We all know that bad news travels around the world while good news is just getting dressed. The media prefers bad news because it sells more newspapers and increases television ratings. But there is good news about the pandemic despite all the negativism.
The first chart below depicts the current hospitalizations, daily new Covid cases and deaths in the U.S. averaged over seven days. The second chart shows daily new Covid-19 tests conducted and positive tests; again, a seven-day rolling average. A close analysis reveals the number of new cases peaked on January 11 at 257,927. The current number, as depicted by these charts is 70,591 – a 73 percent decline in six weeks.
The seven-day average of test positivity – a marker of virus prevalence – has dropped from over 14 percent in the first week of 2021 to 5.3 percent as of this day. On January 6, 132,464 people were hospitalized with Covid-19. For the last 40 straight days that number has declined. Today it is nearly 60 percent lower at 55,403. Deaths are also declining, although they are a lagging indicator.
There is no doubt the credit for this improvement goes to the vaccines. A year ago it was considered laughable to think we would have a vaccine just a year later. What’s more, the vaccines are 95% effective, far better than the annual flu vaccines. Credit for the vaccines goes to Operation Warp Speed and the Trump administration.
There’s more good news. One study has found that the Pfizer two-dose vaccine is up to 85 percent effective after a single dose, and it also doesn’t have to be stored at -94 degrees F, as previously believed. This greatly improves the logistics of getting the vaccine into people’s arms. A second report from Pfizer, BioNTech, and Israel’s Health Ministry found the company’s Covid-19 vaccines are 89.4 percent effective at preventing infections, which means the vaccine limits most asymptomatic transmission of the virus, too.\
According to The Dispatch, who interviewed Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the news couldn’t be much better. “The two mRNA vaccines we have been using have 95 percent efficacy against all manner of disease: mild, moderate, and severe. And they may – likely, I think, probably – reduce shedding, it just hasn’t been studied carefully. And to date in the preapproval studies, we couldn’t find any evidence for serious adverse events in tens of thousands of people. And now the vaccine has been in tens of millions of people, so you can say with some confidence that the vaccine doesn’t even cause a rare serious adverse event. So, I’d say it’s remarkable. I don’t think anybody could have predicted this a year ago.”
President Biden recently took time to honor the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths in the U.S. attributed to the pandemic. While this was certainly a solemn ceremony and an appropriate reminder of the impact of this virus on our country, it’s a shame he didn’t also mention the great progress that has been made recently. There’s definitely light at the end of this dark tunnel. Be sure to get your vaccination as soon as available.