COVID Vaccines Still Dramatically Reduce Severe COVID, Hospitalization, and Death
Even against Omicron, vaccination offers substantial protection against the worst outcomes of COVID, even in people with previous infections.
Two or three doses of mRNA COVID vaccines reduce the risk of death or needing a ventilator by 90%, even against Omicron, according to new research from the CDC. In addition, a study published today in Lancet Infectious Diseases found that, in people who have already had COVID, vaccination with any of four major vaccines (including two available in the U.S.) cut risk of another bout of COVID in half while reducing risk of hospitalization from COVID by 80% to 90%, depending on the vaccine.
Both sets of findings are encouraging because they provide more evidence about the benefit of vaccination in preventing the worst outcomes of COVID, even if they do not always prevent mild disease or the ability of someone infected to transmit the virus to others. The second study also provides more evidence that even people who have natural immunity from a previous COVID infection can benefit from vaccination.
Overly High Expectations of Vaccines
In a way, the early success of COVID mRNA vaccines in preventing not only COVID-19 disease but also SARS-CoV-2 infection has made it harder for some people to trust in the benefit of vaccination now. It was only for a brief couple of months in early 2021 that mRNA vaccines were found to block infection and transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and only against the variants circulating at that time. That was great, exciting news. It just didn’t last.
By the time Delta arrived, a combination of vaccine immunity waning and characteristics of the Delta variant meant that vaccination still dramatically reduced risk of infection, disease, hospitalization, death and even some transmission — but we learned it was possible for a vaccinated person with Delta-variant COVID to transmit the disease to others, though it happened less frequently than if they hadn’t been vaccinated. That trend continued with the Omicron wave.
The vaccines were no longer the super-awesome rock stars they had been. Instead…