State of Affairs: Oct 25, 2021
The U.S. continues to decline in cases as we’re averaging 73,365 new cases per day. And while the decline is welcome, the WHO pointed out the U.S. is still reporting the biggest number of new cases across the globe. We still have some time until we’re out of this Delta wave.
The WHO also noted Europe was the only region in the world where cases are increasing. The 5% increase is largely driven by Turkey, Russia, and the UK.
Russia is repeatedly breaking COVID19 records. Moscow just ordered a 10-day lockdown for everyone. Unvaccinated people 60+ years old are ordered to stay home for four months. High case rates shouldn’t be a surprise because only 33% of their population is fully vaccinated. Russia is only allowing inoculation from Russian made vaccines (like Sputnik- here is an older post about that vaccine). As you can imagine, there is some hesitancy around that.
The UK is making news because they’re now at a higher peak than their original Delta wave. A lot of people are blaming a new sublineage of Delta called AY.4.2. Some news sources have coined it “Delta Plus”. It’s responsible for 10% of cases in the UK right now. AY.4.2 has a 2 mutation difference from Delta making it slightly (10%) more transmissible. These two small changes is not enough threaten vaccine protection though. In other words, we aren’t worried this variant will significantly change the pandemic trajectory like Alpha and Delta.
I’m also keeping an eye on Germany. In particular, the timing of their incline. On October 18, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that their state of emergency would end on November 25. It has been in place for almost 19 months. This was expected to set off a domino effect — other countries announcing “the end” too. However, since the announcement cases have skyrocketed. Correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but it’s hard not to think that the announcement impacted behavior, which in turn impacted transmission.
Back in the U.S., the case leader continues to be Alaska (107 cases per 100K) followed by other Western states like Montana (79 per 100K), Wyoming (75 per 100K), Idaho (65 per 100K), and North Dakota (61 per 100K). All of these states are decreasing, albeit painfully slowly.
The Northeast continues to creep up in case count. Maine and New Hampshire has the highest 14-day case increase (9%) in the nation. But they’re not having the explosive Delta waves that we saw in other states thanks to their high vaccination rates. Weather may start playing a role in transmission as we enter the Winter months.
Notably, Florida, once the leader in cases and deaths, now has the lowest case rate in the United States (8 cases per 100K).
12.9 million people have received their booster shot since August 13. The majority of are Pfizer, which is not surprising given their booster have been approved for longer. Very few J&J boosters were given out this weekend: only 15,427 out of 15.4 million who got the original J&J. This may be an early sign that J&J people prefer mixing.
Meanwhile, the Salt Lake County Health Department seems to need more things to do. They organized vaccination rate by zodiac sign. (Come on, Scorpio!) If anyone can figure out the confounder(s) here let me know. This has been bugging me all weekend.
Flu activity remains to be very low. When you’re getting your COVID19 booster, be sure to get your flu shot too. You do not need to wait a certain amount of time between vaccinations. Like I’ve written before, there are many reasons to get your flu shot this year.
Lots of vaccine information for 5-11 year olds coming out this week. Brace yourself.