– by a New Deal Democrat
Contrary to President Biden’s statement last night, the coronavirus pandemic is *not* over.
First, here’s a long-term look at infectious particles in Biobot wastewater compared to confirmed cases:
Levels of COVID in the wastewater continue to be as high as at any point before Omicron’s initial attack last winter. And confirmed cases are at levels that were moderate — but not terribly low — even before Omicron.
Hospitalizations are down by just over a third, from 46,000 to 30,000, from their peak in June, but not as low as they were in summer 2020, summer 2021 or last spring:
Where there has been a definite decrease from previous times during the pandemic are deaths:
Over the past 6 months, deaths have typically averaged between 300 and 500 per day, and are currently just over 400. This is lower than at any previous point during the pandemic, with the exception of June and July 2021.
Deaths among adults continue to account for about 3/4 of all COVID deaths:
But hospitalization mortality due to COVID has dropped dramatically:
Weekly excess deaths have dropped to an extreme low:
Together, these statistics suggest that a large proportion of people who die from COVID are elderly people who were already in poor health with compromised immune and other systems, who would likely die of other causes in the near future.
While I won’t get into the graph, it is also true that the probability of death from COVID is heavily skewed in the direction of those who are either not fully vaccinated or completely unvaccinated.
In the meantime, the CDC has updated its information on the variant. A a week ago there seemed to be an anomalous increase in the original BA.2 variant. When we last saw something like this, it turned out that they were indeed new BA.4&5 variants. and for the first time in several months. It’s happened again, as several new variants are advancing:
The two new variants that appeared in the analysis are BA.2.75.2 and BF.7, also known as BA.126.96.36.199.
BA.2.75.2 is a sub-variant of the strain that initially caused an outbreak in India a few months ago. The BF.7 is one of the many sub-variants of the BA.5 that have appeared worldwide. While I haven’t found much analysis of either over the last few weeks, I did find this:
GISAID data shows that in many other countries where BA.4.6 has made significant inroads, it is rapidly fading in the face of another a highly mutated new variant of Omicron called BA.2.75. It was first sequenced in May in India, where it spread rapidly.
In countries such as Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy, where the BA.4.6 initially fought its way against the almost equal dominance of the BA.5, the BA.2.75 defeated both predecessors to become dominant.
The article quotes biology professor Tom Wenselaers of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (author of the above tweet) as stating:
The Omicron BA.4.6 was short-lived: almost everywhere it would be overtaken by the BA.2.75 & BF.7 / BA.188.8.131.52 fitters that appeared in the meantime.
In short, the pandemic is by no means over. At the current rate of 400 deaths per day, there will be nearly 150,000 deaths per year from COVID. And at a rate of 300,000 new infections per week, about 1/3 of all Americans will be infected during the year.
If you go indoors without a mask, chances are you will soon catch COVID. Depending on your age, the state of your immune system and vaccination, your result will be better or worse. Yes, the pandemic is gradually turning into an endemic disease. But we are by no means there yet.