Ari Armstrong, Coronavirus, Exclusives, Uncategorized

Armstrong: Getting past Covid’s fifth wave

If you know a doctor or nurse who works with Covid patients, or if you are one, you know how absolutely brutal the pandemic, and especially this fifth wave, has been for many health professionals. I think many doctors and nurses probably have PTSD or something close to it, except the trauma is not yet “post.”

True, the current wave is nowhere near as bad as the third wave, which peaked on December 2 with 1,995 patients in the hospital (including 1,841 people confirmed to have Covid and another 154 people suspected to have it). As of September 9, 983 people were in the hospital with a confirmed or suspected case.

The difference is that the fifth wave didn’t have to happen. It has been driven mostly by some people’s refusal to get vaccinated. So many doctors and nurses face the punishment of having already worked themselves past the point of exhaustion for many months and now having to continue to treat people who for the most part could have avoided serious illness.

I confess the severity of this wave took me by surprise. After the fourth wave, I thought the widespread availability of the vaccines would depress subsequent waves. But the spread of the nasty Delta variant combined with a still-large unvaccinated population has made this wave one of the worst.

Numbers released by the Colorado health department tell the story:

* For the week of August 22, among the vaccinated, 96.1 people per 100,000 (of that population) tested positive, with a median age of 45. Among the unvaccinated the number is 327, with a median age of 32.

* For the week of August 15, among the vaccinated, 3.5 people per 100,000 were hospitalized with Covid, with a median age of 73. Among the unvaccinated the number is 13.2, with a median age of 58.

* For July, among the vaccinated, 8.1 people per million died due to Covid, with a median age of 79. Among the unvaccinated the number is 46.9, with a median age of 76.

Skeptics might point out that the vaccines are not perfectly effective. True, but they’re still pretty darn effective even against the Delta variant. Notice the age differences; unvaccinated people who end up in the hospital tend to be somewhat younger.

And who do you think is giving Covid to the vaccinated people who are getting it? Disproportionately it’s spread by the quarter of the eligible population that’s still unvaccinated. True, vaccinated people with breakthrough infections can spread the virus. However, vaccinated people are less likely to get the virus, and they’re contagious for less time (on average). The blunt fact is that if everyone were vaccinated hardly anyone would get the disease.

What government should do regarding vaccinations is a separate matter. My view is that the federal government ought not compel private businesses to become vaccine enforcers for the government, the policy that President Biden announced. (True, people have the option under that mandate to get regularly tested instead.) I do think that private businesses obviously have the right to require their employees to get vaccinated as a condition of employment, and government operations, especially the military and schools, properly may require their employees to be vaccinated.

What is bizarre is that the federal government is at the same time requiring some people to be vaccinated and forbidding others to be. As I pointed out previously, the FDA continues to outlaw vaccines for children under 12. Notably, dozens of Colorado schools have reported outbreaks among students.

There’s something odd about the way the state reports “Vaccine Administration Demographics.” It shows the 10–19 age group as underperforming on vaccinations, comprising 13% of the population but only 9.64% of people immunized (as of September 10). But that’s hardly a fair comparison when some of those people are legally forbidden to get the vaccine!

Here is another problem. As the state’s “vaccine breakthrough” site confirms, the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine is quite a bit more prone to “breakthrough” infections relative to the mRNA vaccines. For the week of August 22, the unvaccinated rate of infection per 100,000 was 327; the Janssen rate was 167, the Pfizer rate was 105, and the Moderna rate was 71. And yet the homicidal FDA still has not approved a second shot for people who got the one-shot Janssen vaccine. A second shot either of the same thing or of an mRNA vaccine would radically boost immunity among those people.

To the doctors and nurses out there: I know we stopped our evening howling long ago. But we still see your heroic efforts during these trying times, and we appreciate your life-saving work. I sincerely hope this will be the last major wave. To the rest of you: Please, do what you can to stay out of the hospital and to prevent spread of this horrid disease. Get your shots.

Ari Armstrong writes regularly for Complete Colorado and is the author of books about Ayn Rand, Harry Potter, and classical liberalism.  He can be reached at ari at ariarmstrong dot com.

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