I haven’t said this explicitly in a while, so it’s worth saying it again: If you are not vaccinated, the current level of risk out there is much higher than the graphs and charts naively imply. On top of that, the cost of getting Covid now is much higher than it was earlier, both because the new dominant strain is deadlier, and also because the main benefit of getting infected – that you can’t get infected again – no longer matters much since you’ll have vaccine access soon either way and things aren’t so bad out there that prevention is hopeless. You won’t even be able to skip the vaccine, due to people requiring it (plus it’s a good idea anyway, since the cost is trivial).
Not only have we vaccinated over a quarter of the population, and given one dose to over a third of the population, we’ve done so with an emphasis on those most at risk.
That means that if you’re in the remaining two thirds, not only is your risk a third higher than it looks (e.g. almost all the infections will happen to unvaccinated people) but also the risk of death is more than double what it appears, as those at risk have largely been vaccinated early.
Those developments are infuriating, and also enlightening as to how the system of the world functions these days, but the main event remains the race between new strains and vaccinations.
In America the race is plausibly close. Cases are rising, and likely will continue to rise for several more weeks, especially if vaccination rates continue to stagnate. But that acceleration should start soon, and at an additional 3% protection per week that grows and compounds, the vaccinations won’t take that long to turn the tide even if they don’t accelerate much.
In Europe the race is not so close. Vaccinations are running far slower, with no short term hope for things to get much better. The recent own goals only made a bad situation worse, and in many European countries things are looking quite bad. Lockdowns are once again the order of the day in many places, most notably Germany, and yet the situation is getting rapidly worse, in some places reaching crisis proportions.
Oh, right, you came here to learn about Covid-19 news. The short news is great. Infections and deaths are down much faster than anticipated. The vaccine news is less great. The process continues to accelerate, but that acceleration was slower than expected, and there’s still lots of FUD about what vaccinated people can and can’t ‘safely’ do and little movement yet towards saner policy in other ways, although there are signs of moving in that direction. The new strains aren’t here in force yet, but it seems likely that will happen soon.
One potentially big thing we learned is the study from infected NBA players, which suggests that the English strain causes infections to play out over a longer period of time than the classic strain, with all the implications of that.
Another was that it got even clearer than it already was that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are highly effective after only one dose, and that First Doses First would be a vast improvement while we continue to have much less vaccine than we need.