Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
As COVID numbers continue to increase, so do the number of questions from individuals about what they should do to protect themselves. In this week’s video, I address some of these concerns and review the latest data and science on what is occurring.
In the United States, there are four times as many cases per day compared to a month ago. Hospitalizations and deaths are also increasing, but at far lower rates than cases. The three approved vaccines remain effective against the virus. About 97 percent of hospitalized coronavirus patients have not been vaccinated. The highly infected delta variant has caused huge spikes in cases in Louisiana, Florida, Missouri and Arkansas. In the U.S., 57 percent of the total population has been vaccinated, and 70 percent of those 18 and older. The states with the lowest vaccination rates are being hit the hardest. Hospitalizations in the Texas Medical Center are way up, with a weekly average of 246 cases per day, compared to about 50 a month ago.
New data shows the difference in vaccinated vs. unvaccinated in case rates and deaths. While breakthrough cases are occurring in the vaccinated, those typically do not require hospitalizations.
In one particular example highlighted in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, multiple large “densely packed” public events in a Massachusetts town from July 3 to July 17 resulted in hundreds of COVID cases, even among the vaccinated. The information concerning viral loads shows that with the delta variant, breakthrough cases may be as transmissible as unvaccinated cases. If you’re vaccinated and become infected in a breakthrough case, you may not have bad symptoms, but you may transmit the disease to others, and an unvaccinated person is more likely to have a much worse case.
Remember, if a vaccine is 95 percent effective, and 1 million people are exposed, you can expect 50,000 cases. Vaccinated or not, we still have to be very careful in crowds.
Published journal articles continue to shed light on the virus and I will update you each week on the latest. We are going to be at this a while longer. Unless vaccination rates increase substantially, the current wave will peak in case numbers in September, and deaths in October.
If you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, talk to others who have questions.
Have a good weekend. Stay safe. Wear a mask indoors if you do not know the vaccine status of others.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO