COVID springtime is short. It’s set to end in four more days.
When B1.351 is vanquished, other variants will compete for dominance, with each other, and with vaccine makers. Ad infinitum. Ground Hog Day. Is this certain? No, but to assume otherwise is wishful thinking.
Fate is now so poised with the Delta variant. The news media are lacking an important comparison, percentage of breakthrough infection. This doesn’t give it:
Which row(s) of the table should we compare for an appropriately bracketed estimate? Both of these:
- In an early month of 2020, with no vaccine, 9% of those with no preexisting conditions were hospitalized; a ratio of roughly 10X infected to hospitalized.
- Including preexisting conditions, 21% were hospitalized; a ratio of roughly 5X infected to hospitalized.
Currently, 4% of all Pfizer recipients who contract Delta, with or without qualification for preexisting health conditions, are hospitalized. This provides a napkin-calc estimate of the protection of Pfizer against infection with the Delta strain:
A breakthrough infection percentage of between 5X and 10X the percentage of hospitalized patients, breakthrough of 20%-40%. compared to 5% for the viruses of the original Phase 3 study.
Do we call this “effective against the Delta strain?” Sure, get the shot. The shot improves the outlook for the individual. It is not good enough to prevent another COVID catastrophe. And there is a strong pure math argument that this level of efficacy will select for an Epsilon strain with even greater breakthrough. It has the near optimal combination of opportunity-for replication, and selectivity.
The failure of the media to correctly portray this comparison verges on managing the news as opposed to reporting it. In defense, “News” might say that “Authorities” have not made the comparison. I say, dig a little, and you’ll get it.
Perhaps the media don’t want to be the killjoys. Somebody has to do it, and it’s their job. We will soon don masks again, retreating to our private amusements. Perhaps after the vaccines are adjusted with boosters, we can ditch the masks — for a while.