The State of COVID-19 Now – The Delta Edition

The State of COVID-19 Now – The Delta Edition

by Dr. Mao Shing Ni

As the COVID-19 virus continues to mutate, four out of five new positive cases in the US are of the Delta variant. What’s alarming is that studies have shown that Delta is producing similar amounts of viral particles in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people which is the reason that the CDC is now recommending that fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors.

Here is what we know about the Delta variant so far:
  • Delta is 50% more infectious than the Alpha strain, which was 50% more infectious than the original strain of COVID-19, and has a high rate of transmissibility that is similar to that of chickenpox.
  • Because of the Delta variant, new COVID cases have increased dramatically in the past month. In the first week of July, there were 3,911 new cases but a few days ago there were 50,997, a thirteen-fold increase in less than a month. Over the past four weeks in a hot spot area like Los Angeles County, cases increased twenty-fold, from 124 on June 21 to more than 3,000 cases last week.
  • There are an increasing number of breakthrough infections among vaccinated people that can transmit the virus to others. For example, in an outbreak involving 469 Massachusetts residents who were infected with the Delta variant in July, about 74% of the cases were reported in fully vaccinated people. Among those who were infected, over 3/4 were symptomatic although thankfully there were no deaths among them. Likewise in Los Angeles County, last week over 25% of new cases occurred among those who were vaccinated.
  • In Israel, the health ministry found that the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine dropped to 39% for the Delta variant, even though protection against severe illness remained intact, a finding which led Israel to begin administering booster shots to people over 60 years of age.

Since hitting a peak in February new COVID cases and death rates began steadily declining but because of the arrival of the Delta variant, cases began climbing again in July which leads virologists to predict that an upward trajectory in numbers is likely to continue in the near future.

What are governments doing to combat and reduce the spread of COVID-19?
Governments around the world have been responding to COVID-19 by vaccinating their citizens. Since the beginning of this year, 29.4% of the world population has received at least one dose of vaccine, and 15% is fully vaccinated. However, wealthy countries like the US have fully vaccinated 50% of their populations while only 1.1% of people in low-income countries are vaccinated.

What can we expect for our lives, work, school, and travel?

Vaccines as a way of life

Whether you agree or disagree with the COVID vaccines, vaccination is becoming a way of life. For example, the US Federal Government, along with many companies and universities are mandating COVID vaccination for those returning to work or to school. If the European Union policy becomes a model for the United States, a vaccine passport may very well be required for people wanting to enter indoor restaurants or entertainment venues.

More COVID testing
COVID Testing—the rate of PCR and Rapid Antigen testing is steadily increasing and before long, regular testing may soon be required for work, schools, events, and travel. In fact, California recently mandated weekly testing for unvaccinated government and healthcare workers.

No more lockdowns
While lockdowns are unlikely to recur in the United States, restrictions are here to stay. On the socioeconomic level, I do not believe that the world can ever afford to lockdown again, even as the Delta variant continues to ravage hot spots around the country and the world.

No one wants a repeat of the economic, psychosocial, and political turmoil of 2020, and rampant money printing policies will have to stop before irreversible damage is done to our long-term economic health. Most experts agree that the way forward in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 without locking down is to wear masks indoors and to continue social distancing policies.

Supply chain disruptions

As the Delta variant spreads, particularly in Asia, it could accentuate problems in the global supply chain which is already affecting the automobile and semiconductor industries. Prices for every day staples as well as housing and energy costs are also likely to continue increasing.

What’s happening in China?

China approves Chinese medicine for COVID-19

Historically, Chinese medicine has long been part of the arsenal for controlling pandemics, including COVID-19 and SARS-1. The government of Beijing, along with administering its own vaccines has approved specific herbal formulas for the prevention and treatment of COVID. These formulas consist of antiviral herbs like Lonicera or Japanese honeysuckle, Forsythia or golden bell, and Isatidis or Chinese indigo root among others that have been shown in Chinese studies to be “useful in reducing the incidents and severity of COVID-19 infections.” These same herbs are found in our own Immunity formula that has been a daily staple for our family, staff, and patients since the beginning of the pandemic.
There are also studies that support the use of zinc, vitamin C, olive leaf, and Echinacea to support the body’s own immune system fight against respiratory viruses. These and other nutrients are present in our Immunity Lozenges and Natural Immunity products.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:
  • Wear your mask and make sure it fits properly. Studies show that multilayered masks reduce transmission of COVID by 70% and an N-95 can bring that efficacy up to 95%. However, with N-95 still in short supply, a properly fitted KN-95 can be more effective than a regular mask. You can find them online or at taostar.com.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently and avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid crowds. Wear a mask and keep your distance from others indoors and in crowded places.
  • Keep your immune system strong. Your best defensive strategy is to stay healthy by eating well, getting plenty of sleep and rest, reducing stress, exercising regularly, and taking herbs and supplements that support healthy immune function.
  • Stay home if you feel sick and get tested. Unless you are tested, it is difficult to determine whether a runny nose, sore throat, body aches, and fever are related to COVID or just the regular flu.
*A note to patients: To safeguard the health of our patients and staff, we require and offer anyone who has cold or flu symptoms a Rapid Antigen test before entering Tao of Wellness offices. Please call and inform our staff in advance of your arrival for an appointment.

In summary, as new variants take hold, COVID-19 is apt to be with us for quite some time. It is important that you are vigilant and take proactive precautions, but most importantly stay healthy because simply put—healthier people are less likely to succumb to and develop complications from any illness, including COVID.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
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