In the coming days, the leaked information from the CDC is going to be misrepresented by every anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist and general nutter in the world, so we will need facts to counter the inevitable surge of crazy. We will also need to understand the implications of this data for ourselves.
Point number 1.
We have to understand that all this data is about the Delta variant. Delta is a mutation of the original Covid19 virus and its an order of magnitude more infectious.
The graphic below [taken from the CDC powerpoint slides] compares various forms of infectious diseases. The higher up a disease is located on the graphic, the deadlier it is. The further to the right it is, the more infectious it is.
As you can see, Delta is not very high up on the graphic – i.e. it’s nowhere near as deadly as say Ebola – but it is a long way to the right. That means it is as infectious as chickenpox. And chickenpox is the second most infectious disease of all.
Point number 2.
All of the current, first generation of vaccines were developed in a mad rush…for the Alpha variant of Covid19 – i.e. the original version of the virus. We’re only now starting to get reliable data about how well these vaccines work against Delta.
Point number 3.
Emerging data shows that none of the current vaccines work as well against Delta as they do against the Alpha [original] variant. When it comes to reducing the severity of disease and the likelihood of death, however, they still work extremely well, with a few exceptions.
Point number 4.
The exceptions include people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly. For them, the vaccines do not work as well. The operative phrase here is ‘as well’. That means people with cancer who are on chemo, or those with autoimmune diseases being treated with immuno-suppressant drugs, or steroids or a whole range of other immune system related conditions, all of these people must continue to take extra precautions. These include the wearing of masks, social distancing, not congregating in crowds, hand hygiene etc.
Point number 5.
Apart from the immuno-compromised, the vaccines do NOT provide 100% protection against infection, even for normal, healthy people who are fully vaccinated.
According to the CDC, 35 thousand fully vaccinated people out of a total vaccinated population of 162 million are likely to get what’s called a breakthrough infection. This is when you become infected despite the vaccine. In percentage terms, this is 0.02% of fully vaccinated Americans spread throughout the US.
Point number 6.
Vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections are still far better off than those with no vaccination at all. The graphic below, also taken from the CDC powerpoint slides, shows a side-by-side comparison of vaccinated versus non-vaccinated people:
The green bars represent the unvaccinated population, and the levels of disease, hospitalization and death that they suffer from Delta.
The small blue bars represent the vaccinated population who experience disease, hospitalization and death as a result of breakthrough infection. It’s like comparing an ant to an elephant.
Point number 7.
In my last post I talked about Israeli data showing that Pfizer protection against transmission – i.e. the chance of infecting others even though you yourself are unaffected – drops to about 39% after four months. CDC data shows that if you are fully vaccinated and get breakthrough infection, you will be just as infectious as someone who has no vaccination at all.
This, more than anything else, is why both the US and the UK have mandated mask wearing again. To protect both the unvaccinated AND the vaccinated.
To put this transmission problem into context, we have to remember that these first generation vaccines were designed to reduce serious disease and death if you caught Covid. No one knew whether they would provide any protection against transmission at all.
Then we started getting data from Israel and other places that suggested that yes, not only did the vaccines protect against serious disease and death, they protected against transmission as well! Hooray.
Unfortunately, we did not have all the data back in January and February, 2021. Now in July, we know that the protection against transmission is temporary, at best.
Point number 8.
The implications of this new data are that we will have to continue all the OTHER pandemic precautions as well as getting vaccinated. That means wearing masks in public, social distancing, stringent hygiene, restrictions on congregating in crowds etc. Not the news any of us want to hear, but still miles better than dying.
There will be deaths though. Most will be amongst the anti-everything crowd who won’t get vaccinated, won’t wear masks, won’t accept lockdowns and other public health orders. Sadly there’s not much anyone can do to save those who refuse to be saved.
Our job is to protect ourselves and those we love by continuing to live cautiously until we see what effect booster shots have on Delta. With luck, the boosters will do the trick. If they don’t, we’ll have to live cautiously until the next generation of vaccines are ready.
We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to get vaccines so quickly, even if they aren’t a magic bullet against Covid. Now we just need to be sensible…and patient. Covid is not finished with us yet. Stay safe. -hugs-
For a full list of the powerpoint slides leaked from the CDC go to : https://context-cdn.washingtonpost.com/notes/prod/default/documents/54f57708-a529-4a33-9a44-b66d719070d9/note/753667d6-8c61-495f-b669-5308f2827155.#page=1
For Dr John Campbell’s explanation of the CDC powerpoint slides [this is where I based my own understanding of the data] go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsRdICFRHcc