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Dr. Carter has posted a new article on her site about the COVID pandemic. Her predictive models have consistently outperformed the ones the government favors (see the graphic above and then read her article). She always provides an unbiased scientific perspective, so her blog is worth a read. In her most recent post, she focuses on the impact of the new and more infectious COVID strain (P1) on Brazil, a country with no vaccination program. I’ve traveled there in the past – a vast country of music and friendly people where a level of chaos is the baseline norm, making an organized COVID response challenging. The healthcare system in Brazil is collapsing under the strain of the pandemic. Her point is that we should take note of the disaster there (thus far ignored by the press), which may be a warning to the U.S. as spring approaches and many states walk back COVID restrictions.

As I think about the big picture, it’s clear that even the earlier strains of COVID were far more contagious than was admitted. On top of that, people can spread the virus for many days before becoming symptomatic (if they do at all), so we can’t realistically find spreaders by taking a temperature (even though we keep trying). It was the perfect storm, even without the additional factors of politicizing, conspiracy theories and anti-science views. A year ago, it seemed likely to my uneducated eyes that the COVID death toll would be at least as bad as the pandemic of 1919. We will never know the real numbers in countries like Africa, China and Brazil, but I suspect we have probably met or surpassed the 1919 numbers.

Social distancing and the other things we are doing limit the RATE of spread in hopes we can get enough people vaccinated first. Vaccination is therefore a “no brainer” decision since the side effects of the vaccine are clearly less worrisome than the side effects of COVID, and the infectious nature of the new strains makes exposure almost guaranteed. But, the rate at which mental health and the economy are declining is terrifying. I feel like that’s the real race – the race between mitigation and mental health. At some point, the mental illness impact will be worse than the impact of COVID. I don’t know when we will get to that tipping point, but I suspect we will get there soon.

–Caroline

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