From Alpha to Delta, Vaccines Continue to Pass the Test
This summer, Provincetown, Massachusetts, received national news coverage after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data which found that 74% of 469 SARS-CoV-2 infections associated with multiple summer events and large public gatherings held there in July 2021 were among the fully vaccinated.
The timing coincided with the U.S. onset of the Delta wave that sparked rising caseloads and hospitalizations. This, in turn, caused the CDC to reevaluate their recommendations for fully vaccinated Americans, and left those that had received their shots confused about the effectiveness and long-term protection associated with COVID-19 vaccines. Fortunately, that anxiety seems to have been premature, as new data has come to light to alleviate those concerns. Even in the face of the Delta variant, studies – from the Netherlands and Canada, as well as stateside – have continually shown the real-world effectiveness of the vaccines against symptomatic infection is holding up to the lofty expectations set by the clinical trials.
But what the COVID-19 vaccines are even better at preventing is severe disease, resulting in hospitalization and death. Data from Germany, Malaysia, and India among others all point in the same direction, demonstrating roughly 90% or better effectiveness at staving off severe cases of COVID.
That has also been confirmed by many practitioners in the field seeing patients admitted to the hospital. One such doctor is Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, who recently said on C-SPAN that “the people that go to the hospital have not received any vaccines, nor has anyone in the household.”
To get our own sense of the vaccines' effect on the disease burden of COVID-19, we followed 5.9M patients with at least one COVID vaccination (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, or AstraZeneca) between Jan 1, 2021 through May 31, 2021, and analyzed their respective infection and hospitalization rates. Our analysis was based on Komodo’s Healthcare Map™, the industry’s largest and most complete database of de-identified, real-world patient data tracking U.S. patient journeys.
What we found was extremely encouraging. Of those nearly six million patients, just 322 received a COVID diagnosis following vaccination (out of over 285,000 tests conducted). Another 782 patients received a pneumonia diagnosis, which could possibly be related to an undetected COVID infection. Even adding these two totals together yields a tiny fraction (<0.1%) of the initial sample.
Furthermore, the rates of COVID or pneumonia requiring ER visits or hospitalizations were even lower. Just 11 patients with a COVID diagnosis required in-patient care, and eight required an emergency room visit. That’s a rate less than 0.005%. For the 782 patients with a pneumonia diagnosis, 203 patients required an in-patient stay and 57 had an emergency room visit.
As we move forward, there are still tough questions to consider, from boosters to childhood vaccinations, when to require shots, and how best to deploy them to newly eligible populations. But as Delta shows signs of receding, it seems clear that if we want to beat back future threats – while pushing SARS-CoV-2 into becoming our fifth, manageable, endemic coronavirus – the fastest route possible is by continuing to find the most effective way to get shots into the arms of those that remain unvaccinated.
Interested in more COVID-related data? Read Komodo Health’s latest research brief, “Ivermectin Prescriptions Rise 72% in 2021 as Off-Label Use Ramps Up”