I love the martial arts, but my soul won’t shrivel — much — if I have to pause my recently restarted training. Even after I warned against doing so in a recent post.
But I’ve made the choice to cut back on my jiu-jitsu training, with what I know about the Delta variant as a practicing primary care physician. At least until all members of my immediate family have been vaccinated for Covid.
If it sounds like a decision I made near the beginning of the pandemic, that’s because it is. Same throttling back, different reasons.
Here’s why you might want to consider doing something similar.
Delta is different
Basically, there was the original strain, the Alpha strain, and now the predominant Delta strain. Alpha was about 50% more contagious than the original, and Delta is about 60% more contagious than Alpha. By my back-of-the-napkin math, that makes Delta 140% more catchy than the original Covid.
The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines still do a good job at protecting against severe, life-threatening Delta Covid, but there’s recent news from Israel (though the study has not been peer reviewed, so definitive conclusions are a bit premature) that the Pfizer vaccine may be less effective at protecting against mild disease from Delta than the original strains. Dr. John Campbell does a nice job reviewing these figures in this YouTube video, and with a British accent.
If you’ve been vaccinated, you’re still well-protected against hospitalization and death from Delta, but more likely to catch…”head and chest cold” Covid.
And mild Covid is still catchy Covid.
Not everyone at home is immune
If your close household contacts are vaccinated, they’re about as bulletproof from a severe case of Covid as it’s humanly possible to make them.
If someone in your home is not immune, and you’re training and coming home, then you’ve got some thinking to do.
You care about them enough to…
Do you care about these close, unvaccinated/non-immune folks in your life?
Enough to change your personal routine?
It’s a question.
You may decide, That’s on them. They’re grownups, they can decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated, or to wear a mask around me, or to take better care of themselves and improve their immune health.
Viable responses. But not everybody makes smart choices, damn betcha, and not everyone can take care of themselves. This was true even before the pandemic.
So you have a decision of your own to make: are you going to go sideways, to protect them if they won’t or can’t?
You’re training up close with The World
If you do Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or judo, or TKD, or wrestling, or aikido, basically any kind of training where you’re within arm’s length of training partners, consider changing your routine.
Not so critical, maybe, if you train with one steady partner (especially if they’re a vaccinated family member), or train in privates with a coach who’s immune. Or do any other kind of training (archery compadres, you’re good, here).
But if you repeatedly get sweaty, breathe heavily within inches of others, switch partners, and do so in an enclosed space without wearing masks, well, I’ll just come out and say it: you could not design a better way to catch a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus.
Doesn’t matter if you’ve been vaccinated, or recovered from Covid.
It’s not about you. You can still get a mild case of Covid and bring it home to someone who is at risk of severe disease. Maybe your immune system is awesome, because you eat right and train in the martial arts. Good on you, mate — do your unvaccinated household contacts do the same? Are their immune systems as robust?
It’s not guaranteed that you’ll screw that person and that they’ll die because of you; it’s not even guaranteed that you’ll catch Delta. But the odds are up and possibly rising, no joke.
Which is why my training has shifted to privates with my coach, watching classes from the sidelines carefully while masked, and getting really familiar with my grappling dummy.