Dear Signature patients:
Given that the number of COVID cases is increasing, we felt it was time for another update:
- Case rates have quadrupled in Charlotte in the past 2 weeks and hospitalizations are trending up significantly.
- Only 50.1% of Mecklenburg County residents have had 1 dose of a COVID vaccine. We are NOT close to achieving herd immunity.
- The delta variant is approximately twice as infectious as previous variants. A person infected with the delta variant may infect 5-8 people on average as opposed to 2-3 people with the original strain.
- Efficacy data on vaccines and the delta variant is evolving. mRNA vaccines have been reported to be up to 80-90% effective against delta; however, data from Israel suggests it could be lower. Efficacy of J&J against delta was thought to be >60%, although a recent study suggests it may be lower.
- Thus far the CDC has not recommended or approved booster vaccines with a 3rd dose of the existing mRNA vaccines or a second dose of J&J. Booster vaccines containing more recent variants are being tested, but this is a moving target. Boosters may be recommended at some point in the future for certain high risk populations (such as cancer patients, transplant patients and others with suppressed immune systems); this is still being studied.
- At this time, booster vaccines cannot be given as they are not approved under the Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.
- The mainstay of treatment for COVID infections is still treating symptoms, mostly with over-the-counter medicines. However, treatment with monoclonal antibodies might be an option for those who qualify. This treatment appears to be effective in preventing hospitalizations if given within the first 10 days of illness.
- Because no vaccine is 100% effective, fully vaccinated people CAN still contract COVID infections. Vaccinated individuals
- have been shown to transmit COVID while either asymptomatic or only mildly ill.
- Vaccinated individuals are much less likely to become severely ill or be hospitalized than unvaccinated individuals with COVID. In fact, more than 99% of recent deaths and 97% of hospitalizations were in
- unvaccinated individuals. The average age of hospitalized COVID patients in our area has dropped from ~61 years to ~47 years. ~15% of hospitalized patients require ventilator support. We recommend that anyone who is not yet vaccinated do so immediately.
- It is unclear how much protection prior COVID infection provides against the new variants.
- Vaccination is recommended to boost spike antibody response and protect against new variants.
- Vaccine appointments are readily available at many pharmacies.
- COVID infections can mimic allergies. If you experience any respiratory symptoms, we recommend COVID testing regardless of vaccination status. Please call our office to discuss appropriate testing options.
- Wear a mask indoors in high density settings and when around people of unknown vaccination status (and children <12 who are unvaccinated). Avoid high density outdoor settings unless masked.
As always, please don't hesitate to call our office whenever you have questions or concerns.
The Signature Healthcare Team