This is a COVID new case update. I’ll also discuss new cases world wide, and discuss a new video from immunologist Shane Crotty with lots of important information on vaccines and variants.
In the US, we’re starting to see an increase in new case numbers in several states, Michigan and New York in particular. This may be because of the relaxing of requirements by many municipalities, but may also be because of some of the new variants arriving in the US. More on the new variants below.
New case numbers have stabilized in California and San Diego County with around 2000 new cases a day in California and 300 in San Diego. We have yet to see a clear uptick in cases in those 2 regions, but we may see this soon.
Internationally, the US and UK are doing better than average at the moment, but many countries scattered all over the world, with concentrations in Eastern Europe and South America, are seeing new surges in cases. The US and UK are both vaccinating heavily right now, with vaccine rollouts moving slowly in continental Europe, so vaccination may play heavily in this pattern. Also several new variants of the SARS-2 virus are more infectious than the original strain and likely factor in these new surges.
Important new video with Dr. Shane Crotty: MedCram has posted a new video interview with Dr. Shane Crotty, an immunologist in San Diego. His work looks into immune system responses to vaccination as well as native infection. He has several very interesting points to make about SARS-2 immunity and vaccines. First, he says that those infected with SARS-2 do have significant lasting immunity for many months, although it does go down a bit over time. Different people can respond very differently, however, and reinfection is possible in some.
Regarding vaccines, he said that those who have been infected have a good but not great immune response, but it is significantly boosted by a single vaccine dose, gaining an immune response higher than those vaccinated alone. So there is a good reason to be vaccinated if you have already been infected. Of course, if you’ve been infected, you may choose to wait until at-risk people have been vaccinated before you get a vaccine booster.
As for variants, he says there are 2 broad categories of variants, those similar to the UK variant (now commonly called B.1.1.7), and those similar to the South Africa variant (B.1.351). Both new strains are more infectious than the original Wuhan strain. The big difference between them is that those who have had SAR-2 are immunized against the UK strain, but not the South Africa strain. Also, the Astra-Zeneca vaccine does not protect well against the South African strain, and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appear to be less effective as well. The good news is, the Johnson and Johnson and Novavax vaccines do appear to protect against the South Africa strain. This suggests that although the South Africa strain is different, it isn’t so radically different that we have nothing to fight it with.
Update, April 6th
A new small study from Pfizer suggests that their vaccine does work on the South Africa variant. The patient number in this trial is small, so they still don’t know exactly how effective it is.
Soberingly, the South Africa strain has reached the US, so if we see a surge in the next few weeks, this strain may be at least partially responsible.
Impact on ADE? If you’ve read my posts on ADE, then you know that the danger from ADE may come when a different strain arises. With the South Africa strain arriving in the US, we may be able to see if ADE will have an impact with SARS-2 in the next few weeks and months. So far, new death numbers have come down with Wave 3, and there is no apparent impact from ADE on case severity. I will certainly be watching to see if this changes.
Don’t fear, but be smart,