El-Sayed explains Michigan’s rising COVID-19 numbers

November 28, 2021

As Michigan becomes a COVID-19 hotbed, Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence Abdul El-Sayed unpacks what that means knowing what we know in 2021. 

El-Sayed appeared on Detroit Today on WDET-FM to unpack what the recent surge in COVID-19 indicated. “It's really a mix of two different pandemics. There is the pandemic of the vigilant-vaccinated, which largely is made up of mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic cases––because the vaccines work––and then there is the far more serious pandemic of the unbothered-unvaccinated, which is really causing the hospitalizations. What I propose is that rather than focusing on the number of cases, we should be looking at the number of hospitalizations, which yes is going up, but we should also be stratifying that based on whether or not you’re talking about counties with high vaccination rates or low vaccination rates. Because that really demonstrates the difference in the risk among vaccinated people vs unvaccinated people,” he said. 

El-Sayed also reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated. “The most important answer here is more vaccination. The biggest risk we face is people who have just decided to not do this for whatever reason,” he said. “They are spreading the disease more easily than others. They are also allowing the disease to find new ways to protect itself from these vaccinations.”

Responding to vaccine hesitancy because of a lack of trust in medical institutions, El-Sayed said, “I am a very, very vocal critic of the pharmaceutical industry. But I want to differentiate the industry from the science. And the science underneath is quite clear.”

In an appearance on WBUR, El-Sayed spoke about getting together safely during Thanksgiving and the holiday season. El-Sayed encouraged persons visiting family to try and get their booster shots as quickly as possible and suggested that those hosting people at home could use rapid antigen testing at the driveway before guests come in. 

“The way to think about COVID protection is like layers,” El-Sayed said, “Just like (if) you were to go outside, you might bundle up in a base layer then put on an extra sweater and then put on a coat. The coat here is the vaccine.” 

El-Sayed also participated in a Fox 2 Detroit panel on why Michigan was leading the country in COVID-19 cases. “These vaccines have been so effective that we are now in a position where the probability of mortality to COVID is so far lower than it had been. We are in a situation now where actually the most important thing is to mandate those vaccines. Because if we all want to live free of the kind of restrictions we have seen, then we want to live in a society where more people are protected because they have done the thing that they needed to do and got the vaccine,” he said. 

Watch and listen to El-Sayed’s media appearances here.