptoms for one who has the virus with symptoms. That is a staggering number. No wonder so many people are getting infected and infecting others.
Couple a very high transmission rate for COVID-19 (the Omicron variant) with populations that have been held in check (even with vaccinations), the wildfire of new cases is bound to erupt as the restrictions fail to protect against infection.
Pay me now or pay me later, but pay me you will apply to our pandemic. Protect people with the harshest restrictions, and the bug will bite you in the end when you are not prepared for it. Are we scared of a 99% survivability rate for this virus? Or are we unwilling to protect those genuinely vulnerable and allow the rest of the citizens to take that 99:1 risk?
The risk is much lower for those under 50 years of age. Seasonal influenza kills tens of thousands of people in a bad flu season and is currently the number nine cause of death in the United States. Would the numbers be similar for the pandemic virus if the most vulnerable were well protected?
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com