The latest JN.1 COVID variant is driving a wave of new infections, and the media is attempting yet another fear-hype cycle. Some liberal jurisdictions are even bringing back mask mandates.
The hype is being driven by wastewater metrics (the not quite exact science of counting viral copies in samples taken from sewer systems), but the experience of the Netherlands in recent weeks showed that a record wastewater reading may be a non-event:
Here’s the bottom line: this wave is the smallest winter wave yet from a hospitalization standpoint (even where wastewater readings are at all-time highs) which means the infections are overwhelmingly mild, and based on seasonal timing we are likely at or near the peak:
Moreover, because hospital numbers include anyone who happens to test positive for COVID, even if it has nothing to do with why they are there, the actual disease burden is much lower.
Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer of the largest safety-net hospital in LA County, Los Angeles General Medical Center, has once again dispelled dooming from his own health department:
We are continuing to NOT see COVID pneumonia. We are NOT seeing patients getting admitted to the ICU with pneumonia, we are NOT seeing patients get intubated because of COVID.
There certainly is community COVID spreading. COVID is a winter virus. There’s also community other viruses spreading, because these respiratory viruses happen in the winter months. COVID is not going away. It is endemic. It is one of many now endemic viruses, which in my mind does not distinguish itself from other viruses. Frankly, I’m kinda more afraid of influenza than I am of COVID at this point.
And if you look at the numbers that we’ve seen in our hospital, they are below this year the level they were last year at the same time, considerably so, and with milder disease even than we were seeing last year, which was milder than the year before that, which was much milder than that horrible 2020 winter… So everybody just relax.