The @jburnmurdoch FT graph of COVID deaths is set to become the Minard-“1812”-graph of the COVID pandemic. This is our reality folks. In the week ending January 27 2022, there were on average 8610 officially recognized COVID deaths per day, of which 2267 were in the USA. A similar number died across Europe (EU and non-EU). Those are staggering numbers.
Anybody who says “the pandemic is over!” is literally talking out of their backside
Yes, I know, there are daily OpEds saying “it’s over,” but these are always written by wealthy, boosted, healthy people at very low risk https://t.co/0yJfkoAH44
— Prof. Gavin Yamey MD MPH (@GYamey) February 1, 2022
As we debate whether the pandemic will soon be reclassified as endemic it is important to realize that this does not mean we are sounding the all-clear. As this excellent piece in Nature points out, smallpox was endemic until it was eradicated.
In December, the World Health Assembly began debating a new pandemic preparedness treaty. Health Ministers from 30 countries signed an appeal in the BMJ for more serious preparation. It may yield an agreement ready for adoption by 2024.
As for our current situation, the big story for 2021 was the staggering success of the vaccine production drive. 11 billion vaccine doses were delivered in 2021, 1.5 billion in December 2021 alone. Production may double again to 20 billion in 2022. Of course, it would have been even better to have had more, even faster. But this is a prodigious feat of science and industry. The European Center for Disease Control estimates the lives saved among people over 60 years of age to be 470,000. For the US, the figure is 1.1 million.
The vaccines are crucial even if they are not 100 percent effective against Omicron-style variants.
The primary purpose of vaccines is to prevent disease. The vaccines do this.
The vaccines don’t prevent transmission entirely but they do significantly reduce it. With a booster, VE against infection is approaching 70%. So this is entirely wrong. https://t.co/a6v36e5OF3
— Dr. Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen) January 25, 2022
But the tragedy is that costs, effectiveness and access vary hugely. The cost of the BioNTech/Pfizer gold standard is 20 euros per dose compared to 4 for AstraZeneca, which is the most widely used vaccine in the world, along with the Chinese Coronavac, with over 2 billion doses each.
And different costs are just part of the problem. The disaster, it is not too strong a word, is the gross maldistribution of vaccines.
This takes three forms. Within rich countries, there is a continuing issue of the failure to protect lowest income workers. A complex issue with many factors at play.
We need a US pandemic policy response that centers equity
Low-income people most affected throughout the pandemic
We need to make vaccines, N95s, & tests *most* accessible to low-income communities most affected by the pandemic pic.twitter.com/mJwOXQ4b8I
— Julia Raifman (@JuliaRaifman) January 31, 2022
There is a failure to deliver vaccines in a timely fashion to the most affected areas of the world. This includes the hot spots in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Read more..