Saturday, July 31, 2021

COVID - Now What Do We Do?

Why does the CDC keep changing its mind?

If we're vaccinated why do we have to wear masks either indoors or outdoors?

If you want professional advice go to the CDC, or ask your doctor. If you're interested in my take, read on.

We all need a better understanding of "science." I don't mean memorizing the Periodic Table of the Elements, explaining quantum physics, or conducting an experiment from a textbook. I mean the process of science, "the scientific method."

This is what the former president of Harvard, James B. Conant wrote about in his book On Understanding Science (1947). As the Yale Books edition describes it, "a historical view of a number of the great scientists, of what their generation knew of their subjects, of the problem they set out to examine, and of how they solved it. Thus the reader is enabled to follow in a new way the scientific method at work, with all its limitations and wonders."

CDC did not flip-flop, or "change their mind." They were correct, with the data they then had, that if you were vaccinated it was extremely unlikely you would be infected (with or without symptoms) by the Alpha strain of COVID -- the one we confronted in 2020 and early 2021.

The Delta variant is an entirely different virus. It creates 1000 times more virus particles in our respiratory tract than the earlier variety; more to spread to those around us. It's more deadly. It travels faster, infecting more people. It's now the cause of over 80% of all COVID infections and 97% of COVID hospitalizations.

We were warned that if we did not do the test, trace, quarantine and isolate that successful countries were doing, we could have as many as 600,000 dead and even more deadly variants. We did not follow this advice. We did have 600,000 unnecessary deaths, and we now have the much more deadly variant Delta.

As the Delta variant spread, the CDC and others were able to gather data indicating how it differed from the Alpha -- data that obviously could not have existed prior to the arrival of the Delta variant.

What that data shows is that the vaccine can protect almost all of us from the Delta, almost all of the time, from hospitalization and death. What it cannot do, apparently, is protect us from infection -- with or without symptoms -- and thereby infecting others (as it was able to protect us, and them, from the Alpha).

Thus, we may become infected with Delta from both those who have not been vaccinated, and from those who are! Once infected, we can pass the infection to our children, other family and friends.

And that's why the CDC did not flip-flop in its advice, and why those of us who are vaccinated still need to mask up when indoors or in crowds outdoors.

# # #

No comments: