As the delta variant began taking hold in Los Angeles this year, vaccinated residents were still 29 times less likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 than their unvaccinated peers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday — as undervaccinated states cope with rising hospitalizations and health officials press more Americans to get immunized.
Between early May and late July, Los Angeles County’s Covid-19 infection rate for unvaccinated residents was 4.9 times higher than for fully vaccinated people, and the unvaccinated hospitalization rate was 29.2 times higher, the CDC found in a study.
Just 3.2% of fully vaccinated people who caught Covid-19 in Los Angeles were admitted to hospitals within two weeks of infection, compared to 6.2% of partially vaccinated people who contracted the virus and 7.6% of unvaccinated patients.
The coronavirus’ more infectious delta variant accounted for fewer than 10% of the study’s cases in early May, but delta became California’s dominant strain as the study wrapped up, a trend the CDC cast as proof the vaccines held up in spite of delta.
“These data indicate that authorized vaccines protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe COVID-19, even with increased community transmission of the newly predominant Delta variant,” the CDC said in its study Tuesday.
Even though the Covid-19 vaccines appear to stave off serious illness, their effectiveness at stopping overall infections may have waned somewhat, according to another CDC study released Tuesday. Vaccine effectiveness fell from 91% to 66% after the delta variant became the dominant strain in a particular part of the country, according to the study, which looked at testing data for thousands of frontline workers nationwide. The delta variant isn’t necessarily the sole culprit for this trend, the CDC said: Its data could be skewed because it’s based on just 34 total infections among fully vaccinated people, and effectiveness may have worn off slightly because many of the study participants were vaccinated months ago.
Coronavirus infections have jumped nationwide since early July, forcing some states to grapple with hospital capacity crunches. Public health officials have pinned blame on lagging vaccination rates in some communities: The vaccines still offer strong protection against severe illness due to the delta variant, even if delta’s rapid rise in the United States has rendered them somewhat less effective at stopping overall infections.
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