Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
The COVID-19 numbers, propelled by the Delta variant, are increasing across the board. The only thing that will help is to get people vaccinated.
In this week’s video, I go over the hotspots, efficacy of vaccines, breakthrough infections and new guidelines on masking and vaccine requirements.
Indonesia, the newest COVID hotspot, provides important data because it is basically an unvaccinated country. They have seen a big impact on the pediatric population. The U.S. has had a fourfold increase in new cases per day over the last month. Hospitalizations and deaths are also up. The biggest surges are in areas with low vaccination rates.
Locally, the Texas Medical Center is showing higher numbers in most categories, including hospitalizations. The increase in numbers nationally prompted the CDC to issue new guidance this week on masking. In areas with high infection rates, masks are recommended indoors whether or not you are vaccinated. Harris and surrounding counties fall into this category.
All of this bad news is because of the Delta variant, which now represents 83 percent of the virus in the U.S. The Delta variant is 50 percent more transmissible than the Alpha (or UK) variant, which was 50 percent more transmissible than the original coronavirus.
There is good news. The vaccines work, including against Delta, as long as you are fully vaccinated. One dose of Moderna or Pfizer is only 30 percent effective; you need the second dose. it is rare that vaccinated people are hospitalized or die from COVID. The unvaccinated are vulnerable to hospitalization or death. There are millions of unvaccinated people in the country.
In the video, I go over all of these numbers, plus the latest science, including how we can tell the efficacy of each vaccine and how neutralizing antibodies factor in determining the duration of protection.
This week, we announced that all Baylor faculty and staff must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 15. I am confident we will have 100 percent compliance. We have a process for requesting exemptions for medical and religious reasons. I hope the Baylor community will stand as role models for others to get vaccinated now.
To end this week, I am sharing some never before seen video of Lily participating in the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games. You have to see it to believe it.
Have a great weekend. Please stay safe. Keep a mask handy for indoor use.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO