dr. Byerley suggested to her mother-in-law to imagine that once every ten times she went to the bathroom on any given day, she would die. “Oh, 10 percent is terrible,” she recalls her mother-in-law said.
The estimates of Dr. For example, Byerley showed that an average 40-year-old who was vaccinated more than six months ago had about the same chance of being hospitalized after an infection as someone of dying in a car accident over the course of 170 road trips. (Recent vaccinations offer better protection than older ones, complicating these predictions.)
For immunocompromised people, the risks are greater. An unvaccinated 61-year-old with an organ transplant, Dr. Byerley, is three times as likely to die from an infection as someone is within five years of being diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. And that transplant recipient is twice as likely to die from Covid as someone who dies climbing Mount Everest.
Keeping the most vulnerable people in mind, Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency room physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, last month looking into the number of cases people should drop to stop masking indoors without endangering those with extremely weakened immune systems. systems.
He imagined a hypothetical individual who was not benefiting from vaccines, wore a proper mask, took hard-to-find prophylactic drugs, occasionally attended meetings and shopped, but did not personally work. He set his sights on keeping the risk of infection of vulnerable people below 1 percent for a period of four months.
To reach that threshold, he found, the country would have to continue to mask indoors until transmission falls below 50 weekly cases per 100,000 people — a stricter limit than the CDC currently uses, but which he said nonetheless provided a benchmark to to strive for.
“If you just say, ‘We’ll take off masks when things get better’ — that’s true I hope — but it’s not really helpful because people don’t know what ‘better’ means,” said Dr. Faust.