by Dr. Mao Shing Ni
- Delta is 50% more infectious than the Alpha strain, which was 50% more infectious than the original strain of COVID-19, and has a high rate of transmissibility that is similar to that of chickenpox.
- Because of the Delta variant, new COVID cases have increased dramatically in the past month. In the first week of July, there were 3,911 new cases but a few days ago there were 50,997, a thirteen-fold increase in less than a month. Over the past four weeks in a hot spot area like Los Angeles County, cases increased twenty-fold, from 124 on June 21 to more than 3,000 cases last week.
- There are an increasing number of breakthrough infections among vaccinated people that can transmit the virus to others. For example, in an outbreak involving 469 Massachusetts residents who were infected with the Delta variant in July, about 74% of the cases were reported in fully vaccinated people. Among those who were infected, over 3/4 were symptomatic although thankfully there were no deaths among them. Likewise in Los Angeles County, last week over 25% of new cases occurred among those who were vaccinated.
- In Israel, the health ministry found that the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine dropped to 39% for the Delta variant, even though protection against severe illness remained intact, a finding which led Israel to begin administering booster shots to people over 60 years of age.
Since hitting a peak in February new COVID cases and death rates began steadily declining but because of the arrival of the Delta variant, cases began climbing again in July which leads virologists to predict that an upward trajectory in numbers is likely to continue in the near future.
Whether you agree or disagree with the COVID vaccines, vaccination is becoming a way of life. For example, the US Federal Government, along with many companies and universities are mandating COVID vaccination for those returning to work or to school. If the European Union policy becomes a model for the United States, a vaccine passport may very well be required for people wanting to enter indoor restaurants or entertainment venues.
No more lockdowns
While lockdowns are unlikely to recur in the United States, restrictions are here to stay. On the socioeconomic level, I do not believe that the world can ever afford to lockdown again, even as the Delta variant continues to ravage hot spots around the country and the world.
As the Delta variant spreads, particularly in Asia, it could accentuate problems in the global supply chain which is already affecting the automobile and semiconductor industries. Prices for every day staples as well as housing and energy costs are also likely to continue increasing.
What’s happening in China?
China approves Chinese medicine for COVID-19
- Wear your mask and make sure it fits properly. Studies show that multilayered masks reduce transmission of COVID by 70% and an N-95 can bring that efficacy up to 95%. However, with N-95 still in short supply, a properly fitted KN-95 can be more effective than a regular mask. You can find them online or at taostar.com.
- Wash or sanitize your hands frequently and avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid crowds. Wear a mask and keep your distance from others indoors and in crowded places.
- Keep your immune system strong. Your best defensive strategy is to stay healthy by eating well, getting plenty of sleep and rest, reducing stress, exercising regularly, and taking herbs and supplements that support healthy immune function.
- Stay home if you feel sick and get tested. Unless you are tested, it is difficult to determine whether a runny nose, sore throat, body aches, and fever are related to COVID or just the regular flu.
In summary, as new variants take hold, COVID-19 is apt to be with us for quite some time. It is important that you are vigilant and take proactive precautions, but most importantly stay healthy because simply put—healthier people are less likely to succumb to and develop complications from any illness, including COVID.