General Course of the Pandemic
It is hard to tell where we are. There are states that have sharply lower numbers of cases. There are states that show a flat course. The same goes for counties, cities, neighborhoods, different businesses. There is no single set of numbers that applies to everyone. For your local stats contact your state health department, but don’t expect much. The jumble of antigen tests, PCR tests, and antibody tests with different degrees of accuracy continues. Still no national policy on testing or contact tracing.
No one knows if the massive demonstrations going on will increase the number of cases. It is clear that open air is better than closed rooms as far as diminishing transmission is concerned. It is also clear that shouting increases the chances that you will share your virus with others.
There was one report from an Italian physician, who said that he thought the virus was losing its “potency.” The correct term is virulence, and there is no scientific proof that the virus is any nicer to us now. What may have happened is that hospitals have gained a lot of experience in treating the extremely sick people. Possible that we have gotten better at managing difficult cases.
We have increased testing; up to 400,000 a day. Unclear which tests these numbers represent. I read that we need to get up to 900,000 a day in order to be able to open all businesses fully. I do not think that adequate numbers of contact tracers have been trained. Admiral Giroir, the testing “czar,” has been removed from his duties. We have been told that he is no longer needed, and that other people will take over from him. As is so often the case with our current public health personnel, no specific individual will be in charge.
There was one report from China that used one oral antiviral medicine with promising results. I have read nothing else new on the triple oral therapy or the Regeneron antibodies. Early June was supposed to be the time when many of these studies began to report their findings. We hope that the coming week will be busy in this front.
The Chinese have developed their own adenovirus vaccine, with results as promising as the Oxford vaccine has shown. Both the Oxford and the Moderna vaccines are in Phase II studies. The usual progression in these cases is that, if no safety “signals” come up, tens of thousands of people will receive a vaccine in September. These will (and should) be limited to health care workers and others who are at high risk. This is not a way to discriminate against anyone. When we test for vaccine efficacy, it is important to first give it to people who are likely to be exposed to the virus.
If we begin by giving it to people who mostly stay at home, it may take us five years to find out if it is effective. I read that we are ramping up at least four factories to make these vaccines, now, even if we do not know if they will work. We are making stuff that we may have to pour down the drain later on. The government has accepted the financial liability if it turns out that we will have to ditch any product.
Please continue to wear your masks. Risk is small if you go take a walk in the park and have a cup of coffee in your favorite haunts, preferably with outdoor seating. Tip exceedingly generously. Be nice to people, even if they are barefaced. We can do this.