Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
Take a deep breath. We will get through this. It seems like the main concerns out there now concerning COVID-19 deal with breakthrough infections, children and school openings, boosters, and the Delta variant.
The U.S. is now seeing 100,000 new cases a day. Delta is the dominant virus and is very different from the original virus, specifically three or four times more transmissible. The vaccines are effective against Delta, especially in preventing severe illness. The pace of vaccination has started to trend upward. Deaths have so far been increasing more slowly than cases, partly because 80% of Americans 65 and older – the most vulnerable group – have been fully vaccinated. More employers are requiring that all their employees be vaccinated, and many colleges are mandating vaccinations. About half of all the U.S. is fully vaccinated.
In looking at the U.S. map, the risk levels are mostly high, very high or extremely high. If you are wondering when this is going to end, there are two projections on the peak for this wave – one is mid-August and the other is mid-September. Texas numbers are increasing as are those in the Texas Medical Center. The weekly average of TMC daily new COVID-19 hospitalizations is 320, compared to about 50 a day a month ago.
More studies are coming out on breakthrough cases. In general, most breakthrough cases do not result in hospitalization or death, and those considered immunocompromised or who have co-morbidities are at highest risk. The good news is the FDA has just approved boosters for those who are immunocompromised, which will provide them with additional protection.
Plenty more on breakthrough infections, pediatric cases and the Delta variant are in this week’s video. To be clear, unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern. The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to contract, and therefore transmit, the virus. It is good to remember that the virus determines what our response should be. It does not consider politics, religion or personal views. The scientists who are studying the virus are best able to define our battle plan.
Please join in congratulating Raymond Martin, a first-year physician assistant student, who qualified for the Paralympics this month. We are so proud of him and wish him much success. I hope you will take time to learn more about Raymond and his success in wheelchair racing since age 5.
Stay safe. Have a good weekend.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO