July 2, 2022 - 20 Million
July 2, 2022
Alabama averaged 1,826 reported cases per day over the past week, compared to 1,612 daily cases the week before - a rise of 13%. In my last newsletter, I noted that Alabama cases rose 17% compared to the prior week, so the pace of change has moderated somewhat. I wouldn’t make too much of this, since it appears that infections elsewhere in the U.S. are picking up steam. After dropping 7% last week, reported cases in the U.S. turned up this week, rising 15%.
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Hawaii, Alaska and Florida currently have the highest per capita rate of infection (over 50 cases per 100K population), while Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have the lowest (below 16 per 100K). Alabama’s rate of 37 cases per 100K population ranks 9th among the 50 states.
Meanwhile, Alabama’s statewide hospitalizations rose from 460 patients last Saturday to 608 patients today - a 32% increase in one week. The Covid patient population has more than doubled since June 1 - from 275 patients (of whom 28 were admitted to intensive care) to its current level of 608 patients (of whom 73 are in intensive care). This marks the highest level of hospitalizations in Alabama in 4 months.
The BA.4/BA.5 subvariants of Omicron have continued their march across the United States and are now officially dominant in the U.S., according to estimates released Tuesday by the CDC. As of the week ending June 25, BA.4 and BA.5 made up 15.7% and 36.6% of new cases, respectively, accounting for about 52% of weekly cases in the U.S., numbers that are expected to rise in the weeks to come.
The CDC release came on the same day that an FDA advisory committee voted 19-2 to recommend use of a component in the next COVID vaccine booster that will specifically target Omicron subvariants, including BA.4 and BA.5. Both Pfizer and Moderna have developed versions of their mRNA vaccines that target Omicron. However, while both companies announced that their booster shots have a neutralizing impact on BA.4 and BA.5, they acknowledge that the efficacy against these newer strains is lower than against earlier Omicron versions.
Of course, it’s possible that BA.4 and BA.5 will be eclipsed by new variants before this fall, lending a certain “whack-a-mole” element to the discussion of vaccine development. If that sounds discouraging, it’s important to remember that for 18 months, vaccines based on the original version of the coronavirus have provided robust protection, particularly against severe illness. After all, the Omicron subvariants have numerous traits in common with the original virus. In fact, the modified vaccine will be used solely as a booster, and people who receive their first shots will continue to get the original version of the vaccine.
To those who argue that vaccination is a futile exercise because the virus continues to mutate, a study just released by the prominent British medical journal, The Lancet, furnishes a stunning rebuttal. Based on large-scale modeling of officially reported Covid deaths from 185 countries and territories between December 8, 2020 and December 8, 2021, the study estimates that Covid vaccines prevented nearly 20 million deaths worldwide in the first year after they were introduced. That’s 20 million lives saved - making these vaccines one of the greatest miracles in human history. The totals:
6/18 - not reporting
6/19 - not reporting
6/20 - 3,196
6/21 - 1,933
6/22 - 2,040
6/23 - 2,083
6/24 - 2,035
6/25 - not reporting
6/26 - not reporting
6/27 - 4,467
6/28 - 2,180
6/29 - 2,425
6/30 - 1,926
7/1 - 1,785
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