New COVID updates 4-29-2022

First, I wanted to thank everyone who expressed concern after my Last Post outlining how I got infected with COVID-19. I want you to know that I’m doing very well. Being 10 days out from symptoms and diagnosis, and viral antigen negative, I’ve now returned to my normal activities.

Several important things happened this week. Dr. Fauci announced that the United States had exited the “pandemic phase” of this illness. While there has been political debate around this statement, not to mention court rulings and noise from the talking heads on television, new medical findings support that statement.

The BA.2 variant “wave” has proven much milder than its Omicron twin. While BA.2 infections have increased 50% in the past two weeks, the overall level of infections remains much lower that last winter’s Omicron surge. Hospitalizations have increased minimally (11%), ICU admissions (-4%), and deaths (-24%) have both decreased during this time.

Current US COVID-19 numbers and changes over the past two weeks.

This milder wave may be due to several factors. Weather is better across the country and people are outdoors, where the virus is harder to spread. The BA.2 variant may cause less severe disease than Omicron, but that has not been seen in test tube experiments. The biggest finding, though, is the disconnect between cases and severe illness and deaths; this is almost always the result of prior immunity. In this regard, two findings announced last week are crucial.

Vaccinations continue to increase. Over 80% of individuals over the age of 5 and 95% of those over 65 years are fully vaccinated. This is an impressive accomplishment given the slow uptake and disinformation surrounding the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. 

Percent of the over 65 population vaccinated. Only a few rural areas remain less than 75%

Equally important, the CDC has now found that Omicron has basically “boosted” the immunity of most Americans. Well over 60% of adults and 75% of children have been infected. Also, data from our group and others has shown that the combination of immunity from infection and vaccination is stronger than from either source alone.

Percent of the population with blood evidence of prior COVID-19 infection, broken down by age. Source CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7117e3.htm?s_cid=mm7117e3_w).

Thus, based on immunity alone, Dr. Fauci’s statement about being “beyond” the pandemic phase is justifiable and correct.

A final note. I was happy to see the government echo my support for the broad use of Paxlovid, the Pfizer antiviral drug, to treat COVID-19. Unfortunately, it has caused a bit of a run on the drug and made it harder to obtain. Also, many report that doctors seem reluctant to prescribe Paxlovid, seeming to want to restrict it to only the most severe cases. 

Call the test to treat sites to find out how to get Paxlovid.

Paxlovid is approved for anyone over 15 years of age. If you have significant symptoms from COVID you should take it unless you have a medical problem (allergy, metabolic disease) that excludes it. Call one of the government’s “test to treat” sites to get further information if it is not available from your physician.

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 “New COVID updates 4-29-2022

  1. Thank you for your continued updates here. I appreciate them, as good info is hard to come by. Good to hear you’ve recovered from covid!
    Here’s to hoping we’re truly moving past the pandemic phase for the long term. (I’ve not yet had covid at least to my knowledge, but I do have major anxiety about the possibility of long covid.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for helping us sort out Covid news!
    Trying to help an organization make prudent decisions about indoor gatherings, so a few questions;

    Question about boosters; if the first one only lasts a few months, why is the second one only recommended to 50 and up and immune compromised?

    Is a person who was boostered 5-6 months ago, below age 50, only minimally protected?

    Second, do vaccinated folks spread Covid as much as unvaccinated?

    Third, is there any new data on Covid long haul, or related systemic long term damage?
    In other words, even though we are boostered and have Paxlovid available, is there still possibility for long term damage in getting Covid at this point or even is it worse to get it more than once from a long term perspective?
    Thank you~

    Like

  3. great post, per usual. I am a physician, moonlighting via telemed. Have recently seen a big uptick in requests for Paxlovid. I was reluctant to prescribe to an otherwise perfectly healthy 23 yo, but have otherwise been looking to meet the prescribing criteria by any means. Have prescribed to quite a few folks now, and hope to do more. my day job deals with protecting a high ops tempo group of folks from covid at a federal agency. I will be extremely happy when covid is less of a concern.

    Liked by 1 person

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