This is a case update. I’ll also comment on new variant, new boosters, and the President’s announcement that the pandemic is over.
Cases continue to go down in the US, California and San Diego County. Again, since most people are now testing themselves using over the counter tests, the official case numbers are probably a gross underestimation of actual cases. Hospitalizations are a better measure, and they are also going down.
Variants BA.4.6 and BF.7: In my last post, I introduced a new variant BA.4.6. While hospitalizations are down, this new variant is now 11% of COVID cases in the US, and 20% of cases in the Midwest. Still, I don’t think this new variant is likely to have a big impact on the pandemic at the moment, and I expect cases to continue to go down. Deaths remain relatively low compared to the Omicron variant in April after the Winter wave. A newer variant, BF.7, is already growing in prevalence, but so far, there isn’t a lot of news about it.
New boosters including Omicron strains: In August, the FDA announced emergency authorization of new boosters by Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax. This new class of boosters produces spike proteins from the original Wuhan strain, but also from Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. People have been asking me my opinion about these new boosters. To preface my comments, I’ll say again that I am not a physician, epidemiologist, or immunologist, so my opinion is informed but not expert.
While the inclusion of BA.4 and BA.5 targets will make these new boosters an improvement over previous versions, I think most people will not benefit from them. For anyone who has had COVID, which is now arguably most of us, they will not really benefit you. Natural immunity has been shown in many studies to be equal or superior to vaccine mediated immunity in preventing infection and severe disease.
If you have never had COVID, you may benefit from the new booster. Keep in mind however that we have never really gotten clear data about adverse events after vaccination. In fact, Pfizer documents suggest that adverse events have been much more numerous than have been officially acknowledged. The new boosters have not yet been FDA cleared, and according to a video by John Campbell, Pfizer’s testing only included eight mice in their testing group. No human testing has yet been performed. Because variants are arising so quickly these days, I think the usefulness of new boosters is effectively over.
I suggested that my own parents get vaccinated in the Spring of 2021. But I am not suggesting that they receive the new booster. If you do choose to get the new booster, try and find a provider who will aspirate before injection.
President Biden announces that the pandemic is over: On September 19, CBS News released a video in which President Biden stated that the pandemic is over. In the interview, the President said “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. … But the pandemic is over.” Of course, this triggered a debate on whether the pandemic is really over. At least a few health care officials said the health crisis is still ongoing, and that caution is still warranted. Debates are now ongoing as to the appropriateness of ongoing emergency measures like vaccine mandates and emergency use authorizations.
As for me personally, I had difficult time with COVID in January, and a much more mild case in July. I am basically behaving normally at this point. Most places I go, even in California, are basically going back to normal.
On other hand, hospitals are still seeing COVID patients and laboratories are still doing lots of COVID testing, so for them, COVID is still a reality they have to deal with.
If you’ve never had COVID, I would still recommend wearing a high quality medical respirator indoors in public (N95, KN95, or KF94). Blue surgical and cloth masks are not effective against Omicron variants.
Don’t fear, but be smart,