Getting Out the Checklist

July 23, 2021 3:55 p.m.

TPM Reader JL walks us through the data points …

1. The ferocity of the upsurge, at least as measured by new cases has taken me aback to a large degree. Ashish Jha and Scott Gottlieb are my go to sources and I don’t think they expected to see this kind of upsurge in cases.

2. That said, I think you put your finger the other day on a key issue, i.e., that it’s really hard to know how we should be measuring cases among the vaccinated. The line between mild/asymptomatic and the antibodies did exactly what they were supposed to do but there’s enough Covid particles for a positive PCR test is not just blurry but almost impossible to define.

3. But … to get downbeat again … I’m surprised at the number of breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths. Wasn’t the thinking that vaccines were 99.5% effective against hospitalizations? It’s looking more like 97% or so. That’s five times as many breakthrough hospitalizations as expected. And the situation with deaths looks similar. If we get up to 1,000 deaths every day we could see 30 vaccinated Covid deaths per day.

4. One of the reasons I dwell on the above is I fear that the protective effects of the vaccines are being oversold a bit and I’m not sure the country is being prepared for that level of breakthrough deaths. Of course the vaccines are overwhelmingly compelling, but I do fear that the case is being overstated a bit.

5.It is more confusing than ever to figure out what measures one should take. I’m in Boston and not planning on doing anything different. But in a few weeks when cases per 100,000 gets significantly over 10? I’m not sure.

6. On the positive side, my sense is that it takes these surges take a couple of months to hit their peak and then cases start falling quickly. I was thinking about that even before it began to look like the UK is peaking right on schedule with cases hinting at a sharp U-turn. Overall, I expect hysteria over Delta to reach a fever pitch in a few weeks and then fade away pretty quickly as we get into late August.

7. Will the Delta surge in November/December/January be a lot worse than the current surge, or will marginal increases in vaccinations together with a ton of infection-based immunity mean it’s not that bad? Who knows!

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