120,000 cases in a day.

It is humbling to see nature in a rampage.

Today, our country had 120,000 new cases of COVID-19. The numbers reflect a diffuse increase in infections throughout the country, with almost every state seeing increases.

Most of the areas impacted are new, so one could explain this surge with areas naive to the virus. This does not, however, explain areas like Chicago, where the infection seems to rage regardless of prior COVID-19 waves.

At this rate, the entire US population would be infected in less than 5 years. Arguments about “herd immunity” are meaningless when the virus is endemic in every state, every country, every city. It will infect everyone regardless of countermeasures.

The best hope is a truly effective vaccine that will break the cycle of infection. We will know soon. We need to stem the tide for now with the hope many of the most susceptible will be protected.

If this first approach fails, we need to make decisions about new types of vaccines, as well as ways to manage the infections to keep the heath system intact so it can provide basic care for other important diseases. Children need vaccines, adults, especially seniors, need cancer screens, diabetes management and care for other respiratory infections like influenza and RSV.

While we have been arguing about the esthetics of our approach nature has been relentless. It does not care about personal conflicts. It simply see opportunity. More infected people means more virus. It wins, we lose.

We are all tired of fighting, but now may be the most important time. Let us all stop arguing and redouble our efforts to stem this pandemic at least until the vaccine read out is clear.

The first data is at most a month or six weeks away. At that time we will decide our path forward.

Published by jbakerjrblog

Immunologist, former Army MD, former head of allergy and clinical immunology at University of Michigan, vaccine developer and opinionated guy.

5 thoughts on “120,000 cases in a day.

  1. Now I’m really confused.

    You say “Arguments about “herd immunity” are meaningless when the virus is endemic in every state, every country, every city. It will infect everyone regardless of countermeasures.” You also made a post earlier this week that a manuscript published in Science showed long-term antibody resistance (I can’t remember the correct term right now – too early inthe morning) in people who have been previously infected. So if these two things are true, then once the virus has passed throuh the population and conveys antibody resistance in those people, hasn’t herd immunity been established?

    In my mind it’s not unlike smallpox was in the 18th century in North America: in her excellent book Pox Americana, Elizabeth Fenn discusses how American troops who had been born in the colonies and thus had not been widely exposed to smallpox suffered greatly when infected, while at the same time British (and other troops) who came here from Europe to fight the revolution were not nearly as affected. This was a real problem for General Washington because at any given time a significant number of his troops were out of commission due to being severely ill while at the time the British were mostly immune. (There is also a fascinating discussion about the early attempts at ‘vaccination’ using cotton thread soaked in pus from the smallpox pustules of sick patients being intentionally inserted into cuts made in the arms of soldiers who had not had smallpox yet. If you haven’t read Pox Americana yet I recommend it; I think you would enjoy it.)

    I may be wrong here, but isn’t vaccinating people simply a way to induce a ‘controlled infection’ in order to induce antibody resistance, and thus immunity (partial or otherwise)? And if a person has already had COVID-19 aren’t they already ‘immune’ and thus don’t need to be vaccinated?

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    1. Sorry for confusing you. What I am saying is that at these rates herd immunity becomes a fait accompli, not a discussion point.

      PS: I have read Pox Americana and also know about Lord Jeff Amherst!

      Best,
      JB

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  2. So are masks ineffective – is that the so what of this spread? Or have we not done enough to identify what type of mask people should be wearing? Also this article in the WSJ yesterday makes me wonder how many other animals it has infected and how that mutation can impact a viable vaccine: https://www.wsj.com/articles/denmark-to-cull-17-million-mink-after-coronavirus-mutation-found-11604592156?st=u13nb444u9bjatk&reflink=article_copyURL_share

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    1. Think masks are effective, but only reduce infectivity., don’t eliminate it.
      Not so much concerned about the mink issue. Not an animal most humans come in contact with (at least while they are alive).
      Think the vaccine will help a lot more, but only if effective.
      Let’s hope.

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