Coronavirus update: the virus is back; everyone should return to their prior precautions and get boosted this fall

Coronavirus update: the virus is back; everyone should return to their prior precautions and get boosted this fall

 – by New Deal democrat

At the beginning of this year, I indicated that I anticipated only writing about Covid if something significant was happening.  It is, so let’s look at the data.

Almost all State and Federal testing data is gone, but we do have a very good source in Biobot’s waste monitoring. Here’s the long term view (truncated to eliminate the huge original Omicron spike):

The number of particles per milliliter has nearly quadrupled since late June, from 165 to 618. In the past, this has equated to roughly 125,000-150,000 new cases per day.

All 4 Census regions of the country are affected:

Through one week ago, daily new hospitalizations – which in the past lagged infections by about a week or so – have nearly tripled, from 6,300 to 17,400, the highest level in almost 6 months, and only about 5,000 below last autumn:

And weekly deaths, which in the past has lagged several weeks behind hospitalizations, have also increased from below 500 to over 600:

It is very important to note that the last reliable deaths data (blue in the graph above) is from a full month ago. We already know that the following two weeks (gray) had higher death tolls, but we don’t know by how much. If deaths quadruple as cases have, then we will probably find out by Halloween that by the end of September there were about 2,000 deaths per week, which is back in the range of much of the earlier part of the pandemic.

Why has the wave that started this summer persisted? It does not appear because any of the new subvariants, particularly EG.5 and BA.2.86, are particularly virulent. Indeed, indications are that the next round of boosters, which were tailored to XBB, are highly effective against these variants as well. Rather, as explained in the linked CNN article, tests have indicated that “The people with the highest neutralizing antibodies were those who had recently recovered from an XBB infection.”

In other words, very few people have had new booster shots within the past 6 months, and we know that resistance from mRNA boosters wanes after 4-6 months. The very fact that there were so few new infections in the spring and early summer means that many more people have less resistance now.

The bottom line is, everyone should be going back to their Covid safety precautions, like wearing masks in indoor public places, and everyone eligible should sign up for the new booster this autumn.

Coronavirus special update: the annual summer wave has arrived – Angry Bear, New Deal democrat.