The latest Covid-19 insights from former CDC Director Tom Frieden

Covid cases continue to plummet, although a small part of the recent decrease may be due to weather-related testing site closures. And while the vaccination rollout is going more smoothly, we must address equity much more effectively. Deaths are decreasing. Global collaboration is rising. Spring, not Covid, is increasingly in the air.

Better, But Not Yet Good

Covid decreases are steep, sustained, and nationwide. Cases decrease first, then hospitalizations, then deaths. There are four major reasons for the decrease: less travel, less mixing of people indoors, more consistent mask wearing, and growing immunity from infections (about 30% of the U.S. …

The latest Covid-19 insights from former CDC Director Tom Frieden

The third U.S. Covid-19 surge is fading fast, but variants — some of which are deeply ominous — are spreading fast. Vaccination is picking up steam, but we’re failing to address equity. And already high levels of pandemic fatigue are increasing. We must hang on for a few more months until most of us are vaccinated.

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Rapid decline in reported cases in the United States since massive holiday surge

The fundamental question is whether we’ll have a fourth surge. If we do, it will cost lives, and also increase the risk that more dangerous variants will spread widely.

But first, some good news: there’s been a dramatically fast decline in cases and test…

Covid epidemiology weekly blog

Covid variants are here, and more are coming — but so are vaccines. There’s encouraging news: cases, hospitalizations, and percent test positivity are plummeting in all ages and in all parts of the country, and deaths have begun to decline.

Now the bad news: infections are still VERY high, and higher than at the peak of prior surges. The most likely explanation for the rapid rise and even more rapid fall: travel accelerates viral spread exponentially. We’re recovering from the huge amount of ill-advised travel and indoor contact over the holidays. …

There’s been promising news this past week. Cases in many parts of the country are decreasing, meaning there’s less spread. Hospitalizations are trending down. The Biden-Harris Administration has issued executive orders to speed action in our fight against Covid.

But there’s a long way before we can get control of the virus. In terms of vaccination, we must focus on 3 key things:‌

  1. Get doses out of freezers and into arms ASAP. Vaccine does no good if it’s not given out. We need a strategy to make sure doses can be administered quickly as they become available.
  2. Denominators: What percentage…

The post-holiday flood is cresting, but cases, hospitalizations, and deaths remain astronomically high. Viral mutants are increasingly concerning. Vaccination is our best tool, but only one of several we must use more and better.

Although the wave is cresting, last week cases (3x), hospitalizations (2x), and deaths were still far higher than at any point before the current surge. National test positivity decreased from 15% to 12%. A flood with receding waters is still a flood.

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Reported cases don’t necessarily reflect community risk. For example, New York has a higher rate of Covid than Tennessee, but Tennessee tests at a…

The rapid emergence of new coronavirus strains are a shot across the bow. It’s a message from the virus: We outnumber you. We’re more persistent than you. We change and adapt.

How we react to this shot across the bow is up to us. We must fight smarter, collaborate, and protect ourselves and each other better.


First, let’s take a look at the numbers. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase, and, sadly, we can expect further increases. The scale of cases is mind-boggling. More than 1.6 …

We’re facing a perfect storm: Uncontrolled spread in most of the US, slow vaccine rollout, and worrisome mutations that increase transmissibility and could undermine diagnostic testing, antibody treatment, and vaccine efficacy.

A misleading narrative suggests that uncontrolled spread of Covid shows that public health measures don’t work. The plain truth is that most places didn’t stick with the program long enough to get cases to a manageable level, and now masking and distancing aren’t being done reliably.

So yes, if you don’t use masks correctly and consistently, they don’t work. And vaccines don’t work if people don’t take them. Fortunately…

With the first doses delivered this morning, the first step on the road to immunity through vaccination has been taken. At the same time, we’ve seen a deeply discouraging lack of action to stop the pandemic. The coming weeks will be devastating, but I fear that numbness to suffering is spreading as rapidly as the virus.

First the good news. The FDA has provided good transparency about vaccines and the data is about as good as could be. The vaccines are highly effective, including for older people (though few frail elderly were included in the studies), and against severe infection…

Unfortunately, Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to worsen. Vaccination is coming, so let’s make sure as many of us as possible are still around when it’s our turn. We must double down on protection protocols. Together, we’re stronger and safer.

We’re seeing the highest case and hospitalization rates ever in the US. Although cases are cresting in much of the Midwest, they’re still at a very high level. Some of the decrease in the past week can be explained by less testing and care over the holiday. …

Dazzling scientific progress, huge government investments, and good fortune have introduced a game changer in our pandemic fight, but we face daunting hurdles. How can we ensure the arrival of vaccines doesn’t go to waste?

Most public health specialists, myself included, didn’t expect vaccines to be so effective or to be ready this quickly, but important questions remain, and we face daunting hurdles ahead.

We must immediately launch an unprecedented vaccination campaign, protect nursing homes, make plans for immunity certificates, and prepare the world for the next threat.

In a new essay for the Wall Street Journal, I share how the US can navigate the perils of the looming vaccination campaign. The challenge is immense, but we can do it.

Read my full essay here. (No paywall!)

Covid vaccines are coming but aren’t here yet — the pandemic continues.
Covid vaccines are coming but aren’t here yet — the pandemic continues.

Dr. Tom Frieden

President & CEO, @ResolveTSL | Former Director, @CDCgov & Commissioner, @nycHealthy | Focused on saving lives | Loves cycling, playing squash, and a good book

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