A bit of scientific brooding over Covid’s statistical tea leaves tells us that the chances of getting long Covid if you’re fully vaccinated are probably small.
But with the emphasis on probably.
Was anyone other than me worried? After all, the statistics tell us that a vaccinated person who does catch Covid will probably have a mild case. Unfortunately, though, mild cases fairly often leave people with long Covid.
So far, the information that’s coming in is anecdotal, and the experts say that it’s too early to be certain. In six months, it’s possible that a significant number of vaccinated people will start showing up with long Covid. It’s also possible that they won’t.
So stay tuned. That’s not the reassurance I was hoping for but it’s the best we’ve got.
Do young people have Get out of Covid Free cards?
By now, we all know that young people are unlikely to get seriously frightening cases of Covid, at least when compared with old coots.
But that doesn’t mean they’re immune. Like anyone else, they’re liable to come down with long Covid even after a mild case of the virus, and the small number who are sick enough to be hospitalized are almost as likely to have organ damage as the old coots are–almost 4 out of 10 of them.
The message here is that Covid is not the flu. And that young people don’t have a free pass on this.
Young, by the way, is defined as anywhere between 19 and 50. Which from where I stand looks younger all the time.
Taking quarantine seriously
Australia and China have decided that the new Covid variants are too contagious for hotel quarantine to be safe. They’re planning special quarantine centers.
Compare that with the way Britain’s treated quarantine, which ranges on the strict end from hotel quarantine after sharing air with passengers who won’t be quarantining to, on the loose end, go home and look in the other direction when you pass other people on your way there.
The Covid news from Britain
Over twelve hundred scientists from around the world have signed a letter objecting to Boris Johnson’s policy of lifting all Covid restrictions on July 19. It will, they say, help spread the Delta variant around the world.
As professor Christina Pagel put it, “Because of our position as a global travel hub, any variant that becomes dominant in the UK will likely spread to the rest of the world. . . . UK policy doesn’t just affect us–it affects everybody. . . .
“What I’m most worried about is the potential for a new variant to emerge this summer. When you have incredibly high levels of Covid, which we have now in England–and it’s not going to go away any time soon–and a partially vaccinated population, any mutation that can infect vaccinated people better has a big selection advantage and can spread.”
Some of the experts described the policy as “murderous” and “herd immunity by mass infection.” The words unscientific and unethical also came up. If you pay careful attention, you’ll come away with the impression that they’re pretty pissed off. Not to mention scared.
In the meantime, the number of people hospitalized with Covid in Britain is doubling about every three weeks and could reach what England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, called “quite scary numbers.” Soon.
The government’s been telling us that vaccination has uncoupled the train car of hospitalizations from the accelerating engine of Covid cases. The problem is that they watched too many westerns when they were young, and uncoupling the cars from a runaway engine solved any problem involving railroads.
Unfortunately, this is a pandemic, not a train. Or a western.
More cautious voices say they’ve weakened the link between Covid cases and hospitalization, but not uncoupled it.
On Friday of last week, we had 50,000 cases, which is the highest number since January. And 49 Covid deaths.
Office for National Statistics data suggests that 1 in 95 people in England had Covid last week. I’m not sure why it only suggests that, but I’ve learned not to mess with the wording of things I don’t understand.
The health secretary, Sajid Javid, is one of those new cases. He just came down with Covid. After having visited a care home earlier in the week–a visit that I’d guess was more pr and photo op than anything necessary.
He’s fully vaccinated and says his symptoms are mild. He’s now self-isolating. No word on how things are going at the care home.
So what about Britain’s world-beating Covid tracing app?
Well, it’s been pinging a lot of people and telling them they’ve been exposed to Covid. That means they should self-isolate. Which means they should miss work. Which means the places they work, a lot fo which are already short on staff, are shorter on staff.
Which means no one’s in a good mood.
There was talk–quite definite-sounding talk–about dialing down the app’s sensitivity. People were uninstallling it, the government said, so as not to be bothered by its nagging. It was too sensitive, they said. The number of people pinged had grown by almost 50% in a week, to over 500,000. Transportation, trash collection, and health care were being affected, along with meat processing and car manufacturing.
Then there was talk about not dialing down its sensitivity. It wasn’t too sensitive. The number of cases had grown, so of course the number of people exposed to Covid had grown right along with it.
So, the government mumbled to itself, what if we say that people who’ve had both their vaccinations are exempt from having to isolate themselves? They’ll get pinged, but they’ll be able to work?
Last I heard, it hadn’t answered the question and was still mumbling. In other words, it’s taken the worst elements of both choices: It’s changed nothing but called the usefulness of the app into question and by saying lots of people are uninstalling it, it’s encouraged people to uninstall it.