Covid-19 is back again.
The reason is somewhat unknown and there is no guarantee that the case load will continue to decline. But the turnaround is now big enough and long enough to be noticeable.
The number of new daily cases in the United States has decreased by 35% since September 1.
Globally, the number of cases has decreased by more than 30% since late August. “This is as good as the world has seen over the months,” said Dr. Eric Topol of Scripps Research. I have written last week.
These declines are in line with the patterns perceived by regular readers of this newsletter. Covid’s mysterious two-month cycle. Since the Covid virus began to spread in late 2019, cases have often surged for about two months, sometimes due to variants such as Delta, and then decreased for about two months.
Epidemiologists do not understand why. Many general explanations, such as seasonality and increasing or decreasing social distance, are clearly inadequate, if not wrong. The two-month cycle occurred in different seasons of the year, even if human behavior did not change in any obvious way.
The most compelling explanations include several combinations of viral biology and social networks. Perhaps each variant of the virus can infect some people in particular, but not others. When many of the most vulnerable are exposed, the virus recedes. And perhaps the variants take about two months to circulate in an average-sized community.
Human behavior plays a role, and people are often more cautious as caseloads begin to increase. But social distance is not as important as public debates about viruses often imagine. As Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told me, “we have attributed too much human authority to the virus.”
For example, the recent decline has occurred even if millions of American children rush back into school buildings.
Whatever the reason, the two-month cycle continues. It is displayed by global number as shown in the graph below. The number of cases increased from late February to late April, then decreased until late June, increased again until late August, and then decreased.
This pattern is also evident in countries such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, the United Kingdom, France and Spain. In each of them, the Delta variant led to a surge in cases that lasted somewhere between a month and a half and two and a half months.
In the United States, delta surges began in June in some southern states and began to recede in those states in August. In many other parts of the United States, cases began in July and have begun to decline in the past few weeks. As Jennifer Nuzzo of Johns Hopkins University told The Washington Post, even pediatric cases are declining, despite the lack of vaccination approval for children under the age of 12. (Here you can see the overall trends for all states.)
The most encouraging news is that serious Covid illnesses are also declining. The number of Americans hospitalized in Covid has decreased by about 25% since September 1. Daily mortality, which usually turns around after a few weeks of case and hospitalization, has decreased by 10% since September 20. early summer.
“The last big wave”?
This is part of the newsletter and it should be emphasized that these declines may not last. Covid’s two-month cycle is not some sort of iron science law. There were many exceptions.
In the UK, for example, caseloads have been seesawed over the last two months rather than consistently declining. In the United States, cases may increase this fall due to the onset of cold weather, increased indoor activity, or other unknown factors. The course of the pandemic remains highly uncertain.
But this uncertainty is also in the near future more It’s more encouraging than we expect. And there are several good reasons for Covid’s optimism.
As the percentage of Americans aged 12 and over who have been vaccinated at least once reaches 76%, as the number of mandatory vaccinations increases, along with the potential for approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years. , The number of vaccinations will increase. This autumn. Almost just as important is that like half of Americans are probably already infected with the Covid virus and are immunized naturally.
Ultimately, immunity is widespread enough that another wave as large and damaging as the delta wave is impossible. “Except for the unexpected,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA Commissioner and author of a new book on Covid, Uncontrolled Spread, told me: “
Covid isn’t just one of the worst pandemics of our time. It was an unnecessarily terrible pandemic. Of the more than 700,000 Americans who died, if they chose to vaccinate, perhaps nearly 200,000 would have been saved. It’s a national tragedy.
Covid doesn’t disappear anytime soon. Many scientists believe that it will continue to circulate for years. However, vaccines can turn Covid into a manageable illness that is not much different from the flu or cold. In the last few weeks, the country seems to be approaching its less harsh future.
Whatever this fall brings, the worst pandemic is almost certainly behind us.
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Beatles in the classroom
Do you want to get a master’s degree from The Beatles? In the band’s hometown, the graduate program aims to turn fans into Fabfor heritage students by studying sociological, historical, and economic implications.
When the new semester began at the University of Liverpool last week, 11 enthusiastic students between the ages of 21 and 67 attended classes to begin the program. One was wearing a Yoko Ono T-shirt, Alex Marshall reported in The Times, and the other had a yellow submarine tattoo on his arm. The two named their son Jude after one of the band’s most famous songs.
Scholars have been studying the Beatles for decades, and the program is the latest example. The Beatles are a big company in the local area. A 2014 study found that Liverpool’s relationship with the band was worth more than $ 110 million annually. Tourists visit sites named after the band’s songs and venues where the group performed.
Two professional tour guides on the course said they hope the program will help attract customers. “The Liverpool tour industry is fierce,” said one.
Another student, Alexandra Mason, recently earned a law degree, but decided to change course when she heard about the Beatles course. “I didn’t really want to be a lawyer,” she said. “In my heart, I have changed from ridiculous to sublime.” — Morning writer Sanam Ya
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