Over the last six weeks, new cases of infection of the coronavirus have dropped an astonishing 77 percent. Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and observes: “If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill.”
Has the number of infections really dropped by 77 percent in 6 weeks?
According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, there were 283,640 new cases on January 2, 2021. As of February 17, there were 69,165 cases. That represents a drop of 75.05 percent in six weeks — for all you fact-checkers out there.
But Makary points out that the vaccine hasn’t been totally responsible for the drop. He makes a strong case that “natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing.”
Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.
Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.
Makary is predicting “herd immunity” by April. He realizes that herd immunity is a loaded political phrase, but he’s got the evidence to back it up.
Many experts, along with politicians and journalists, are afraid to talk about herd immunity. The term has political overtones because some suggested the U.S. simply let Covid rip to achieve herd immunity. That was a reckless idea. But herd immunity is the inevitable result of viral spread and vaccination. When the chain of virus transmission has been broken in multiple places, it’s harder for it to spread—and that includes the new strains.
Herd immunity has been well-documented in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where researchers in the Lancet reported the prevalence of prior Covid-19 infection to be 76%, resulting in a significant slowing of the infection. Doctors are watching a new strain that threatens to evade prior immunity. But countries where new variants have emerged, such as the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, are also seeing significant declines in daily new cases.
Herd immunity was an impractical idea, both morally and politically. But when lockdowns proved not to be the answer to controlling the pandemic, they should have been abandoned for some other, less damaging solution. With 20 million Americans still unemployed and the fallout from the lockdowns yet to work its way through the economy, certainly, there could have been less catastrophic solutions.
More good news on the vaccine front as it appears that the Pfizer vaccine is 93 percent effective after only one dose. Not only that, but both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be stored in ordinary refrigerators with no loss in potency.
Meanwhile, studies of both the Pfizer and Moderna jabs are saying the vaccines are working significantly better than expected, so much so that they’re suggesting ditching the two-dose regimen in order to get more people vaccinated faster. Pfizer, for instance, says the vaccine is 93 percent effective in one dose but only 94 percent effective if taken twice. If this holds up, it’s a massive game-changer that effectively doubles vaccine availability. Also, the J&J vaccine is expected to be approved shortly after a February 26 FDA meeting to discuss the data it has generated.
All this good news and politicians are still acting as if this is a crisis that demands immediate action and compliance with all restrictions. Is Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill still necessary? Should schools still be closed? Should restaurants and bars be allowed to open without limits?
Politicians and bureaucrats love crises because people get scared enough to hand them the keys to the kingdom. And if we leave it to them to determine when the crisis is over, they will find some excuse to keep the hammer down.
It’s time we start demanding an end to lockdowns, restrictions, and the thousands of rules and regulations issued for our “guidance” during the crisis. It seems a little peaceful civil disobedience is in order.