EDITOR NOTE: With America recovering from the pandemic and only 47% of the US population vaccinated, the delta variant presents us with a wager: in what way should Americans be suspicious of the supposedly new variants in India and South America? Might the variants be capable of infecting the non-vaccinated in a manner that might prompt another lockdown, as in the case of Australia? This is not unlike Pascal’s classic wager. What if you get vaccinated whether you believe or don’t believe the data on the variants? What if you choose not to get vaccinated at all? Which outcome might have a more favorable or unfavorable effect on the country and its economy in a worst-case scenario? Are you complying with the government out of fear (or trust) based on official data whose reality you can’t truly validate? Tangentially speaking, how might this process inform the way you think about inflation (a transitory phenomenon) or Biden’s $4 trillion package (that ultimately, it’s good for America)?
The fast spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in much of the world is thwarting plans in many countries to lift lockdowns and reopen economies, a major setback to efforts to contain the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The variant’s spread has heightened a likely feature of an extended global pandemic: the contrast between poorer unvaccinated countries where hospitalizations and death rates are surging and highly vaccinated populations where the link between rising case rates and serious illness has been largely broken.
Delta, which swept through India in May, is estimated to be at least twice as contagious as the original version of the virus. It is now present in 85 countries and is the most common variant in the U.S. Only in South America, where another highly contagious version of the virus is prevalent, does Delta not seem to be making inroads.
In parts of Asia, Australia and Europe, governments are reintroducing travel restrictions and delaying the lifting of lockdowns as health authorities find that restrictive measures that kept earlier lineages of the virus in check aren’t curbing Delta.
In the U.K., where the variant accounts for 97% of recent cases, and other places with high rates of vaccination, concern is tempered by evidence that the shots are reducing hospitalizations and deaths. But in largely unvaccinated parts of the world, including some countries of Africa, hospitals are overwhelmed. In Indonesia, caseloads are at the highest level since the start of the pandemic.
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