“It’s exponential”: Dr. Rai on COVID surge and why boosters are so important for kids and adults

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 7:20 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin’s COVID-19 cases have surged in recent days.

“The numbers are incredible. You look at the state of Wisconsin, you look at Brown County, it’s not a gradual rate of rise right now. It’s beyond exponential. It’s just a vertical graph straight up of cases per 100,000,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health.

Dr. Rai joined us on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about what that means for our hospitals and why boosters are so important in the long fight against the virus.


“The numbers are incredible. You look at the state of Wisconsin, you look at Brown County, it’s not a gradual rate of rise right now. It’s beyond exponential. It’s just a vertical graph straight up of cases per 100,000. It’s hard to describe except to say it’s exponential.”


“That’s kind of a misnomer. If you think of that mound we had to the left there [Dr. Rai references a chart showing the spike in daily cases] and say maybe 12 percent of that population got into the hospital, that’s 12 percent of that very large number there, which overwhelmed our hospitals. It filled our hospitals. Say omicron is say half of that delta, six percent only go to the hospital, but that’s six percent of that really large line that you see there. That’s a lot more than what we had previously. That’s what you’re seeing happening on the east coast, you see that in Milwaukee, you see that in Dane County now, you see that starting to happen here. You start to take a very small percentage of that really big number, that’s a lot of people in the hospital. It’s hard to call a virus that puts that many people in the hospital ‘mild.’ Granted, if you have had both vaccinations and you’ve been boosted, the chances of you falling in that statistic are low. If you haven’t had the shots and you haven’t been boosted, you fall into that category of being hospitalized and it’s no longer mild.”


“I think, once again, herd immunity is going to be one of those rearview mirror questions. Is all of these people being infected, both those who’ve been vaccinated--who’ve had relatively small side effects, a mild case, to people who’ve gotten very sick--you combine all those people that really large peak, and you add on the number of people who are vaccinated and not infected and the people who are boosted and not infected, we may get there, but it’s going to be very costly. You think of that large percentage of people hospitalized, the amount of death we’re going to see because of this, that’s concerning. We may get there, but it’s going to cost us a lot.”


“We started vaccinating for boosters for 12-15 after their five months are over after their first series of shots--actually everybody is eligible for a booster after five months and two months after J&J--we started doing that on Friday. It’s really important for parents to understand that it was safe for the first two. There are a lot of vaccinations, that if you pulled out your kids’ vaccination cards that have more than two spots for a vaccine, a lot of vaccines have more than two shots as part of the series--this one right now is considered a three-shot series--we don’t know if that’s going to change. But it’s really important to protect our children. We don’t want them to be that small percentage of that really large number that wind up on the hospital.”


“We found that boosting both adults prevents long COVID and especially in kids now, they’re showing a 90 percent reduction in the chance of developing MIS-C, or the multi-inflammatory systemic condition, and getting that down to a very small number with a boosted child. So there’s a lot of good reasons to get your child boosted well beyond just contracting COVID.”


“A lot of work is being done, but it’s overwhelming. You look at that huge number of positives, that means that many people have come in for testing. A lot of testing sites are overwhelmed. You want to make sure two things; number one, if you get a spot and you’re going to cancel an appointment, make sure you cancel that appointment not no show. Somebody else could use that spot. And understand we’re only offering enough spots so we can get you results in a timely manner. It doesn’t make sense to say, increase the number of people swabbed to 4,000 a day when your lab can only run 2,000 a day. That just backs things up. That’s part of the equation. Hopefully we start to see a lot more home testing coming out and a lot more testing resources locally.”

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