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What Colin Powell’s Death Can and Can’t Tell Us About COVID Breakthrough Cases: Gunshots

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Houston Fire Department paramedics prepare to transport a COVID-19 positive woman to a Houston, Texas hospital on September 15, 2021. While the virus is still rampant in the US, some vaccinated people will continue to be infected.

John Moore / Getty Images

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John Moore / Getty Images

Houston Fire Department paramedics prepare to transport a COVID-19 positive woman to a Houston, Texas hospital on September 15, 2021. While the virus is still rampant in the US, some vaccinated people will continue to be infected.

John Moore / Getty Images

When Colin Powell died of COVID-19 this week, it came as a shock to many Americans.

While scientists and federal health officials firmly believe that the vaccines work well to protect against hospitalization and death, it is troubling to hear from fully vaccinated people like Powell or perhaps your own friends and neighbors who are severely affected by COVID- 19 fall ill.

So how good to do the vaccines work? What is the risk of a serious breakthrough infection that could bring you to the hospital?

In Powell’s case, of course, there were several reasons why he was at higher risk. He was 84 years old and had in recent years been treated for multiple myeloma – a blood cancer that forms in plasma cells that are critical to the immune system. These facts alone would put him at a very high risk for a breakthrough disease, says Dr. Rachel Bender Ignaciowho leads clinical COVID-19 research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“We shouldn’t change our risk assessment based on a good or bad outcome that happens to a single person,” she says. “The vaccines are still holding up very well.”

Despite concerns about the potential for diminishing protection from the vaccine, scientists say the best data in the US still tells a clear story: People who are fully vaccinated are at far less risk of contracting or contracting COVID-19 COVID-19 to die for when unvaccinated. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which represents approximately 30% of the US population.

Who will get seriously ill with COVID after the vaccination?

Those who have severe breakthrough illnesses are usually older or have serious underlying health conditions, or a combination of these risk factors.

“People of advanced age or with weakened immune systems respond less and less well to vaccines – regardless of whether it is a flu vaccine or really another vaccine,” says Bender Ignacio.

The influence of age on the risk of breakthrough infections is strong. The CDC released data separating breakthrough infections and deaths by age. Among fully vaccinated people, people aged 80 and over were almost 13 times more likely to die from COVID than people of any age. However, unvaccinated people in their 80s were at a much higher risk than vaccinated.

Research shows that people who are worst off are particularly susceptible medically. A Study of vaccinated patients Hospitalized at the Yale New Haven Health System, the average age was found to be around 80 years old and had many underlying problems including cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes, and some were also on immunosuppressive drugs.

While these results came before the increase in the delta variant, Dr. Hyung Chun, who led the study, says their ongoing research shows that these types of patients are still responsible for most breakthrough diseases, “even with the changing landscape of breakthrough infections.”

Chun says those who are vaccinated generally do better when they are in the hospital compared to those who are not.

“Even if you’ve been hospitalized [with a breakthrough infection]”The trend we’ve been seeing is that if you need things like supplemental oxygen, mechanical ventilation, or even have your risk of death, you’re likely to be much less sick,” says Chun, associate professor of cardiology at the Yale School of Medicine.

In mid-July, the CDC found that people with immunodeficiency accounted for 44% of groundbreaking hospital admissions – a number that supports the decision to recommend a third vaccination to people meeting the criteria of a weakened immune system. A recent study Conducted by vaccine maker Pfizer and not yet peer-reviewed, found that immunocompromised study participants were responsible for about 60% of breakthrough hospital admissions and were three times more likely to get infected than those who were not immunocompromised.

The three large clinical trials conducted by the vaccine manufacturers did not include immunocompromised individuals Dr. Jonathan Golob, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Infectious Diseases.

“The vaccines are still great, even against Delta for almost everyone, except for people with very, very weak immune systems,” he says. This list includes patients who have had an organ transplant, active cancer, or some other serious autoimmune disease that requires a lot of medication to treat. “All of these people, I would say, still need to be careful and the best thing to do to protect them is to get everyone around them vaccinated,” he says.

How often does a serious breakthrough disease occur?

That is difficult to answer at the moment, in the US there are so far 7,178 people should have died of COVID-19 after vaccination and about 85% were 65 and older, according to the CDC, but those numbers are meant to be a “snapshot” and are a minority, an agency spokesman told NPR. About 190 million people in the United States were fully vaccinated during the same period

As more Americans get vaccinated, the raw numbers of serious breakthrough infections will inevitably increase as the virus spreads, but these numbers can be misleading.

“Hospital admissions for a breakthrough infection are higher than a few months ago, but this should be seen in light of the fact that more people are fully vaccinated,” says Chun. “You work with a much larger denominator of patients.”

Conclusion: The risks of hospitalization are far greater for those who have not been vaccinated. the Chance of hospitalization in the US for COVID-19 is 12 times higher if not vaccinated, according to recent CDC data. These prices can vary from week to week, the agency notes. And they vary depending on the age group. Unvaccinated adults aged 18 to 49 were 14 times more likely to be hospitalized, while adults over 65 were 9 times more likely.

Some of the most compelling data also comes straight from what hospitals see in their communities.

A study by Hospitalization of COVID-19 patients at Beaumont Health – Michigan’s largest hospital system – found a “dramatic” difference in hospital visits between vaccinated and unvaccinated, says Dr. Amit Bahl, an emergency doctor who authored the study.

“When you were fully vaccinated, the chances of being hospitalized or going to the emergency room decreased by 96%,” he says. “A bad outcome for a fully vaccinated patient was extremely rare.”

Some states tracking breakthrough hospitalizations find a similar pattern.

For example New Yorks Show data that 0.06% of the vaccinated population ended up in hospital for COVID-19. Minnesota has one similar price.

However, it is still difficult to quantify how often a breakthrough infection will result in someone being hospitalized, as the US says it doesn’t closely track these data at the national level, it says Angela Rasmussen, Virologist at the University of Saskatchewan.

“I think we’re not there yet,” she says. “We don’t really know the denominator – how many groundbreaking infections there have been in total.”

Has the chances of getting very sick increased and is that why the government is starting to introduce boosters?

The push for booster vaccinations reflects concern that certain groups of Americans – namely those who are older – now appear a little less protected from a severe case of COVID-19 than they were in the spring, and fear the risk of infection increased because of the delta variant. The dates vary between vaccines. Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine appears to be the least effective against hospital stays.

But scientists are still trying to unravel exactly what is behind this increased risk.

Older Americans were already more susceptible to the virus. They were also among the first groups to be vaccinated. “So not only do we have a higher-risk population, but they have been receiving the vaccine for a long time,” says Bender Ignacio. “And that’s exactly why boosters were recommended to these populations.”

The arrival of the delta variant and an increase in cases among the unvaccinated have brought many more people into contact with the virus, including people who may be particularly at risk, Rasmussen says.

“Unfortunately, although we vaccinate a lot more people, it’s still not enough and we still have a lot of viruses,” she says. “When these two conditions are met, you will simply have more breakthrough cases. ”

Ultimately, even if the protection against hospitalization is waning for some groups, it does not seem to have resulted in a large increase in the number of seriously ill vaccinated patients, even if the country is grappling with a huge increase in the number of cases.

“Everyone I’ve seen seriously ill with COVID this week is unvaccinated,” said Golob of the University of Michigan Health System.

Thank You For Reading!


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