In trying to make sense of the pandemic as new virus variants emerged and vaccines became available, we found that cyclical patterns don’t conform to seasons, deaths lag behind cases by varying degrees, cases and subsequent deaths vary by 10 to 15-fold, regional trends may shift, and case counts may be subject to reporting errors. How can we anticipate the future if we can’t understand the past?
These days we’re awash in mask mandate conflicts, continuing vaccination resistance, and warnings that the wholesale disruptions to our lives “ain’t over yet.” While the media tends to focus on administrative conflicts as well as the slight, local, daily up and downticks, here we present a longer and broader view.
Notable changes have occurred since our last COVID-19 progress report . The Omicron variant has taken hold nationwide. The pace of booster inoculation has picked up but resistance to the original primary series persists. Local efforts to reduce exposure to the virus vary widely, creating confusion as to whether the end of the pandemic may finally be in sight.
The published literature on COVID now exceeds 211,000 papers, books, and documents, which include: 22,866 observational studies, 19,591 reviews, 1496 meta-analyses and 781 randomized control trials. These publications comprise the backdrop for our research and writing. The project began in the spring of 2020 based on a limited source of cumulative COVID-19 data and has broadened considerably. Here is what we have learned.
While COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing (however slowly), infections are increasing more rapidly. Both provide a degree of immunity from further infection. We have previously investigated daily rates of change in detail. Here we consider the cumulative rates of infection and the implications for the future of the pandemic.
New COVID-19 cases (infections) and deaths began a steep decline in January, followed by fewer deaths a few weeks later, resulting in lower case-fatality rates. Vaccination rates began to increase during this period, but not everywhere nor for everyone. Did these public health benefits result from increased vaccination rates?