August 8, 2021

QUESTION ASKED: How much of a COVID risk was Obama’s birthday bash?

Two months ago, having a blowout bash with all of your immunized friends wouldn’t have been a problem. The hot vax summer was upon us courtesy of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Two months later, with hospitals in Delta hot spots filling up, we’re back in a nightmare of rampant transmission and rising death. Former Trump advisor Tom Bossert has been studying the numbers and spotted an alarming divergence between our Delta wave and the one in the UK. That country has a larger share of its population vaccinated than we do, but not wildly higher. And it’s possible that we have a similar degree of overall population immunity due to the number of people here who’ve had COVID and recovered.

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The grimmest piece on the pandemic that I’ve read this summer is this new interview with scientist Eric Topol titled “Too Many People Are Dying Right Now.” As Delta began to spread in the U.S., experts like Topol expected a surge in cases but a much gentler rise in hospitalizations and an even milder rise in deaths, all thanks to vaccination. Instead we’re seeing about the same ratio of cases to hospitalizations now as we saw during our pre-vaccination winter wave. How can that be when we know that the vaccines substantially reduce one’s risk of hospitalization? Topol isn’t sure but he’s worried:

I mean, one of the worst signals that I’ve seen is San Francisco. San Francisco is like Vermont, they’re even a little higher than Vermont for fully vaccinated — it’s 70 percent of the population of San Francisco county and it’s going through a very substantial hospitalization spike, unlike Vermont.

So I look at San Francisco as a bad bellwether for what might be coming. Why are they doing so poorly right now for hospitalization? Why is it so different than Vermont? If there’s that many people getting so sick, something’s just not right…

In San Diego, too, we’re having hospitalization increases, too — not as bad as San Francisco, but our vaccination rates are quite good for California. But they’re not preventing a surge of new patients in the hospital.

And the rate of rise — it’s scary. We’ve never had a rise like this for the country. And, okay, a lot of it is from Florida and Louisiana. But the rate of rise is just… scary. The fact that this ratio is being maintained, compared to a monster-wave, pre-dating vaccination…

Topol’s article appears on New York magazine’s Website. Note which event isn’t covered on the New York Website this weekend:

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