This is a case update. I’ll also add something to last week’s discussion of the South Africa variant and vaccines, and also talk briefly about autoimmune disease.
Last week, cases in the US looked like they were rising, but this week, it’s more ambiguous. New cases in the US are the same or maybe even a little lower than last week, so I can’t point to a clear trend right now. A spike in new cases persists in the Eastern Michigan at the moment, as well as higher new cases in several other Eastern states.
New confirmed cases are also slightly up from last week in California and San Diego County. If we have a bump in cases because of Easter, it will start to show up on Wednesday or Thursday.
Update, Vaccines and the SA Variant: Last week I discussed the effectiveness of several vaccines on the South Africa variant (B.1.351). I said that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine works poorly against the vaccine and that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine were still poorly understood. New data from a small study Pfizer released in early April suggests that their vaccine is effective against the SA variant, though the study is too small to say how much. The Moderna vaccine is not particularly effective against the SA variant, but they are testing a booster against the SA variant right now. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is 75% effective in the US, and 57% effective in South African patients (as reported by J&J).
Auto-Immune Disease and COVID: It appears that those with auto-immune diseases, like me (celiac disease), may suffer more severe symptoms from COVID. There is some suggestion that this may be because of consistent use of NSAID medications to counteract inflammation. Most doctors will suggest remaining on anti-inflammatories unless COVID symptoms appear. Check with your doctor before changing any medications. I am continuing to take my NSAID medications. By the way, Ibuprofen (Advil) is an NSAID, so if you’re taking an NSAID regularly, take Tylenol instead of Advil for routine pain so as to not double up on NSAIDs.
Unfortunately, there aren’t really studies yet to determine if auto-immune sufferers are at greater risk from getting the vaccine. In my non-expert but informed opinion, the risk of SARS-2 infection for auto-immune sufferers is likely higher than the risk of a reaction from the vaccine. Since the COVID vaccines only present the Spike protein to the immune system, they’re likely no more risky than any other vaccination. If you tolerate other vaccinations well, you’ll likely tolerate this one too. My recommendation would be for auto-immune sufferers to get the vaccine. Of course, check with your doctor first. If you choose to get the vaccine, I strongly suggest getting it at a medical facility that can monitor you rather than in a mass vaccination center.
Don’t fear, but be smart,
PS. FB doesn’t like it when I discuss vaccines! They often add a note about vaccines when I discuss it, referencing info from the WHO. While comments FB has added recently are accurate, I generally don’t regard the WHO as a good source of information about COVID, since they are overly influenced by certain political entities and have occasionally been very wrong. The CDC is better, but it often very slow to present new information.