CDC: Unvaccinated 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director, CDC
From wire reports
New U.S. studies released Friday show the COVID- 19 vaccines remain highly effective against hospitalizations and death even as the extra-contagious delta variant swept the country.
One study tracked over 600,000 COVID-19 cases in 13 states from April through mid-July. As the delta variant surged in early summer, those who were unvaccinated were 4.5 times more likely than the fully vaccinated to get infected, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Vaccination works,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC’s director, told a White House briefing Friday. “The bottom line is this: We have the scientific tools we need to turn the corner on this pandemic.”
But as earlier data has shown, protection against coronavirus infection is slipping some: It was 91% in the spring but 78% in June and July, the study found.
So-called “breakthrough” cases in the fully vaccinated accounted for 14% of hospitalizations and 16% of deaths in June and July, about twice the percentage as earlier in the year.
An increase in those percentages isn’t surprising: No one ever said the vaccines were perfect and health experts have warned that as more Americans get vaccinated, they naturally will account for a greater fraction of the cases.
Walensky said Friday that well over 90% of people in U.S. hospitals with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
CDC released two other studies Friday that signaled hints of waning protection for older adults. One examined COVID-19 hospitalizations in nine states over the summer and found protection for those 75 and older was 76% compared to 89% for all other adults. And in five Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, protection against COVID-19 hospitalizations was 95% among 18to 64-year-olds compared to 80% among those 65 and older.
It isn’t clear if the changes seen over time are because immunity is waning in people first vaccinated many months ago, that the vaccine isn’t quite as strong against delta — or that much of the country abandoned masks and other precautions just as delta started spreading.
But U.S. health authorities will consider this latest real-world data as they decide if at least some Americans need a booster, and how soon after their last dose. Next week, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration will publicly debate Pfizer’s application to offer a third shot.
Shots for youths
The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine chief said Friday the agency will rapidly evaluate COVID-19 vaccinations for younger children as soon as it gets the needed data — and won’t cut corners.
Dr. Peter Marks told The Associated Press he is “very, very hopeful” that vaccinations for 5- to 11-yearolds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner: One company, Pfizer, is expected to turn over its study results by the end of September, and Marks say the agency hopefully could analyze them “in a matter of weeks.”
In the U.S., anyone 12 and older is eligible for COVID- 19 vaccines. But with schools reopening and the delta variant causing more infections among kids, many parents are anxiously wondering when younger children can get the shots.
Pfizer’s German partner BioNTech told weekly Der Spiegel Friday that it was on track “in the coming weeks” to seek approval of the companies’ COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds. Moderna, which makes a second U.S. vaccine, told investors this week to expect its data on that age group by year’s end. Both companies also are testing their vaccines down to age 6 months, but those results will come later.
President Joe Biden’s new coronavirus vaccination mandates prompted some backlash Thursday, but the two federal departments that already require vaccinations — as well as several states, cities and private-sector companies — say their mandates are already doing what they intended: getting more shots in arms.
Since the Pentagon announced last month that active-duty military personnel would be required to be vaccinated, the percentage of service members with at least one shot rose from 76% to 83%, according to Department of Defense data.
At the Department of Veterans Affairs, which issued a vaccine mandate for its 115,000 front-line health care workers seven weeks ago, 82% of those employees are now fully vaccinated, up from 77%, and the number of shots it has given to all of its workers has more than doubled since early July, said Terrence Hayes, a spokesperson for the department.
Since Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said in mid-August that all employees at nursing homes and hospitals in the state would need to show proof of vaccination or adhere to rigorous testing for the virus, the number of workers at nursing homes who have received their first shot has risen from 79% to 84%.
After United Airlines announced last month that all of its roughly 67,000 U.S. employees must provide proof that they are vaccinated by Oct. 25 or face termination — the first major airline to issue such a mandate — more than half of employees who were unvaccinated have had shots, officials there said.
The increases elude the goal of getting virtually every employee vaccinated, although in the military, where troops have long been used to taking orders and avoiding voluntary actions, the numbers are expected to rise higher soon. Each service branch is working through its enforcement plan; once the Army makes its official announcement, those numbers are likely to increase, considering it is the largest branch of the military.
“The secretary of defense is giving commanders across the force the freedom to work through the vaccination process how they best see fit,” said Charlie Dietz, a Pentagon spokesperson. “His hope is that they can sit down with those that refuse the vaccine and bring in medical professionals to clear up any misconceptions they may have.” The Associated Press and The New York Times contributed to this report.
A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine clinic in Santa Ana. New U.S. studies released on Friday show COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective, especially against hospitalizations and death, even against the extra-contagious delta variant. JAE C. HONG — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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