Time to change course on Covid?

Sadly,  the answer is “yes.”  Having so many vaccinated people, especially elderly, is great.  We’re simply never going to be nearly as bad off as before vaccines.  But Delta sucks.  Delta is as bad as many mistakenly believed the original Covid was, in terms of transmissibility.  

Some good stuff from Leana Wen:

With coronavirus infections climbing throughout the country and the pandemic worsening once more, the Biden administration needs to strongly urge a return of covid-19 restrictions.

The United States is on a very different trajectory now than it was back in May, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks. Even then, when cases were trending downward, many of us in public health were alarmed that the CDC’s recommendations would herald the precipitous and premature end of indoor mask mandates.

We were right. The CDC’s honor system didn’t work. The unvaccinated took off their masks, too; not enough people were vaccinated to be a backstop against further surges; and infections began to soar.

Compared with two weeks ago, daily coronavirus infections in the United States have climbed 145 percent. The most contagious form of SARS-CoV-2 yet, the delta variant, accounts for the majority of new infections. Vaccinated people are still well-protected from becoming severely ill, but reports abound of breakthrough infections. Because the CDC has inexplicably stopped tracking mild infections among the vaccinated, however, we don’t know how frequently these occur. In addition, because those infected with the delta variant appear to have a viral load that’s 1,000 times higher than that of those infected with the original strains, it’s an open question as to whether vaccinated people who contract the variant can infect their unvaccinated close contacts.

It’s time for the CDC to issue new guidance that takes into account these emerging concerns. It can reiterate that vaccination is safe and effective by stating that the vaccinated are safe around others who are also fully vaccinated. In settings where everyone is known to have immunity, no additional restrictions are needed.

However, if vaccinated individuals are around those who remain unvaccinated, the unvaccinated could pose a risk to the vaccinated, particularly those who live at home with young children or immunocompromised family members. So the CDC needs to state, as it should have in May, that unless there is a way to distinguish between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, indoor mask requirements should be reinstated. Los Angeles County has issued such a mandate. The federal government should urge other jurisdictions to follow suit.

I also liked this in a Josh Marshall post:

In late Spring it seemed like COVID was basically about over. Critically, it seemed like the non-vaccinated might be able to hitch a ride on the rest of the country’s vaccinated immunity. Everyone could drop their masks and get back into restaurants and theaters and it would all be fine. Clearly that didn’t pan out. 

Exactly.  Prior to Delta, the unvaccinated could seemingly free ride on the vaccinated, but no more. 

Of course, what’s especially frustrating about this is the fact that not only are the unvaccinated not getting vaccinated, they are also dishonestly refusing to wear masks indoors where they should be.  Among other things, there’d simply be a lot less spread if they were.  If we actually lived in a world where unvaxxed  could be counted upon to wear masks (which are especially effective at blocking transmission from the source), it really wouldn’t make sense to call for the vaccinated to start wearing masks again.  Alas, we are not in that world, but one marked by far too much vaccine hesitancy and far too much dishonesty.  

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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