Anthony S. Fauci, Biden, Biden administration, CCP Virus, CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus, COVID 19, hospitalization, Im-Politic, Omicron variant, vaccination, vaccines, Wuhan virus
I was struck by the statement made by Anthony S. Fauci on Tuesday that the Omicron variant of the CCP Virus is so hyper-infectious that it will “ultimately find just about everybody.” I wasn’t struck by the words of President Biden’s chief medical adviser because Omicron has found me healthwise. Instead, I was struck because the pandemic keeps finding my blogging – even when I don’t intend to write about it.
And so it’s been today. I started out planning to post an item about the Ukraine crisis and globalization (which I will definitely turn to), but Mr. Biden’s latest virus-related remarks have jerked me right back to the pandemic. Specifically responsible was his claim that unless many more Americans become fully vaccinated, Omicron’s rapid spread will mean that the nation’s hospitals will be crowded with resisters who contract unusually severe cases, leaving “little room for anyone else who might have a heart attack or an injury in an automobile accident or any injury at all.”
This point makes perfect sense. Even if Omicron’s effects are relatively mild for most victims, if the absolute numbers of cases are high enough, even a relatively small percentage of infections serious enough to require hospitalization would be enough to overwhelm the hospital system. And if, as Mr. Biden and so many others insist, the overwhelming majority of those hospitalized are unvaccinated individuals, then the case for mandatory vaccination would look open and shut.
But to use one of the President’s favorite phrases, “Here’s the deal.” Even if every American was fully vaxxed and boosted, if Fauci is right about Omicron’s eventual reach, then the hospital system will get overwhelmed anyway. Just do the math.
The whole U.S. population is a little above 330,000,000. If everyone gets Omicron, that’s 330,000,000 cases. How many are resulting in hospitalizations? The President says that unvaccinated Americans are “seventeen times more likely to get hospitalized” from the CCP Virus than the vaxxed.
This figure seems to come from the latest data kept by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which finds that for every 100,000 American adults, 67.8 “Covid-19-Associated Hospitalizations” take place each week, versus a rate of only 3.9 hospitalizations for the fully vaccinated. That’s a big difference. But if you project those numbers out to the full 330,000,000 population rather than a sample of 100,000, you get 12,870 fully vaxxed hospitalizations each week.
That figure is a lot smaller than the number of “staffed (operational) acute care beds” in America (534,964, according to the latest count from the American Hospital Association). It’s also a lot smaller than the number of intensive care unit beds (96,5960).
But all by itself, it seems to be enough greatly to stress the heathcare system, given that (as the President noted), it’s got many other responsibilities; given that the 12,870 figure represents the number of new hospital patients added each week; and given that many of these fully vaxxed CCP Virus patients are going to stay hospitalized for a certain period even as new patients in this category keep coming in.
At the same time, the CDC data on fully vaxxed Covid hospital patients surely creates an understatement for one big reason: They only go up to the week of last November 20. Therefore, they predate the recording of the first U.S. Omicron case (last December 1.)
The United States still lacks comprehensive nation-wide statistics on Omicron-related hospitalizations of the fully vaxxed. But some preliminary numbers indicate that their impact on hospitals will be catastrophic. For example, for the week of last December 27 (more than a month after the latest CDC numbers but just as the first Omicron case was reported), New York State found that 4.59 out of every 100,000 city residents who had been fully vaccinated were hospitalized for the CCP Virus.
That’s a positively infintestimal number. But multiply it out by the total 330,000,000 U.S. population, and that’s more than 1.5 million virus-related hospitalizations of the fully vaxxed. And even if you doubt that these numbers would hold for the entire country (because the United States is big and diverse), a breakthrough hospitalization rate only half that high would still produce more than 750,000 such cases.
Some more recent figures are even more alarming. As of January 6, the Las Vegas, Nevada area experienced 27,205 breakthrough virus cases (e.g., number of infections of the fully vaxxed), of which 873 were hospitalized. That’s 3.21 percent. Ohio’s official Covid-19 dashboard says that of 53,819 state residents counted as “Covid-19 Hospitalizations,” since January 1, 2021, 2,991 have been fully vaccinated. That’s 5.56 percent.
According to this January 6 post, in Connecticut, “The overall percentage of fully vaccinated people hospitalized with COVID has also risen to 32 percent, from about 20 percent early last week.”
Massachusetts has reported that as of early January, the state’s hospitals were treating 2,970 patients with confirmed cases of the CCP Virus. Of these, 1,348 were fully vaccinated. That’s more than 45 percent!
In fact, once again, if these numbers are too high by a factor of two, they still add up to overwhelmed hospital systems.
Help is on the way in the form of recently approved treatments (though it looks like due to Biden administration shortsightedness or caution, they’ll be kind of scarce for several months), and in the distinct possibilities that the Omicron wave will crest sooner rather than later, and that follow-on virus strains will be even less virulent. What’s more certain is that Omicron is making a complete – and unnecessarily divisive – mockery of Mr. Biden’s continuing “pandemic of the unvaccinated” claims.
I am double Jabbed but still remain very cautious in going out.
Alan Tonelson said:
Belated thanks, Bill. I’m vaxxed & boosted, too. Because I’m 68 and have some particular vulnerabilities. But I’m not going out much because there are almost no new movies I want to see and I have no interest in sitting masked for several hours in a train or plane in order to take a vacation – not out of any undue caution. Since we’re not (and haven’t been since the very early stages when no one new anything) talking about something like the Black Death, I’ve seen no need for all th sweeping restrictions for the general public, as opposed to those at greatest risk. Similarly, we were doing a fair amount of indoor dining in restaurants pre-Omicron but now that the weather’s turned so cold, we’d just as soon take out.
We had an advantage earlier insofar as vaccination meant the virus had nowhere to go and couldn’t spread. However, our lack of diligence instead allowed the virus to mutate into one that frequently spreads, regardless of vaccination status. All we need now is a variant of Omicron that kills its victims, and we’re done.
Alan Tonelson said:
Thanks, Jack, but with the (highly infectious) Delta strain having already appeared in the US by last March, and none of the vaccines even widely available (butno yet distributed) just two months earlier, I don’t see how much of a vaccination advantage was squandered. Unless you think that all 330 million Americans – or even the highly vulnerable populations – could have been fully vaxxed by early spring?