The following report won’t surprise folks who follow the pandemic closely, whether on Power Line or other reliable outlets, but it may contain details of which we were unaware. David Leonhardt of the New York Times writes:
The latest Omicron developments continue to be encouraging. New Covid-19 cases are plummeting in a growing list of places. The percentage of cases causing severe illness is much lower than it was with the Delta variant. And vaccines — particularly after a booster shot — remain extremely effective in preventing hospitalization and death.
As to the number of cases:
Since early last week, new cases in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and New York have fallen by more than 30 percent. They’re down by more than 10 percent in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In California, cases may have peaked. . . .
If anything, the official Covid numbers probably understate the actual declines, because test results are often a few days behind reality. . . .
Many hospitals are still coping with a crushing number of patients, because Covid hospitalization trends often trail case trends by about a week. But even the hospital data shows glimmers of good news: The number of people hospitalized with Covid has begun declining over the past few days in places where Omicron arrived first.
As to the health risk currently posed by the virus, Leonhardt cites results from a study by British researchers at Oxford:
A typical 65-year-old American woman — to take one example — is five foot three inches tall and weighs 166 pounds. If she had been vaccinated and did not have a major Covid risk factor, like an organ transplant, her chance of dying after contracting Covid would be 1 in 872, according to the calculator. For a typical 65-year-old man, the risk would be 1 in 434.
Among 75-year-olds, the risk would be 1 in 264 for a typical woman and 1 in 133 for a typical man.
Those are meaningful risks. But they are not larger than many other risks older people face. In the 2019-20 flu season, about 1 out of every 138 Americans 65 and older who had flu symptoms died from them, according to the C.D.C.
And Omicron probably presents less risk than the British calculator suggests, because it uses data through the first half of 2021, when the dominant version of Covid was more severe than Omicron appears to be. . . .
For now, the available evidence suggests that Omicron is less threatening to a vaccinated person than a normal flu.
Looking ahead, Leonhard concludes:
[T]he U.S. may be only a few weeks away from the most encouraging Covid situation since early last summer, before the Delta variant emerged.
If that happens — and there is no guarantee it will. . . — it will be time to ask how society can move back toward normalcy and reduce the harsh toll that pandemic isolation has inflicted, particularly on children and disproportionately on low-income children.
I believe it’s already past that time.