Speaking to a gathering of journalists and academics organized by the Health Coverage Fellowship, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned that she can’t predict when the COVID pandemic will end – if it ever does – because it largely depends on human behavior, which is, of course, impossible to predict.
Keep in mind, Walensky first gained public notoriety for her tearful outburst back in March, just as COVID deaths in the US were bottoming out.
Now, with cases, deaths and hospitalizations on the decline once again (although you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage, which fixates on Alaska and a few other sparsely populated areas where healthcare resources are scarce) Dr. Walensky is setting the stage for the Biden Administration to continue with its heavy-handed vaccination mandates, even as more scientists speak up to question whether these vaccine supplies might be put to better use in the emerging world.
As more scientists argue that we may be in the midst of the last major COVID wave (before it morphs into a flu-like endemic seasonal virus), Dr. Walensky laments that “we have a lot of the science right now; we have vaccines…what we can’t really predict is human behavior. And human behavior in this pandemic hasn’t served us very well.”
Perhaps Dr. Walensky would prefer the US government simply coerce every citizen to accept the vaccine like China has?
She went on to complain that with only 55% of the US adult population vaccinated, there isn’t enough immunity to fend off the next harmful variant that emerges (though notably all of the most dangerous variants so far have emerged outside of the US, including delta).
Dr. Walensky went on to discuss how “dangerous” the delta variant is, citing its “R-naught”. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, the “R-naught” or “Ro” is a measure of the infectiousness of a given virus. The higher the number, the more infectious. In theory, it represents the number of people that every new patient infected with a virus goes on to spread the virus to. Walensky puts the number for delta at as high as 8 or 9.
“With the delta variant, the R-naught is 8 or 9,” Walensky said. R-naught, or the basic reproduction number, signifies the average number of people to whom an infected person will spread the virus. “That means we need a lot of protection in the community to not have disease.”
But there are others who believe the “Ro” of delta is much, much lower.
A few weeks ago we shared research from JPM’s policy research analyst David Mackie who found that “the Delta wave was much milder than expected: none of these countries saw the gains in [Ro] that we anticipated.”
Needless to say, this research could blow up the carefully scripted narrative promulgated by the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci, that Delta was far more contagious and “potentially” more deadly than previous variants. And already, over the past week, we have seen more media reports – and even government edicts – raising new questions about COVID jabs and whether the US policy to vaccinate the entire population might be flawed.
But the stunning results of JPM’s research can be found in Table 1, which shows the “Ro” of the delta wave is much lower than the “8 or 9” quoted by Dr. Walensky.
But back to Dr. Walensky. While she blames the unvaccinated as responsible for the fact that COVD is still with us more than 20 months after the pandemic began, “the science” has a dramatically different explanation that doesn’t align with the Biden Administration’s narrative. Scientists have repeatedly explained that “herd immunity” is likely no longer a possibility for humanity. Even the highly-celebrated mRNA vaccines aren’t anywhere near 100% effective, and many studies of both natural and vaccine-induced immunity show immunity provided by antibodies weakens over time (and the immunity from natural infection may be stronger than vaccine-induced).
Then Walensky turned to the topic du jour: the fact that a few sparsely populated pockets of the US (ie Alaska) are seeing outbreaks due to the fact they have “so little protection” while other communities have “higher vaccination rates”. Yet she didn’t say anything about the fact that COVID cases and hospitalizations are down significantly in states like Florida, which were widely criticized for opposing mandatory masking and vaccine measures.
“And the virus isn’t stupid — it’s going to go there,” Walensky said. “So really what your question depends on is how well we coalesce together as a humanity and a community to do the things that we need to do in those communities to get ourselves protected.” But so far, “we are battling with one another and not battling with the common foe, which is the virus itself,” Walensky said.
Americans are “battling with one another”? We gotta say invoking the Civil War seems pretty extreme for a public-health official.