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Letter for Wednesday, September 8, 2021

On minimizing the spread of the delta variant

There is a little-known piece of the delta variant “puzzle” that is allowing the virus to easily spread. It has to do with our “threshold” cells (the cells of our nose and throat).

A doctor in the Pathology Laboratory of the National VA system (this is the lab that determines our national policy regarding the pandemic) describes it best.

In summary (and greatly simplified):

To enter our bodies, a virus must first populate the “threshold” cells of our nose and throat. With the delta variant, this now happens in an equally high viral count, to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people during the first few days after exposure. By about Day 5, the viral load has increased enough to warrant an IgG immune response. The viral population is then greatly decreased in vaccinated people and illness is diminished (or avoided altogether).

The vaccine was not designed to create an IgA immune response, the response needed to eliminate the virus at the threshold-cell level.

It is this “5-day period” that is of great concern. With the original coronavirus, vaccinated people had a much lower viral load during this five-day time period and were not of concern as asymptomatic carriers. With the efficiency of delta, however, vaccinated people are now significant carriers.

Think about it. If we are this far into the pandemic with all of our precautions, and it is still spreading exponentially, there is another factor at play.

If even just a few vaccinated people socialize without masks (which I see happening often), the virus can easily spread. Over the next five days, a person from this unmasked social circle will most likely interact with an unvaccinated individual (or with an individual who has an unvaccinated person in their family). Boom! The virus has found a “host” to populate. Unfortunately, this “host” is usually a child.

Here’s what we need to do to minimize the spread of the delta variant:

Until our community is fully aware of this new “5-day” factor, BOTH vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should wear an N95 mask around an unmasked individual outside of the household.

The N95 mask is made up of tightly-woven particles that, if worn properly, prevent contagious droplets from entering the nose and mouth of the wearer. A face visor and earplugs would prevent the virus from entering eyes and ears. The regular cloth masks do not protect the wearer in the presence of an unmasked person (although effective when all individuals in a group wear cloth masks).

The tidal wave is coming. This super-efficient variant is just getting started. The time to act is now, before this generation of children (and therefore our future) is disastrously affected. Regardless of whether or not you have been vaccinated, protect your family and our island community by wearing an N95 mask while socializing with an unmasked individual who is not a part of your household.

Let’s bring these numbers down Kaua‘i!!

Anne Meyers, Kilauea
Source: The Garden Island

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