There’s something in the air this week. Can you feel it?
It’s not just the super-duper scary Delta variant — it’s the rising consternation of Americans who are being told that, despite the willingness of millions to submit themselves to the novel COVID-19 vaccine so life could “get back to normal,” they’re now being told they need to mask up, regardless of vaccination status, even at home around their own children — some of whom may even be diving into yet another semester of distance learning, if things keep up, all thanks to said Delta variant.
While COVID-19 cases have indeed risen in the U.S. in recent weeks, which is being blamed on Delta, there’s a good chance that the media and health officials may be blowing its long-term impact on daily life out of proportion. Shocking — I know.
According to the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, the Delta variant may actually be more widespread than is being reported, but this could signal that hope is right around the corner.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb explained while speaking with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he believes we are “much further” into the resurgence of COVID-19 than we realize, but, based on the trajectory seen in the United Kingdom just a few weeks ago, we might just have a few more weeks ourselves before cases once again decline.
“I believe there’s more virus than we’re picking up right now,” he said, noting that cases detected by at-home antigen tests or infections among younger Americans who might be asymptomatic won’t show up in government data.
“If you look at the U.K. in the last seven days, they do appear to be turning the corner,” Gottlieb explained.
He said that while it’s “unclear” if this downward trajectory is going to be sustained as the U.K. only recently lifted mitigation measures that were previously in place, if our friends across the pond are any indication, “we are perhaps further into this epidemic and hopefully going to turn a corner in the next two or maybe three weeks.”
He repeated his prediction for CNBC’s Squawk Box later in the week while discussing transmission between and mask guidance for vaccinated individuals.
“The bottom line is, the vaccine does not make you impervious to infection,” Gottlieb explained. “There are some people who are developing mild and asymptomatic infections even after vaccination.”
Although the Delta variant is indeed “much more transmissible” than the previous strain, Gottlieb said, and vaccinated individuals should still consider wearing masks, particularly around the vulnerable, he also noted that this shouldn’t necessarily “translate into general guidance” for mask-wearing and vaccine requirements.
“I don’t think we’re going to get enough bang for our buck by telling vaccinated people they have to wear masks at all times to make it worth our while,” he said. “I think we’re further into this Delta wave than we’re picking up. I think in another two or three weeks we’ll be through this.”
"If you are vaccinated in a high prevalence area, in contact with virus, you think you might have the virus because you have mild symptoms–be prudent, get tested, maybe wear a mask especially if you are around a vulnerable person," says @ScottGottliebMD. pic.twitter.com/LFlMffkfe9
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) July 28, 2021
It’s also worth noting that “this,” i.e. a resurgence of COVID-19 cases as compared to previous months, isn’t anywhere near as scary as the Chicken Little state and media establishments seem to want us to believe.
While cases are indeed rising, deaths due to COVID-19 remain at a 16-month low, as Harvard Medical School professor Martin Kulldorff recently tweeted.
In USA, #COVID mortality is now the lowest since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. pic.twitter.com/bc3zRxIAiO
— Martin Kulldorff (@MartinKulldorff) July 28, 2021
No one wants to hear about packed ICUs or young people on ventilators, and there is not a single life in this nation that needs to be reduced to a mere statistic.
But since, pragmatically, the statistics are both what public health guidance should be based on and what we’re told it is based on, it’s pretty safe to conclude that there simply may not be a reason to panic.
Certainly, there’s no telling what the next few weeks will bring, and Gottlieb was merely making predictions based on the trajectory of cases in a different country than our own.
If we can look at declining case rates in the U.K. as an indication that we may see the same trajectory here at home, perhaps we should also look to their “keep calm and carry on” attitude when it comes to examining the data.
But will Americans keep calm as officials seem ready to send us into a new wave of lockdowns and school closures? That, just like the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, remains to be seen.