By David M. Greenwald
The Delta surge is slowing going down—there were 103,785 new cases yesterday, which is still 7 to 8 times higher than it was in early July, but about 33 percent lower than it was a month ago at its peak.
California has just 17 cases per 100,000 now, second best in the country (behind Connecticut). The highest states led by Alaska at an astounding 121 per 100,000, are primarily states that have resisted vaccines—though there are exceptions like Maine which is 69 percent fully vaccinated and still at 45 per 100,000, 13th in the nation.
Five of the top six states are below 50 percent with Alaska at 51 percent.
A new study out of the UC Davis Genome Center found no significant difference in the viral load between vaccinated and unvaccinated people who tested positive and between those with or without symptoms.
“Our study adds to existing data about levels of virus in vaccine breakthroughs in two settings of high ongoing community prevalence of the delta variant,” said Professor Richard Michelmore, director of the UC Davis Genome Center.
Drilling down a bit, I found some important things to make note of.
First of all, despite breakthrough cases, you are better off being vaccinated.
Of the 49 patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 at UC Davis Medical Center, 41 were unvaccinated.
While reassuring, it is also disconcerting.
Overall the study finds: “Vaccines have been shown to be highly effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”
But “breakthrough infections where vaccinated people do become sick can occur.”
More importantly, they found “especially in areas where virus prevalence is high.”
They further note: “Although vaccinated people with a breakthrough infection are much less likely to become severely ill than unvaccinated, the new study shows that they can be carrying similar amounts of virus and could potentially spread the virus to other people.”
Further: “It’s very important to get vaccinated, Michelmore said, because vaccines greatly reduce the risk of severe disease, but you should not assume that because you are vaccinated you cannot get infected or transmit the disease to others. Mask-wearing and regular testing remain important, especially in areas of high prevalence.”
What I take away from all of this is the following.
First, there is an attitude that unvaccinated people have—this is my right to medical freedom. As long as you and yours are getting vaccinated, what I do shouldn’t matter.
The data shows this is completely false. Unvaccinated people are a threat to vaccinated people because they are far more likely to be infected and thus transmit the virus.
Vaccinated people do get breakthrough sickness. They get it at a lower rate than unvaccinated people as the data show, they get it less severely than unvaccinated people as the data show, but the idea that the presence of the vaccine means either should be able to do what they want is false.
The study in fact notes that “areas where virus prevalence is high” is especially conducive to those being vaccinated getting sick shows the error of this thinking.
Moreover, the study found that the actual viral load, which correlates with ability to transmit, is pretty much the same regardless—vaccinated/unvaccinated and sick/not sick. The only real defense then is masks and testing. That means that the states that have tried to ban mask mandates at schools and elsewhere are going against scientific recommendations.