Sunday, November 7, 2021

Boosters Not Lifting Off

Covid booster shots were generally authorized over six weeks ago in the United States. They had been available to the immunocompromised since early August.

How many are agreeing to the additional jab?

The boosters do not seem to be getting much uplift in the United States right now.

This is particularly evident in the last week or so where the trend has almost flat-lined.

Note the stark difference in Booster uptake in the U.S. compared to the U.K. and Israel.

It is also interesting to note that the U.K. and Israel both saw significant spikes in Covid cases right after booster doses were introduced.

Iceland and Singapore are two other countries that have vaccinated a much greater share of their populations than the United States.

This chart shows the share of the fully vaccinated in these countries compared to the U.S.

Singapore and Iceland have also administered many more booster doses per capita than the United States.

Notice the enormous spike in cases in Singapore and Iceland despite 80% vaccination rates that occurred right about the same time that Boosters were introduced.

Both have far more confirmed cases of Covid in the last several months with 80% vaccinated and boosters being used than they ever had before the vaccines were introduced.

Yes, deaths are lower in both countries than in the United States but Singapore's mortality statistic may soon surpass the U.S. number based on current trends.

If you did not have the data from these other countries you could look at the falling cases in the United States over the last eight weeks and might attribute it to the introduction of the booster shots.

However, could the fact that the United States is doing comparatively better right now actually be due to the fact that the number of those taking booster doses have not taken off? Do the vaccines somehow cause cases to spike in the short-term. There is evidence of that pattern around the world since vaccines were introduced.

I don't know, but it is another example where not enough questions are being asked about why we are seeing higher cases along with higher vaccination rates.

What do I make about the lagging booster lift off?

Could it be that more Americans are beginning to ask questions about all of this?

Are they beginning to wonder whether they are getting the full truth?

Do the public health authorities really have their best interests in mind?

Why are so many who ask questions or have a differing view being silenced?

What I do know is that the next three months are going to tell us a lot more about the vaccines.

We are heading into the seasonal period in the populous northern states where respiratory viruses spread the most easily.

Will the vaccines provide a clearly defined protective advantage compared to our experience last year when we did not have the vaccines?

Will booster uptake improve?

How many children 5-11 will take the vaccine? Will it have any positive effect? Will we see any negative effects in the near term?

To this point, 2021 looks worse with the vaccines than 2020 did without them.

There have been more Covid cases in 2021 thus far than in all of 2020.

There have been more Covid hospitalizations in 2021 than in all of 2020.

There have been more Covid deaths in 2021 than in in all of 2020.

You don't hear these statistics on the evening news.

The second 2021 Covid wave has swept through the Sunbelt and is now centered in the Upper Midwest.

A big reason the national numbers have come down recently is that there are few big population centers in the Upper Midwest states compared to the Sunbelt.

However, what happens when Covid challenges Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Boston and other large population centers in the coming months?

Based on what I have seen previously, I am not confident the vaccines are up to the task. I hope I am wrong.

Many countries in northern Europe are now seeing significant spikes in cases despite high vaccination rates.

Cases are higher now than they were in early February when the vaccination programs were just starting in these countries.

It is interesting that Sweden, the country that placed the biggest bet on natural herd immunity early in the pandemic, appears to be faring best right now.

Compare Sweden to the United States and the UK since February 1, 2021.

Are we going to see trends similar to Northern Europe in the next few months in the U.S. when Covid challenges the Midwest and Northeast population centers?

If things don't go well I would expect the blame game will get louder.

I don't expect any of the experts taking a step back and reflecting on what they may have gotten wrong.

It will be the public's fault.

Not enough wore masks.

Not enough got vaccinated.

Not enough got the booster. 

Not enough parents were willing to get their children vaccinated. Mandates are necessary.

We need to start vaccinating 2 year olds.

Last year Joe Biden told Americans during the last Presidential debate in October to expect a "dark winter".


“We’re about to go into a dark winter. A dark winter,” Biden said. “And he (Trump)  has no clear plan, and there’s no prospect that there’s going to be a vaccine available for the majority of the American people before the middle of next year.”

It turned out there was a vaccine available for everyone age 12 and over by the middle of the year.

In fact, boosters were being pushed out just after the middle of the year to most who needed or wanted it.

Despite that, it wasn't just a dark winter. It was a dark year. In many, many ways beyond Covid.

We can only hope and pray that the coming winter is not darker still.

We need a boost in spirits. 

The question remains whether the Covid vaccine and the boosters can provide it.

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