Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
The COVID-19 virus continues to spread at a fast pace nationwide. Cases are rising in nearly every state, but the Northeast and Midwest have been especially hard hit. Most of that increase can be attributed to the Omicron variant BA.2.12.1. The variant was first identified in New York and is highly transmissible. While the Omicron variants are not resulting in illnesses as serious as those produced by the Delta variant, hospitalizations are increasing. The number of patients in American hospitals with coronavirus has risen by 20 percent in the past two weeks.
While 1 million people have died in the United States, the 300 deaths per day on average now are far less than the 2,600 per day with Delta.
Globally, WHO estimates 15 million more people have died than in normal years during this pandemic. The European Union is loosening restrictions and China is tightening them. North Korea has reported its first case.
In this week’s video, I spend some time on the comparison of the United States to Australia. Australia’s COVID death rate is one-tenth of America’s. The countries have their similarities – both are English-speaking democracies and more than 80 percent of their populations live in urban settings. Australia did a better job earlier in the pandemic when the virus was most virulent. The country restricted travel and personal interaction until vaccinations were widely available. They put a high priority on people who were most vulnerable and only after they reached a majority of vaccinated people did they gradually open up the country again.
What Australians did that we have had trouble doing, is they maintained a public belief in science and their institutions. It is important that we learn from the experiences of all nations as we prepare for the future.
Hope you have a great weekend. Be safe.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO