Good News from Your Local Epidemiologist

Dr. Katelyn Jetelina’s latest post on her blog “Your Local Epidemiologist” provides some much-needed hope amid the current Omicron surge. Dr. Jetelina points out that the COVID-19 vaccine has been extremely effective, per an article published by The Commonwealth Fund that analyzed the impact of the vaccine program in the United States one year after its inception. The Commonwealth Fund found that over one million deaths were prevented due to the vaccine. Additionally, the vaccine prevented over ten million additional COVID-19 hospitalizations. Dr. Jetelina explains how we achieved this:

“How did we do this? It’s because Americans got their vaccine in 9 months, which shattered all time records for development of previous vaccines. But speed didn’t mean it was rushed. It meant leveraging a whole lot of smart people, money, and decades of previous work to get us a vaccine in 9 months. (I talked about all of these things in a previous post here.) It also meant that more than 500,000 people volunteered to test the vaccine. They raised their hands to volunteer in clinical trials in which a new biotechnology was being tested that was never before authorized. They also had the chance of getting a placebo. Most of these people stayed in the trial, even after they could have had the placebo. People from 6 months old to the elderly participated. From all different backgrounds. And those neighbors of ours are a key reason we are saving so many lives right now. This couldn’t have been done without each and every one of them.”

Dr. Jetelina’s post also includes some reassuring information about the Omicron variant. She notes that the Omicron variant appears to be less severe than other variants in terms of symptoms, with significantly less reported hospitalizations and ventilators needed. Also, the booster vaccines are proving to be considerably effective against the Omicron variant. Another encouraging development is the new antiviral pill created by Pfizer. High-risk individuals are currently receiving this antiviral, and the results are promising. 

Even during this overwhelming swell of cases, there is reason to remain hopeful. Dr. Jetelina concludes her post: “Although we are in crisis mode right now, our tools are working and help is on the way. Every epi curve comes down. This one will too. Don’t take Omicron lightly, but don’t lose hope either.”