The Delta Variant

I’m starting to see more and more mentions of the Delta variant, and decided to start reading up a bit more on it. One of the articles I’ve come across feels like it’s worth sharing: Delta Variant: Everything You Need to Know by Tomas Pueyo.

A few caveats: I’m not super familiar with Pueyo, and looked him up to see what his background was. I encourage you to do the same, and come to your own conclusions.

Also, I did compare the initial chart in the article to what’s officially shown on But I didn’t methodically go and check/verify any of the other charts.

In his article, Pueyo talks about the sharp increase in new Covid cases – particularly in Europe and abroad. The rise now mirrors a similar pattern from mid-2020, right before a new wave hit.

As a point of concern: the UK has a 50% vaccination rate. And it’s still seeing this uptick in new Covid cases.

What I didn’t realize was how established the Delta variant already seems to be. It’s responsible for 99% of cases in the UK, and 50% here in the US. And the trend seems to be that it’s just going to increase here in the US.

The other info that stood out is just how transmissible the new variant is:

The original Coronavirus variant has an R0 of ~2.71. Alpha – the “English variant” that caused a spike around the world around Christmas – is about 60% more infectious. Now it appears that Delta is about 60% more transmissible yet again. Depending on which figure you use, it would put Delta’s R0 between 4 and 9, which could make it more contagious than smallpox.

Comparing Delta with prior variants is distressing, in that it’s got both a higher transmission rate and a higher mortality rate as well. The upside is that these dangers are largely for unvaccinated people (vaccinated people still can get Covid, but the dire effects seem lessened by the vaccine).

I am a worrier though. And these patterns seem to point towards an upcoming wave that will be hitting the US in the near term. I’m not sure what that will mean, for vaccinated and unvaccinated folks alike.

While I very much want things to return to normal (and have become more comfortable being out and about in the world), I’m beginning to feel hesitant again. The trepidation I have now feels eerily similar to the feelings I had in March of 2020, after hearing about Italy’s struggles with their rising Covid cases.

Within a few days after that blog post, both Liz and I shifted to working remotely, 100% of the time.

I’m starting to feel wary about going out again. And the challenge is trying to balance out the news I read about Delta vs. the risk I feel when thinking about going out into the world.

Because right now, it doesn’t feel that risky to me. I’ve gotten my two shots, Liz has gotten her two shots. So I feel like we’re fine, and should be able to freely do all the things again.

The rising prevalence of Delta in the US is a concern. The pattern of what befalls Europe eventually befalls the US is another concern. It feels like there’s a wave coming to the US, and I’m just not sure what will happen (or need to happen) when it fully hits.

I know that being vaccinated is no guarantee against Covid (because no vaccine is 100% effective). But I also think the actual hospitalization and mortality risks are lower for vaccinated people, even with the Delta variant. But I also don’t know if that will change, when the numbers start ticking up in the US (there’s a Gamma variant apparently, but I don’t have the mental bandwidth to start digging into that yet).

People are wearing masks less and less. Stores are no longer requiring masks (at least for unvaccinated patrons). Offices are opening up. And downtown Chicago seems to be ambling towards its old self, slowly and slowly.

I have started to also feel like things are returning to normal. But I don’t know if I feel that way now. Lately, despite all the visits and outings, I still feel like I’m holding my breath.

Anxiety in the Time of Coronavirus
Covid Vaccine: Shot #2
Covid Vaccine: Shot #1
The Nearness of the Vaccine

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