Covid-19 Update #21 by Peninsula Doctor
It’s been almost two weeks since our last letter, and I’m happy to report that Bay Area Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have leveled off and appear to be declining. If we were going to see a surge in cases related to the last holiday week of last year, we likely would have seen it by now. Stanford yesterday reported 84 patients in the hospital with, or having recovered from, Covid-19. This compares to 107 one week ago, and 120 around the first of the year. I suspect that we will continue to see case numbers slowly decline.
Vaccination efforts continue, although at a slower pace than many had hoped. At this time, almost all local hospital, medical, and dental workers have been vaccinated. Vaccines have also been offered to those ages 75 and older, and recently to ages 65 and over as well. Stanford is currently scheduling the 65 and over group, and Sutter is scheduling 75 and older, but will soon offer vaccination to the 65 and over group as well. Counties have not yet begun to offer vaccines to any smaller physician offices, like ours. We expect this to happen in the future. In the meantime, we are more than happy to assist you in scheduling a vaccine visit with Stanford, Sutter, or the County. We are constantly monitoring locations and availability, and we are ready and able to help.
There continues to be optimism that more vaccine candidates will be approved in the near future. Dr. Fauci, on Sunday, mentioned said that Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca could send their studies of their Covid-19 vaccines to the FDA shortly: “I would imagine within a period of a week or so, or at the most, a couple of weeks — they’re going to be getting their data together and showing it to the FDA.” Availability of one or both of these vaccines would greatly accelerate our ability to vaccinate the majority of the population.
With respect to children, Pfizer’s vaccine was studied in people ages 16 and older, while Moderna’s was studied in ages 18 and up. Both companies are currently doing trials in the 12 and older age group but have not yet reported data. AstraZeneca’s vaccine, currently being used in the UK, will also begin studying the 12-18 year old age group next month. Most vaccine trials start this way, with approval first in adults to ensure safety, and then later studying the vaccine in teenagers, followed by ages 5-11, and then ultimately testing in children ages 5 and under. While children continue to be at very low risk of complications from Covid-19, it will still be reassuring when we can offer them a vaccine as well.
While we continue to learn more about new variants of the virus, expert opinion is reassuring that the vaccines should still be effective against the newer strains. In a pre-print study released this week, researchers showed that the plasma from volunteers who had received either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines produced enough of an immune response that vaccinated individuals should still be protected against the new variants. It may be that vaccines will be tweaked in the future to reflect changes in circulating variants of the virus, but for now, it does not appear to be a significant concern.
We hope that all of you are staying safe and enjoying the start of this new year. We look forward to the future with optimism, and expectations for the return of a more relaxed way of life.
Dr.Kroes & Dr.Hiroshima