Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
I am feeling really good about where we are headed in the COVID pandemic. Numbers in the United States, Texas and the Houston area are all going in the right direction. By next week, we should be able to loosen restrictions. Of course, there is always the caveat that this applies to fully vaccinated people. The vaccines have been incredibly effective.
Worldwide, there are still some areas that are not doing well – Russia, Australia and many parts of Europe continue to have high case numbers. The pandemic is not over and we cannot be sure another variant will surface in the fall, but for now, it looks good for us.
In this week’s video, I go through the numbers and update you on what the impact of the pandemic has been in the United States. As of Feb. 28, deaths attributed to COVID-19 on death certificates in the U.S. totaled 940,760. It is estimated the number of deaths related to COVID is over 1 million in our country. We are coming out of this, but the impact has been brutal.
I review two interesting science papers this week, both concerning the origins of the virus. It appears the earliest known COVID-19 cases were geographically distributed near to, and centered on, a wet market in Wuhan. The report was the work of 20 American and European laboratories. The other study reports that the SARS-CoV-2 emergence very likely resulted from at least two zoonotic events, meaning there were at least two separate cross-species transmission events in animals before transmission to humans.
On the vaccine front, the result of a vaccine effectiveness study showed that Pfizer had disappointing results in children ages 5 to 11 years old. This is likely a dosage issue. For 12-17 year olds, the effectiveness was 68 percent (dose of 30 micrograms); for 5-11, the effectiveness was 12 percent (a dose of 10 micrograms).