A doctor’s viral Twitter thread about the delta variant shows just how much further we have to go
The delta variant of the coronavirus is still surging, driving huge increases in case loads, hospitalizations, and deaths. In some states, case numbers are even higher than they were during last winter’s devastating peak — before we had vaccines. And with barely half the nation fully vaccinated, this fight is very far from over — as evidenced by a viral Twitter thread written by Seattle doctor.
Dr. Gaby Sauza is a pediatric resident who was vaccinated early in the rollout. In her Twitter thread, she explained that despite being vaccinated, she tested positive for COVID-19 this week — along with 9 out of 12 vaccinated friends she was with.
I tested positive for COVID this week, along with 9 of 12 fully vaxxed friends (among others), days after we attended an outdoor wedding (that required proof of vaccination) in 1 of the lowest-risk states in the country.
— Gaby Sauza, MD (@drmeowza) August 21, 2021
Sauza and her friends were at an outdoor wedding where guests had to show proof of vaccination, but the delta variant was still able to spread there. In her tweets, Sauza expressed her concern that healthcare workers, who were largely vaccinated before the general public, might be especially at risk now as delta spreads uncontrollably across the nation.
Thankful for protection against bad outcomes but YALL- uncontrolled spread of the more transmissible #DeltaVariant means that even relatively uncommon events are going to happen in significant numbers.— Gaby Sauza, MD (@drmeowza) August 21, 2021
I’m worried about its potential to wipe out ranks of HCWs, many of us vaxxed > 7 months ago = waned immunity relative to much of the public. It’s depressing, but we need to change behaviors in response to the mounting data showing that delta presents a new level of risk.— Gaby Sauza, MD (@drmeowza) August 21, 2021
Sauza stressed the importance of vaccines, but noted that they’re now only part of the equation, as we’ve learned that even vaccinated people can carry and spread the delta variant with a high viral load.https://twitter.com/jetpack/status/1429221779864580098 https://twitter.com/jetpack/status/1429221780925816832
As unsettling as Sauza’s thread may be, though, it’s far from an indication that vaccines aren’t effective against COVID-19. As the delta variant has become the primary strain in the U.S., reports of “breakthrough” infections among vaccinated people have become more common — but even as their numbers have risen, well over 90 percent of those hospitalized with the virus are unvaccinated. The vaccines still provide strong protection against the worst outcomes, including hospitalization and death.
There’s also evidence that getting most people vaccinated will stop the virus’s spread and allow for a return to normalcy. Chicago’s Lollapalooza music festival came under fire for photos of massive crowds of unmasked fans. But the festival required vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend — and more than 90 percent of its attendees were vaccinated, according to officials. Out of nearly 400,000 people who attended the festival, there were only around 200 cases of COVID-19 linked to that weekend.
The bottom line? The delta variant has changed the risk equation. Even vaccinated people must now take other precautions, like masking and social distancing when possible. But the reason the delta variant is able to spread so uncontrollably is that so many people are unvaccinated, and it’s on them to do their part and get us all out of this pandemic.