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Sunday, August 22, 2021

How bad is the Delta variant surge?

From the spring of 2020 until last March or so, I kept weekly data on the COVID situation, focusing on weekly deaths from COVID--the only reliable measurement, it seemed to me, of how serious it was.  Then I ran into some software problems, and in the midst of them deaths began to drop, and vaccines became available.  Just yesterday I finished collecting data for the last two weeks, and that allows me to make clear--clearer than the news usually does--what is happening right now. It's quite a story.

The epidemic was peaking last January, and the nation as a whole registered 71 deaths per million--23,616 recorded deaths total--from COVID in the week ending January 27.  The situation was most serious in Alabama (181 deaths per million in the previous week), Arizona (153), Tennessee (111), Montana and Arkansas (100 each.)  But Pennsylvania, Mississippi, California and New Mexico ranged from 94 to 90; Nevada, Texas, Georgia and South Dakota from 88 to 81; Wyoming, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Connecticut from 79 to 70, and New York and Massachusetts at 69.  Doing the best were Minnesota, Maine, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Alaska, with 26 to 11 deaths per million that week.  Things are very different right now.

The death total for the week ending last Friday was 7,659, about one third of what it was last January for a week--23 deaths per million compared to 71.  Daily deaths in the US have tripled from 290 in July, the bottom, to more than 900, but they are still quite low.  Yet four states--Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida--registered from 86 to 67 deaths per million last week, numbers that would have ranked them 10th to 13th in the country last January at the height of the epidemic.  Next come Alabama, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, and South Carolina, from 48 to 34.  17 states last week were in single digits for deaths per million, including Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York, Wisconsin, North Dakota, New Jersey, Nebraska, DC, South Dakota, Connecticut, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Massachusetts(5), and New Hampshire (1). As you may recall, the US epidemic really started in the Northeast and particularly around New York city, and states in that region led the field for several months. Now, thanks to vaccination, they are at the bottom. It can be done.

It has not been done in some of the red states, particularly in the old confederacy, which have always had the worst public services in the country.  The anti-vaccine and anti-mask feelings are strong there. Texas's and Florida's ballooning death rates, if they continue, might actually turn the state blue, it seems to me, if enough Texans and Floridians realize that the increasingly extreme Republican policies will cost thousands of lives. If Texas had the same death rate as New York, it would have saved 812 lives last week; Florida with New York's death rate would have saved 1239.  So polarized are these states, however, that even that evidence might not convince them that they have been poorly governed.

COVID has been hard to predict. In the late summer of 2020 I was saying that death rates would not return to the highs of the spring, but they surpassed them by a wide margin during the winter.  We are at a much lower point now than we were a year ago but we are trending sharply upward.  Given the rarity of deaths among vaccinated people, however, it seems very unlikely that this winter could be as severe as last, unless a far more dangerous variant emerges. Fatal COVID seems to be a disease of the unvaccinated, and thus, is pretty much confined to those states that have turned their backs on the western tradition of public health.


10 comments:

Bozon said...

Professor
Thanks for this update research.
I would like to widen the discussion just a little.
To vax or not to vax is the most vexed of questions. Certainly blacks here are among the most reluctant. Biden/Harris record on negro relations, for decades, is hardly stellar, to say the least.

There are also varieties of anti vaxxers, both pundits and activists like Robert Kennedy Jr, as well as scientists, on the left, who have seen gain of function research roll out into China at our behest, whose concerns and misgivings about the implications and very efficacy, both long and short term, of Covid vaccines are legitimate.

They are also part of the Western tradition.

As Thomas L Friedman said, "some things are true even if Trump believes them.", and even if he was vaxxed himself.

For example, research and propaganda on racial differences and eugenics in the 19th were often bannered by what one would have to call Enlightened scientific progressives, as Nicholas Wade has pointed out. A Troublesome Inheritance, Before The Dawn.

The fact that these American racialist scientific views were later abandoned under the blind march of liberal anti science Jeffersonian equalitarianism, and the demonization of Germany as the only original sinner country against the Jews, does not mean that they had not been both "progressive" and "enlightened", under these your criteria such as they are, not mine.

The WHO wants to interdict boosters in the white West to divert those resources liberally to billions of unvaxxed people of color, Hindus, Africans, etc, all of whom want to pile angrily into the West on our nickel.

One can call this progressive and enlightened as well, as I am sure Brian Lehrer WNYC already has.

All the best

Bozon said...

Professor

Having discussed vaccines in general, in the context of insuring against liability of Big Pharma manufacturers of these, the matter is less clear, and less predictable, the deeper one goes.

The reluctance of the FDA to approve vaxxing the 5 through 9 year old age group is just one indicator.

The vaccines for Covid were approved on an emergency basis with less than the normal vetting, which even in normal circumstances results in high uncertainty from an insurability standpoint.

All the best

Bozon said...

Professor

My acquanitanc, formerly in insurance, discusses statistics for ICU admissions and deaths of previously vaxxed patients versus unvaxxed. Vaccinations are already both waning, and less effective or ineffective against Delta.

All the best

Bozon said...

pfofessor
Cases in Israel, the canary in the coal mine, have risen recently almost as steeply in the fully vaxxed as the unvaxxed. Serious infections appear to be comparable. See below. Maybe I got this wrong.
Michael Mina is great too.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1429878189011111936.html

Bozon said...

professor
it seems this post of yours is of little interest to other readers!
I wonder if there may be something to be said, vaxed or no vaxed, for innate immunity.
I was sitting in a hotel bar here having dinner back in 2020, February or March.
We already had seen the devastation in North Italy.
I leaned over to my wife and noted that I had lost both my sense of taste and smell, which i could not recall having happened anything like so totally, and always with other head cold symptoms, which I did not then have at all.
She said I was drunk.
That was before that there was as clear a correlation for that symptom.
My doctor, an old friend, and an anti vaxer himself, who then contracted it mildly, poo pooed this at the time.

All the best

Bozon said...

Professor

This will not be to everyone's taste, but sometimes one has to turn and face it.

Tittytainment is only for the rich poor, in the West.

Thomas Malthus: "You still aren't getting the kind of high morbidity from variants like Delta among the billions global poor to reverse the climate degradation catastrophe and global warming caused by human over population."

This comment is dedicated to Greta Thunberg and her colleagues.

Live long, and prosper.

All the best

Bozon said...

Professor
I have been following Michael Mina's suggestions, Medcram and elsewhere, since mid 2020 for rapid testing.

Now he has finally made it onto goofy FAR LEFT BLM THE 1619 PROJECT Bryan Lehrer, WNYC, arguing the same good thing.

But we live here in a ship of fools:full vaccinations, PCR only testing, and mass quarantines.
All the best

Bozon said...

Professor
Footnote to an as yet unpublished comment:

Duke called in, and pointed out to Lehrer the truth, about the show never having even promoted Mina's argument before yesterday!

And Duke sounds to me like an intelligent, and devoted, black listener, who quite understandably feels betrayed by this Stokely.
hello

All the best

Bozon said...

Professor
This is a very worthwhile discussion:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G433fa01oMU

All the best

Bozon said...

Professor
Especially interesting re risk, and insuring vaccines, re Salk, etc, minute 158