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Pandemic situation on three charts

Public discussions about “herd immunity” often treat it like an on / off switch. The crisis ends when the United States reaches herd immunity. Until then, the country has little immunity from Covid-19.

But that’s not true.

Herd immunity is like a dimmer. The more people who develop immunity due to infection or vaccination, the less likely it is that the virus will spread.

According to data scientist Youyang Gu, nearly 30% of Americans are infected with the virus (including those who have never taken the Covid test). About 18% have been vaccinated at least once.These two groups, that is Currently, about 40% of Americans have some protection from Covid.

If these people were exposed to the virus a year ago, they could have been infected and then spread Covid to others. Many people are protected today.

“This level of herd immunity delays infection,” the Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist, Caitlin Rivers, wrote in the Washington Post. From new people who get infected. “

The pandemic is still a long way off. Also, the combination of dangerous behavior and new viral variants can make the situation worse again. Experts are particularly worried that some states will lift mask obligations and limit indoor meetings. However, the tendency of the virus is improving, mainly due to elevated immune levels.

When I last gave an overview of the situation in the United States two weeks ago, a combination of positive trends (decreased deaths in nursing homes and encouragement of vaccine news) and negative trends (increased cases and decreased vaccinations). Was emphasized. Most of the news continues, but there is no bad news. Below is a new update with the help of three charts.

It was natural to wonder if more infectious virus variants were on the verge of a national surge when new cases began to increase last month, but it wasn’t. Looking back, the increase in February looks like a moment.

As you can see from the graph, there is a caveat that the recent decline is much more modest than most of the January and February declines. The reason is not entirely clear and variants may play a role. Either way, that’s something else. Indicates that the pandemic is not on the verge of end.

The current pace is not impressive for a long time. By the end of the month, the federal government will receive an average of more than 3 million daily doses from Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer. At that point, it’s 3 million times. Daily shots are a wiser goal.

How quickly the Biden administration and the state government can get there will help determine how many lives will be saved and how quickly normal lives will return.

It’s a good idea to keep in mind two different ideas about variants at the same time. First, one or more variants can cause terrible problems. It can be highly contagious, re-infect people who are already infected with Covid, or cause more serious symptoms. For example, a UK study published yesterday found that the B.1.1.7 variant increases the risk of death in unvaccinated people.

But this is the second idea. So far, the overall evidence for the subspecies has been more promising than many would have expected. The vaccine virtually eliminates hospitalization and death in people infected with the variant. Reinfection does not seem to be widespread. The variants are more contagious and do not cause the surges that were possible a few weeks ago.

In Florida, where B.1.1.7 is widespread, “there are no signs of an increase in the number of cases.” Dr. Eric Topol According to a Scripps Research article, cases are still plummeting in South Africa, where the B.1.351 variant was first detected.

According to the Financial Times, this is a remarkable decline given this variant. One of the reasons seems to be the increase in innate immunity. Increased vaccination has also helped. The same applies to the restrictions imposed by South Africa in late December and January. Bloomberg explained that it includes “a ban on the sale of alcohol, closure of all borders and most beaches, and an extension of the curfew.”

The situation in South Africa also serves as a useful summary of where the United States stands. While innate immunity has become an important force in delaying pandemics, government policies can still make a big difference by accelerating vaccination and discouraging unnecessarily dangerous behavior.

The crisis continues with an additional 12,000 Americans dying from Covid last week.

Other virus news:

  • The United States plans to purchase another 100 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines. It may be used to inoculate children, if FDA permits.

  • The Biden administration has relaxed guidelines for visiting nursing homes. The advice recommends outdoor visits, but states that “responsible indoor visits” should be allowed.

10 years later: In 2011, the tsunami destroyed the village of Kesen in Japan, and residents realized that the emptiness would last forever.

From the opinion: The Times editorial board argues that filibuster must go in order for American democracy to survive.

Live live: live In 1994, the thief stole Edvard Munch’s masterpiece “Cry” from the National Gallery in Oslo. Three months later, he was returned, largely thanks to the efforts of Scotland Yard detective Charles Hill. Hill died at the age of 73.

Last month, someone bought an animated GIF of a flying cat for over $ 500,000. A short video of artist Beeple cost about $ 7 million. Anyone can view or share the clip. So what’s the point of owning a clip?

It may not make sense for everyone — and there is a bubble element. It mainly comes down to the very expensive bragging rights and the possibility of reselling it for more money.

These rights are known as NFTs and stand for “non-fungible tokens”. “It seems weird to do it for something purely digital that can be easily copied and shared on the Internet,” said Times tech reporter Erin Griffith, who wrote about trends. “But the popularity of NFTs is , Shows that people are willing to pay for special and rare collector’s items. “

This technology has made it easier for artists, musicians and sports franchises to make money from digital products. The NBA recently introduced a series of NFTs, Top Shots, that turn highlight clips into trading cards. In music, it’s Kings of Leon’s latest album. This is NFT.

Yesterday’s spelling bee pangram Handbook.. This is today’s puzzle — or you can play it online.

Here are today’s mini crosswords and clues: pops (3 letters).

If you feel like playing more, find all the games here.


Thank you for spending part of the morning at the Times. see you tomorrow. — David

Senate PS recognized Janet Reno as the first female Attorney General in the United States today, 28 years ago. A Times article quotes a Delaware senator praising her.

You can see the front page of today’s printed matter here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the similarities between Diana and Megan. In “Sway,” Spike Lee talks about his film.

Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. themorning@nytimes.com..

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