How many times have we seen headlines that new COVID-19 cases were being set daily in Texas? Too many times. Texas was not the only state to set records.
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/usa/texas/ Over 32,000 new COVID-19 cases a day were reported in early January, with over 400 deaths/daily for several days over the next month. Yesterday, Texas reported no new deaths from coronavirus and only 388 new cases of the virus.
Additionally, the hospitalization rate for coronavirus-positive patients was the lowest in almost a year. Two months ago, Texas removed the state’s mandate for face masks and left that decision to local business owners.
Is that decision responsible for the sharp decline in deaths and new cases of COVID-19? Maybe it was the vigorous vaccination program in place in Texas? It is possible both are to blame!
I see fewer cars at the vaccination centers as I drive around town. Last week, I remarked to my wife that there are almost no cars in line at one popular location in SW Houston. https://www.newsmax.com/us/texas-biden-abbott-neanderthal/2021/05/17/id/1021713/
Vaccine Statistics – U.S. and Texas
https://usafacts.org/visualizations/covid-vaccine-tracker-states/ Vaccines have reduced the numbers of new coronavirus cases as well as the daily deaths from COVID-19. It is hard to argue that fact.
Forty-eight percent of Americans (nearly 160 million) have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and almost thirty-eight percent (nearly 124 million) have both doses. The trend is constantly upward at the same rate for people having two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. The two-shot trend line is still rising, but not at the same rate as the one-shot trend.
Forty-one percent of Texans have received one shot, and thirty-two percent have completed the two-shot series.
Hospitalizations – Texas
https://www.tmc.edu/coronavirus-updates/tmc-daily-new-covid-19-hospitalizations/ The Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, shows a downward trend line in admissions for COVID-19 since January 2021. Earlier this year, the hospital system was averaging (seven-day rolling average) over 300 new coronavirus patients daily for a month. Last week, the daily average admissions for COVID-19 was seventy-nine.
The Effective Reproduction Rate for the greater Houston area has been less than 1.0 for the past 18 days. This means that the virus growth is slowing, and the average number of people infected by the virus is less than one.
The positive test rate for COVID-19 is under five percent and has been for the past two weeks. Ninety-eight percent of ICU hospital beds are occupied. Twelve percent (160) are COVID-19 patients.
Predictions for Herd Immunity
https://www.the-scientist.com/features/why-r0-is-problematic-for-predicting-covid-19-spread-67690. R0 (R-naught) is a number that represents the average number of people a single infected person can infect. For example, when the R0 is 2.5, it is expected that an infected person can infect between two and three other people. They would do the same – spread the disease exponentially.
When a virus, like SARS-CoV-2, enters an unexposed population, an R0 over one can cause an epidemic or pandemic. We have seen these situations with Saudi Arabia’s MERS epidemic in 2014 and the West African Ebola shortly after that.
R0 addresses what one person could do, on average, to unprotected people. The keyword is – average. Isolated communities would be better protected than large cities. Regardless, personal protections, vaccinations, viral variants, treatment options, and more can change the local R0.
A couple of months ago, India had around 11,000 new COVID-19 cases reported daily – down from a high of about 92,000 in September 2020. It seemed things were safe. Within 60 days, over 350,000 new coronavirus cases were seen daily, with deaths over 4,000 each day compared to around 100 per day two months ago.
Something happened! What? Some of the spread can be explained by increases in social gatherings. Viral variants might be added to the equation. However, maybe the elephant in the room is that the vaccination rollout did not effectively contain the spread. Hospital inadequacy compounded the situation.
In the United States, the infection rate appears to be receding. Vaccines are plentiful. Social gatherings have been controlled. Viral variants occur everywhere, and vaccines are generally effective.
The SARS-CoV-2 began in early 2020 with a published R0 of 2.5. A week later, other epidemiologists calculated R0 between 1.4 and 4.0. An accurate R0 allows scientists to plan controls to counter the spread of disease – lockdowns, hospital beds, ventilators, second and third surges, and more.
R0 is tricky. In northern England, it may be 2.8, and in southern Israel, it might be 1.9. Medical authorities use models to predict the spread based on the R0. The more accurate it is, the better response can be planned. Models are models, and they are only as good as the data and programming. What worked for MERS or SARS might work well for COVID-19.
Once the spread of a disease has been studied, the initial R0, basic reproduction number, is usually replaced with the effective reproduction number, Re, which accounts for the actions taken to control the infection rate.
When Re remains above 1.0, the disease continues to infect others. I mentioned the Effective Reproduction Rate for the greater Houston area being less than one for the past 18 days. This means that controls are working, and the disease is not growing.
I am super happy to see the pandemic statistics continue to dwindle. Controls are working – whether those controls are state mandates or business owner decisions.
When you add ten percent of the U. S. population who has survived the virus to the numbers vaccinated, the door of herd immunity is nearby. My forecast for herd immunity in the United States has been September 2021. I published this same date several times. It is the middle of May, with four months to go. I hope I am wrong, and we achieve a level of herd immunity sooner.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com