Ok, summer surge in new coronavirus cases? Yes, that was expected. Nearly as many cases as this time last year? I don’t think any of us were expecting anything quite like that. Not with vaccinations touting up to 95% efficacy for the prevention of contracting COVID-19. And while Florida’s overall vaccination numbers aren’t leading the country, we’re not near the bottom either. Most recently Florida was exactly mid-pack, 25th, in the percentage of the population who’re fully vaccinated.
As of Saturday, just over 50% of Florida’s population had been fully vaccinated with nearly 59% who’ve been at least partially vaccinated. Considering vaccines still aren’t available for those under 12, these aren’t poor percentages. However, it’s time for a reality check for Florida’s summer spike in cases. Through Saturday, there were 14,258 new reported cases and on July 24th of last year, there were 12,521 cases.
That’s not a mistake. We’ve had 1,737 more newly diagnosed cases than a year ago. As for the weekly trend in new COVID-19 cases, through Saturday there were 10,454 and on July 24th of last year, we had 10,791 cases.
The weekly trend is essentially flat from a year ago, though notably, our trend in summer cases was on its way down by this time last year. We’re still on our way up with Saturday’s total for new COVID-19 cases being the highest since January 30th. Last week, I explained based on vaccination levels, based on the number of new cases we were experiencing, it was impossible for the efficacy of the vaccines to be anywhere near as effective against the variants as we’d been told it was against the original virus. That’s clearly the case today.
For over half of Floridians to be fully vaccinated, and for us to have as many or more new cases of COVID-19 today compared to a year ago several months before there were any vaccines, tells a story. One none of us want to hear. And a first-of-its-kind study out of Israel measuring the Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy against the Delta variant likely fills in the blank. The Pfizer vaccine proved only 39% effective in protecting recipients from contracting COVID-19. We still don’t have any data regarding the Moderna or J&J.
As part of my analysis last week, I discussed the average efficacy of the traditional flu vaccine at 43%, along with the length of efficacy of the flu vaccine. The Israeli study of the Pfizer vaccine places it right in that neighborhood. Based on the summer surge in cases along with vaccination levels and the study out of Israel, we’re currently faced with a significant reality check. Increasingly COVID-19's variants look like the seasonal flu and the vaccine efficacy too.