I have flown on Delta Airlines, visited the Mississippi Delta and written my share of deltas in math class, but the only delta I care about these days is molecular.
I refer, of course, to the COVID-19 virus formerly known as B.1.617.2 or the “India variant,” now labeled with the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet. It is one of several breeds of the original SARS-CoV2 virus that have been created by the power of evolution.
“Breed” isn’t the clinical term but I find it a useful metaphor.
I think of the original COVID-19 virus as a German shepherd, not far removed from wolves lurking in the wild but sufficiently domesticated that it snuck past our defenses. There it has thrived, evolving new breeds with different strengths.
Eighteen months into the pandemic there’s a terrier COVID variant that travels much faster and never slows down, and a dachshund variant that can sneak under some of our antibody fences that keeps out bigger breeds, and a Rottweiler variant that can do a lot more damage once it gets hold of our cells.
The longer we let these live, the more breeds they’re going to produce and the more likely it is that some new breed will be really bad. Fortunately, it seems that the various vaccines can kick the brute outdoors and stop more evolution. The more people get vaccinated, the less we have to worry about the evolution of a Rottweiler-Dachsund-Terrier that will force us all back into lockdown.
Pretty good metaphor, huh? Plus, I’m told that if I write about dogs I’ll get more online clicks.
On a more serious note, things are looking better and better in New Hampshire but the spread of the delta variant should keep us from being complacent. As you probably know, Los Angeles County now suggests that people should resume wearing masks indoors even if vaccinated because of concern about easily contagious variants, and parts of Europe are girding for a fourth surge in cases, fueled mostly by the delta variant.
It’s not impossible that we’ll have to backtrack one of these weeks. We should psychologically prepare for that disappointment, just in case, even as we enjoy opening back up.
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How are we doing on vaccinations? We have, unfortunately, flattened the curve.
Very few unvaccinated people are getting protection, according to state figures: In the two weeks leading up to June 27 just 5,200 people were added to the tally of those who had gotten the first dose and 20,000 added to the “fully vaccinated” tally. At this rate we may not get to 60% of the total population being fully protected; about 54% are currently in that status.
If you’ve seen higher percentages for New Hampshire they probably referred to the percentage of eligible people – in other words, not people under age 12 – who are vaccinated.
What’s the trend on the spread and impact of the disease? Very good and staying there.
New cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all close to the level of last summer, or in some cases even slightly better. All the painful work we’ve done since March 2020, the lockdowns and masks and vaccinations and avoiding people, have paid off.