With the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant in unvaccinated individuals much of what we thought we knew about the pandemic has changed.
Bob Wachter, UCSF’s Chair of Medicine, summarized these rapid changes recently in an excellent tweetorial:
Wachter references another tweetorial (written by epidemiologist @EpiEllie) which estimates the Delta variant is 2.5 times more infectious than the original virus:
With a virus that’s 2.5 times more infectious, levels of immunity that would have tamped down the spread of the old virus are no longer adequate to do so with Delta
One topic I’ve been pondering since I’m “old” and was vaccinated 8 months ago is a booster shot.
Wachter identifies 4 groups that will need boosters:
Speaking of being unprotected, the next battleground will be over boosters. So much of Covid has pitted individual rights/choices vs. community need. There now seems little doubt that 4 groups will need boosters to deal w/ waning or inadequate immunity from vaccines. a) Immunocompromised; b) Elders (?age); c) vax w/ J&J; & d) vaxxed >6 mths ago. My read of evidence: it would be reasonable to offer boosters to all 4 groups today – if the only issue was risks vs benefits to them as individuals
After discussing vaccine availability and issues related to tracking vaccination he concludes that those groups should be getting boosters ASAP
solution: approve boosters for those 4 groups ASAP as long as vax surplus holds (evidence seems persuasive that benefits outweigh risks), as several European countries have done. My guess is that FDA/CDC are also hesitating on boosters because they fear that green-lighting them will send a message to some vax-hesitant folks that vaccines don’t work. I get that, but these kind of Covid mind games (other: call breakthrough infections “rare” so as not to discourage vax) don’t work & serve to undermine credibility.
Those of you who are unvaccinated, for your own health and the health of those around you please get vaccinated ASAP!
It’s obvious what an unvaccinated person should do: get vaccinated ASAP, and stay super-safe until fully vaxxed (remember, shot #1 doesn’t protect against Delta the way it used to). Particularly in a high case prevalence region, your chance of catching the virus has. never been higher, and – while treatments have improved – there’s still a decent chance of a stormy course, including Long Covid, hospitalization, and (depending on your risk factors) death. I’d be afraid. Yes, I’d be very afraid
Finally, Wachter details how the changes have changed his behaviour.
as a 63-year-old guy vaxxed w/ Pfizer in Dec-Jan, no booster yet, & living in still- fairly-low prevalence SF, what am I doing? I haven’t cancelled flights, though I will if trip’s elective. When I fly, I’m wearing N95 for the whole flight. In indoor spaces (stores, work)
I’m double masking (cloth/surgical). No more indoor dining, & sadly no more poker w/ vaxxed pals. I’ll peel off protections as cases fall, particularly after my booster.
You’ll make your own choices, but don’t underestimate Delta. As the CDC said, it’s a new war.