TPM reader JL guides us through data points …
1. The ferocity of the recrudescence, at least measured by the new cases, has largely puzzled me. Ashish Jha and Scott Gottlieb are my go-to sources and I don’t think they expected to see this kind of increase in cases.
2. That said, I think the other day you put your finger on a key issue, namely that it is really difficult to know how we should measure cases among those vaccinated. The line between mild / asymptomatic and antibodies did exactly what they were supposed to do, but there are enough Covid particles for a positive PCR test not only blurry but almost impossible to define.
3. But … to get depressed again … I am amazed at the number of extraordinary hospitalizations and deaths. Wasn’t that the idea that vaccines were 99.5% effective against hospitalizations? It looks more like 97% or so. That’s five times more extraordinary hospitalizations than expected. And the situation with the deaths seems similar. If we get up to 1,000 deaths per day, we could see 30 Covid deaths vaccinated per day.
4. One of the reasons I dwell on the above is that I fear the protective effects of vaccines are overselling a bit and I am not sure the country is prepared for that level of extraordinary deaths. Of course, vaccines are overwhelmingly compelling, but I’m afraid the case is overstated a bit.
5. It is more confusing than ever to figure out what action to take. I’m in Boston and I don’t plan on doing anything different. But in a few weeks when the cases per 100,000 significantly exceed 10? I’m not sure.
6. On the bright side, I have a feeling that these sudden increases take a couple of months to peak and then the cases start to decline rapidly. I was thinking about that even before it started to look like the UK is peaking on schedule with cases hinting at a sharp U-turn. Overall, I expect the hysteria about Delta to reach a fever pitch in a few weeks and then fade away pretty quickly as we move into late August.
7. Will the rise of the Delta in November / December / January be much worse than the current rise, or will marginal increases in vaccines coupled with a ton of infection-based immunity mean it’s not that bad? Who knows!