Delta, delta, delta, can I help ya, help ya, help ya?

Last night, the 11 P.M. CBS local newscast interviewed an apparently healthy, fit-looking man.  He seemed to be in his mid-30s, and the thrust of the interview was that he'd gotten the COVID Delta variant, so we all had better hurry and get vaccinated if we haven't already.  I must admit, I was half-asleep when it came on, but I couldn't help wondering if he'd actually been sick.  Nobody asked, nor did the guy mention symptoms.  It was all about the inconvenience of having to isolate himself from his kids, plus he had to miss a family reunion.

Earlier, at the gym, where 30 or so big TV screens near the ceiling entertain exercisers, I happened to be on the rowing machine in front of CNN.  It's a station I rarely watch, but I paid a bit of attention when they had a doctor on, in his scrubs, talking about the "alarming number of new cases" of the Delta variant.  The case rate is indeed up, and, while what I read about it varies, at least one source claims that Delta accounts for 50% of all U.S. COVID cases at this point.  So, when I got home, I looked up a few things — for one, the case and death statistics.

I was not at all surprised to find that in the USA, the seven-day average of deaths "from COVID" was 266 per day. Note that there is no separation between Alpha (the original) and Delta within this set of stats.  Ever since the two local counties, Alameda and Santa Clara, audited their own statistics and found a respective 25% and 22% exaggeration of the numbers, I assume that that kind of exaggeration applies across the board to all COVID death stats.  That's why, when I heard about the current death count, I automatically lowered it (in my mind) by 23%.  That's a bit less than the average of the two, but a convenient benchmark.  That would bring the current 7-day average to about 200 COVID deaths per day, nationwide (without factoring in age or co-morbidities, of course).

As I mentioned in a prior article, those two California counties made these statistical changes because they originally counted folks who fell off a ladder, died in a burning Tesla, or were felled by another disease but tested positive for COVID.  There are over 340 million people in the USA (maybe a million more recent "immigrants"), and deaths are down from the 13,000-plus-a-day average at the height of the pandemic to around 200.  As a comparison, over 13,000 people die each week from heart disease and 11,500 or so from cancer.

I look at the concerted scare-mongering with a jaded eye.  Reuters's "fact check" goes as far as asserting that "there have been multiple local news reports of deaths" from Delta, yet it cites absolutely no statistics or links to any of them.  In fact, The Conversation reports that "[w]hile we still have more to learn about the Delta variant, this emerging data is important because it shows us that what we might think of as just a mild winter cold — a runny nose and a sore throat — could be a case of COVID-19."  Oh.

That brings up another question, at least in my mind.  If the symptoms of Delta are like the common cold, would getting it provide antibodies that might prevent our getting a worse variant — say, the original Alpha one?  Seems like an important question to me.  Maybe an honest medical professional can answer it for all of us.

Image: Public domain, edited by Andrea Widburg.

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