Thinking Citizen Blog — The Delta Variant: Origins, Characteristics, Consequences
Thinking Citizen Blog — Thursday is Health, Health Care, Health Insurance and Global Health Policy Day
Today’s Topic: The Delta Variant: Origins, Characteristics, Consequences
The Delta Variant is spreading. And children under 12 are not eligible for vaccination. While children are at relatively low risk, “more than 16,000 children in the U.S. have been hospitalized and more than 300 have died.” In the words of Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases,” If you told anybody before Covid that 300 to 600 children were dying of a preventable disease, they would all say that would be unacceptable.” Pfizer expects federal regulators to approve their vaccine for 5 to 12 year olds in September. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE KUMBH MELA MAY HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST SUPER SPREADER EVENT OF THIS PANDEMIC (Asish Sha, Dean of School of Public Health, Brown University).
1. The Hindu religious festival of Kumbh Mela is huge. In 2013 attendance was estimated at 30 million. In 2019, 50 million. In 2021, attendance was discouraged due to the pandemic but attendance may well have approached or exceeded 10 million in Hardiwar.
2. “In the small town of Gyaraspur in central India, 60 of the 83 people who went to the festival tested positive upon their return, said Abbas Zaidi, a doctor and local health official. Some of those who returned were reluctant to be tested, Zaidi said, including the head priest of a well-known local temple. Zaidi went with a team of police officers to test the priest, whose results came back positive for the virus.” (first link)
3. “In Ahmedabad, a city in the western state of Gujarat, many pilgrims returned from the festival on trains. In one batch of travelers, about 10 percent of those tested came back positive for coronavirus, said Bhavin Solanki, a municipal medical health officer.” (ditto)
NB: “In Uttarakhand, the state where the festival took place, infections spiked. At the start of April, when the Kumbh Mela began, the state was reporting 500 new cases a day. By the end of the month, that figure had soared to nearly 6,000. One in five of the doctors and paramedical staff deployed at the festival tested positive, said Arjun Senger, the event’s health officer. “ (ditto)
DELTA VARIANT IS SUPER CONTAGIOUS AND ACCOUNTS FOR 80% OF NEW CASES IN THE US
1. “Delta is spreading 50% faster than Alpha, which was 50% more contagious than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2.” (F. Perry Wilson, Yale epidemiologist)
2. “In a completely unmitigated environment — where no one is vaccinated or wearing masks — it’s estimated that the average person infected with the original coronavirus strain will infect 2.5 other people. In the same environment, Delta would spread from one person to maybe 3.5 or 4 other people.” (Wilson)
3. “Because of the math, it grows exponentially and more quickly. So, what seems like a fairly modest rate of infectivity can cause a virus to dominate very quickly — like we’re seeing now. Delta is outcompeting everything else and becoming the dominant strain.” (Wilson)
NB: The unvaccinated are clearly most at risk and these are disproportionately concentrated in the Southern and Appalachian regions of the US.
CALLS FOR MANDATORY VACCINATION AND MANDATORY MASK WEARING ARE MULTIPLYING
1. “California and New York City announced on Monday that they would require all government employees to get coronavirus vaccine or face weekly COVID-19 testing.” (Boston Globe)
2. “The Department of Veterans Affairs became the first major federal agency to require health care workers to receive the shot.” (ditto)
3. More and more hospital systems are mandating that their workers be vaccinated.
NB: Nationwide, while roughly 96% of physicians are vaccinated, less than 50% of nurses are.
For the last three years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the most interesting thing you learned in the last week related to health, health care or health care policy — the ethics, economics, politics, history…. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to health are or health care policy that the rest of us may have missed. Or just some random health-related fact that blew you away.
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your mind something really important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that matters.