COVID-19: Where We Are

It is January 8, 2021.  This is where we are in the pandemic:

Case counts:  case counts and fatalities continue to rise.  Yesterday and the day before, we experienced 4,000 American deaths each day, the first time that has happened.  That translates into a fatality rate of 30,000 Americans per week.  

Our fatality total as of yesterday (as always, thanks to, was 374,000.  If we continue at this pace (30,000 deaths/week), we will reach 1 million U.S. fatalities in 21 weeks, or early June.  Given our increasing case counts, I am becoming more certain that we will suffer at least this loss of life, and probably much more after that.

Vaccination rate:  Dr. Anthony Fauci is predicting that our vaccination rate will increase soon to 1 million doses administered per day.  I have attached the link to an Associated Press article with his comments:

Certainly any increase in vaccination rates is a good thing.  The bad news is that if we are only able to vaccinate 1 million people a day, and two doses are required, only 500,000 people will reach the two-dose requirement every day.  At that rate, it will take us 400 days (February 2022 approximately) until 200 million people are fully vaccinated.

There has been discussion about the possibility of not administering two doses of the vaccine, and providing one dose to twice as many people.  The logic behind this is that one dose of either of the currently approved vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) appear to be about 80% effective in preventing the virus.  The two-dose regimen is 90-95% effective.

Compare the following choices:

  1. 100 million people receive two doses, with 95% protection
  2. 200 million people receive one dose, with 80% protection

From a public-health perspective, more good is provided of 200 million people have 80% protection, instead of 100 million people having 95% protection.  (From a Hal perspective, I want 95% protection, but as a healthcare provider, I want the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people). So we may be entering a period where the vaccination regimen is changed, at least temporarily, from two doses to one.

For my friends and family: stay safe.  That means the basics: wear a mask, social distance in all situations, wash hands frequently, and stay home if you can.  The next 12 weeks will be the deadliest 12 weeks of the pandemic so far.



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