Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
While COVID case numbers and hospitalizations continue to look good in our area, I am expecting we will see a surge in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, not a big one, but I think we will see a definite uptick. We usually follow Europe by a few weeks and this is what we have seen there.
In this week’s video, I review the situation in some areas of the world. China is having a surge, but is still nowhere near the numbers we have seen in the United States. Africa is largely unvaccinated, but the death rates have been low. A recent report showed the confirmed death toll in Africa was 252,000, while the U.S. has seen almost 1 million deaths. There are two main reasons for this – Africa’s population is young: 42 percent of the population is under 15 and just 3 percent are 65 or older. In addition, the underlying conditions that make COVID more lethal – obesity, diabetes and hypertension – are uncommon in Africa.
The U.S. has seen some recent outbreaks. The annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington, D.C. was held on April 2, with about 700 attendees. Those attending were required to show proof of vaccination but not a negative test result, and face masks were not required during the program. At least 72 people have tested positive for COVID since attending. Some universities are reinstating face mask mandates. This likely is a temporary spike following Spring Break travels.
The Omicron XE variant is emerging in the UK, with a few cases here. The important thing about this variant is that it is a recombinant variant – not the product of a mutation of a previous variant. I also review a report on the effectiveness of a second booster (fourth shot). It is not that effective and protection is only a few weeks. It seems like the better course would be a vaccine specifically aimed at Omicron.
Lots of shout outs this week and many people are celebrating the beginning of Passover and Easter this weekend. I hope you have an great weekend and that you stay safe.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO