White House warns of possible COVID-19 surge this winter, urges vaccines

The first vaccines went into arms two years ago
COVID-19 Vaccines
Posted at 4:25 PM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 18:06:15-05

(WXYZ) — Holiday celebrations are underway, and many people hope they’ll side-step the tridemic viruses. However, the White House is warning Americans that a COVID-19 wave is possible and that we must protect ourselves.

Our COVID-19 case numbers are heading in the wrong direction. If you look at the data from the last couple of weeks, COVID-19 cases have risen by 53%. Hospitalizations rose by 31%. We’re also seeing more virus levels in wastewater.

Wastewater surveillance detects and measures the amount of virus that is present in certain areas, and it’s often an early indicator when it comes to future surges.

But how bad will this winter be? That, we can’t predict. On the plus side, we have widespread vaccination and previous infection, which means we have a decent wall when it comes to immunity.

Even if cases do surge, it appears that fewer people will develop severe illness. Still, there are many factors at play. We have new dominant variants: omicron’s BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. And none of the monoclonal antibodies work against them.

This could really affect folks who are immunocompromised. Also, we have low booster rates, which means that widespread immunity I just mentioned is fading.

The first vaccines went into arms two years ago, and they absolutely have worked. Around 658 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered over the last two years. Those shots prevented an estimated 18.5 million hospitalizations and 3.2 million deaths. That’s according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund and Yale School of Public Health.

Also, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that looked at the week of Sept. 25:

  • Unvaccinated people aged 12 and up had a death rate of 1.32 per 100,000
  • People who were vaccinated but did not get the new bivalent booster had a death rate of 0.26 per 100,000
  • Those numbers dropped even lower for people who were vaccinated and boosted; their death rate was 0.07 per 100,000.

Additionally, after crunching numbers for the entire month of September, the CDC estimates that vaccinated and boosted people age 12 and older had a 15 times lower risk of dying from COVID-19 when compared to people who were unvaccinated.

Why are we still seeing thousands of cases? It’s because vaccines are not 100% effective at stopping infection. They were never meant to be 100%. The goal was to stop severe illness and prevent deaths, Which they do.

Another reason is the waning immunity combined with newer variants. Only 13.5% of Americans 5 and older have rolled up their sleeve and got the updated booster shot. The numbers are even worse among our seniors: only 34.2% got the new booster. And this is really concerning to me because 90% of people dying are age 65 and older.

So once again, I will stress the importance of vaccines and getting boosted. If you get vaccinated now, you will have decent protection by Christmas and New Year’s when many families and friends gather to celebrate.

The Cultivation of Happiness sounds like a dream. Some people may even say it does not sound possible. On the next episode of Ask Dr. Nandi, explore the cultivation of happiness. Despite what fairy tales depict, happiness doesn’t appear by magic. It’s not even something that happens to you. It’s something you can cultivate. Neuropsychologist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Rick Hanson joins Dr. Nandi. This episode will have you finding new ways to find happiness and sometimes the happiness you did not even know existed. Tune in this Sunday, Dec. 18 at 1:30 a.m.

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