Let me state up front: Covid vaccination and booster shots are the way we get out of this mess.
At the same time, a terrible reality has arrived in our offices. The majority of our local Covid cases seem to be in vaccinated people who are compulsive about wearing masks and distancing themselves from others. They also are getting more severe cases of Covid. The sickest ones are people who would qualify for a third shot, but we didn’t have those available until last week.
On the other hand, our non-vaccinated cases are relatively young and they are very, very sick. Meanwhile, pediatric cases seem to be getting more severe.
The other frustrating thing is testing is still unreliable. Some of our severe cases, vaccinated or unvaccinated, are testing negative in the first week of the illness. Breakthrough cases, meaning vaccinated people who get Covid, seem to test negative all too frequently.
Let’s talk about breakthrough Covid. If they test negative, how do you know they have Covid? Usually, it is the presentation. One or two unvaccinated people in the household have Covid, documented by testing. Everyone in the house, vaccinated or unvaccinated, suddenly gets sick. Some test negative. Some test positive. The negatives seem to be clearly false-negatives. By nature of their occupations, they may get tested repeatedly when they are sick and eventually may turn positive. What does that mean? Are they less contagious because they are vaccinated, shedding minimal virus which makes it hard to test?
How accurate are Covid tests in vaccinated and unvaccinated patients? Why can’t we get more accurate data? Why are we relying on Israeli data on the waning effect of Pfizer immunity? How sick are people getting as more time elapses from the second shot? It feels like pediatric Covid patients are getting sicker. Is that true? What is the prognosis in Pediatric cases right now, based on numbers from last month? That should be relatively easy to obtain on a timely basis. The timing is important because we believe Delta is more virulent (though we don’t really know that).
When I turn on the cable news, it sounds terrifying. When I talk to the staff at Covid Units, I hear frightful news. Anecdotally, it “feels” like Covid cases are more severe even among vaccinated people. It also “feels” like there is a lot of Covid out there, even though our state is relatively better off than other states. What is the truth? We need basic surveillance data! “Feeling” like something is true is not good enough!
How contagious is a sick vaccinated patient? This is a huge question. If the answer is “just as contagious as a non-vaccinated patient,” then the implications are huge. It means my vaccine protects me but it does not protect you from me! If you are not vaccinated, I can kill or maim you with a simple unexpected cough in your direction. It means I need to quarantine, which is a big deal when you have to work for a living.
You can make the argument that this pandemic has hit us harder than many wars, both in casualty counts and economic pain. I place most kids on the casualty list because the loss of in-school attendance will cause pain for decades to come.
We need to treat this like a war. We need to be doing real monitoring. We need information which is not useless and out of date. We need DATA in close to real time!
Next month, I fully plan to attend the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival in Las Vegas to see the greatest music group of all time: DEVO. It will be outside. No, I am not wearing a mask. I am vaccinated. I am also over 60 and my 8-month vaccine mark will be coming up. Should I get a booster before the event? Probably so…
Am I being stupid? Stupid question.
Being stupid is a prerequisite for being a DEVO fan