I wake up on day 2 of our new lockdown and listen to the quiet. It is very very quiet, like when there’s been a fall of snow and the whole world sounds hushed. I wonder if it really is more quiet than normal – this is a pretty quiet place in general – and come to the conclusion that it could be the lack of Chris in the house.
I get up to have breakfast and try to avoid instantly looking at or listening to the news and fail almost immediately. I should remember from the last lockdown how constant and avid attention to the news early in a lockdown doesn’t tend to assist one’s mental wellbeing. I do remember that, but it doesn’t stop me turning the radio on and looking at my phone at the same time while eating.
Damn, one of the cases identified later yesterday could have been infectious in the community for two weeks. No wonder Ashley and Chris Hipkins were warning us yesterday that the numbers of cases could get to 120 (what a strangely precise sounding number I thought, no 100-150, but ‘120’). If someone actually has been contagious in the community for 2 weeks, 120 sounds like a small number given the power of the delta variant. So I do some basic maths based on 4 days to infectious and 6 people infected by each person. At 4 days 1 person has infected 6 others, they infect 6 each to make 36, they infect 6 each to make 216. OK, 120 isn’t so unrealistic, it’s 50% of maximum. Calculations and logic make me feel better, I guess they make me feel more in control of something that is so far outside my control that thinking I might have some control is quite laughable. I go and take a picture of the sun lighting up Ben Cruachan to improve my mood.
Now the news comes through on the radio that health officials may be being particularly cautious in identifying places of interest from 3rd August; perhaps the case had cold symptoms that were unrelated to COVID. That sounds a bit better.
A definite piece of good news comes through that Chris does not have COVID . He had cold symptoms and felt that he should get tested before travelling back to Gibbston. In an impressive turnaround from our health system his result was returned less than 24 hours after he went to a testing centre in Christchurch. My mood bobs up and down with the news today, like a dead hedgehog floating in our pond.
On the information front (back in control again), I went looking for articles about children with the delta variant, after a friend asked the question as to whether children getting COVID is now a bigger problem, or not (I love questions, and researching – send more!). The answer in the media so far seems to be ‘no’, though I am not sure I wholeheartedly believe it. The general response is that, cases are rising everywhere, therefore they are also rising in children. Hospitalisations of children are rising, but nowhere near as much as hospitalisations of adults. However, adults are getting sicker with delta than with previous variants, so this would seem to lead one to a logical conclusion that children might also get sicker with delta than with previous variants.
My guess is that, first, there is not enough data collated yet to conclusively show whether delta is making children sicker. Second, there will be extreme hesitancy in making statements on this front because children cannot currently be vaccinated, so there is relatively little that adults can do to protect children (other than get vaccinated themselves and reduce the likelihood of disease transmission). Adults are highly protective of children so any statements saying that children are getting sicker is going to be a major blow. Therefore no-one is going to make such a statement before they are pretty sure.
But why can’t children be vaccinated at present? This is interesting, because many of the vaccines we currently use are for children. Here are some reasons why:
- Children are not the age group in which you start testing your new vaccine. There is a lot of hesitancy around the risk of testing on children (and on women of child-bearing age).
- Children’s immune systems work differently to adults as well as children being a different size. Unfortunately you can’t just take a vaccine that works in adults and put a smaller shot in children because it may not directly scale. And you definitely neecd to consider different immune system modes of action.
- There are many parents that are not going to want their children to be vaccine guinea pigs, and children don’t have their own authority to volunteer for trials.
- There has been a perceived lack of urgency, given that early strains of COVID seemed to leave children relatively unaffected.
However, 12-16 year olds are now approved for COVID vaccines in some countries, as data has been and is being collected on that age group. Trials are starting for younger age groups. The challenges of vaccinating sufficient numbers of a population to prevent mass spread of COVID-19 is becoming apparent and if you can’t vaccinate children you already have a lot of people who will not be vaccinated, before you encounter those who don’t want to be vaccinated.
So, that’s me for this morning (I thought I might go back to more frequent posts in this early phase of lockdown). I still another 1.5 hours till the Jacinda/Ashley show at which I can find out the latest news while having lunch (that means 1.5 hours until lunch, one of those highlights of the lockdown day, a bit like that long lost activity – long haul travel). Sean Hendy says Auckland’s got a big cluster, he’s not known for hyperbole, so I think I had better go back to meditative breathing as breath holding in anticipation of good news might not be right trick today.