S started coughing three nights ago. It was kind of a nasty cough, interspersed with nasty sounding breathing. Croupy breathing, I’d call it, and my first thought was croup, along with a stomach-dropping fear that it might be Covid. In any case, it disappeared during the day and worsened the next night – classic croup symptoms – so I took her in. Going with a sick child for medical care is just not fun these days, with all the Covid protocols and medical practitioners dressed like Darth Vader. I noticed, however, that the nurse was only wearing a surgical mask (plus face shield and coverall and gloves). The doctor wore an N95 but no shield. Why the discrepancy? Shouldn’t there be standard guidelines for what to wear? Their patient exposure in an urgent care setting is similar. Seeing potential Covid patients all day long must be stressful.
In any case, the doctor said it was, in fact, mild croup. He gave me some advice for how to treat and was about to disappear on his way, when I was like, Um, should we test for Covid? He was basically like, Why not? I don’t usually recommend for children not in daycare who are low risk, but it doesn’t hurt. I thought that was a little odd, but whatever. The nurse came back and gave her a PCR test. She informed me that they didn’t do rapid tests, and the result would take 1 to 3 days. In fact, it took about 36 hours, which isn’t bad, but again, I thought this was odd. A lot of people testing out of an excess of caution, especially vaccinated people, will be reluctant to skip work for three days for something that’s probably not Covid. Why no rapid tests?
Thankfully, it’s not Covid. But it’s been a long week. Last night (night 4) was better but still not what I’d call restful. I think she’s turned the corner, though, and tonight should be better.
In other Covid news, I saw this article in the NYT today about how kids in the UK don’t wear masks to school.
New South Wales has officially thrown in the towel and given up on 0 Covid. They will start giving vaccinated people more freedoms from September. Believe it or not, for high risk areas, this means that a household can gather outside, without anyone else from outside their household, rather than just staying in their apartment all day long. I feel for people living there with kids.
I think it’s really interesting to look at the R0 numbers. (See above plot.) The lockdown clearly had an impact, and within one to two weeks pulled R0 from an average of around 4 down to just above 1. Since then, excepting one blip, R0 has been between 1 and 1.5. But they just can’t get it below 1! So close, yet so far. This is the power of Delta. If it were Alpha, they’d have been able to get it just that little bit lower below one, and they’d be trying to stamp out those last cases right now. Instead, they’ve hit 1000 cases per day (at peak) in NSW. That’s not far off what we’re dealing with in Seattle, where we’re at about 80% of our highest case load ever.
On the flip side, nothing like a little Delta to light a fire under the vaccination team, and they have been vaccinating people like gangbusters in NSW. 64% of the population has had its first dose, and 35% are fully vaccinated. They are still dealing with a shortage of doses, but by October, they’ll be in great shape vaccine-wise.
What’s crazy to me is that NZ, despite locking down at the highest level, has not been able to stamp out the outbreak. They are now going to level 3 (second highest level lockdown) in some less affected places. The people in charge are still saying they’ll get 0 Covid, but I don’t know. Looking at the plots, I honestly don’t know if they will. I’d give them maybe 1:2 odds.
I’ll leave you with this study which suggests that natural immunity is more effective against Delta than vaccination. Bloomberg’s take on the study is:
People given both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were almost six-fold more likely to contract a delta infection and seven-fold more likely to have symptomatic disease than those who recovered… “This analysis demonstrated that natural immunity affords longer lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization due to the delta variant,” the researchers said… The risk of a vaccine-breakthrough delta case was 13-fold higher than the risk of developing a second infection when the original illness occurred during January or February 2021 (vs vaccinated during same timeframe).
This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, compared to the BNT162b2 two-dose vaccine-induced immunity. Individuals who were both previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 and given a single dose of the vaccine gained additional protection against the Delta variant.
I’m beginning to think that vaccine plus natural infection would be the ideal combination.