99 Percent of People Hospitalized for COVID in 2021 Have This in Common
New research has found a link among those hospitalized with COVID in the last four months.
Over the last year, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. have been hospitalized after contracting COVID. But with widespread access to COVID vaccines, the number of serious cases has dramatically declined in 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that only around 1,780 people in the U.S. were hospitalized last week for COVID, compared to a peak of more than 6,000 in December. Of course, the virus is far from contained, and some people are still getting sick enough to need medical intervention. According to a new study, there's one thing that almost all of the people hospitalized for COVID in 2021 have in common: They're not fully vaccinated.
The Cleveland Clinic analyzed data for COVID infections and hospitalizations over the last four months for people who were at various stages of the vaccination process, as reported by the Akron Beacon Journal. According to the study, out of the nearly 4,300 COVID-19 hospital admissions to Clinic hospitals between Jan. 1 and April 13, more than 99.75 percent were patients who were not fully vaccinated. Per the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The researchers also looked at COVID cases among 47,000 employees in Ohio, where nearly 2,000 employees tested positive this year. They found that most of those infected with COVID over the last four months were also unvaccinated. According to the study, 99.7 percent of the infections occurred among those who were unvaccinated, while only 0.3 percent of infections occurred among employees who were fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or Moderna.
According to Cleveland.com, this data suggests that the Pfizer and Moderna are more than 96 percent effective at preventing infection. These results are even higher than what the CDC reported in late March, which estimated that the vaccines were 90 percent effective under real-world conditions.
Donald Dumford, MD, the medical director of infection control for Cleveland Clinic Akron General who was not involved with the study, told the Akron Beacon Journal that the Cleveland Clinic's data shows the risk of getting infected or hospitalized is substantially lower after being fully vaccinated. He also said the data should help people who are hesitant about getting the vaccine see the benefits of being vaccinated.
"The vaccine we know is very safe. This is a new vaccine, but it is not new technology and we know in studies it's safe … and exceedingly effective," Dumford said. "The way for us to start to get back to normal life is to have as many people as possible be immune from the virus. The vaccine is the best way to do this."
The CDC has reported that a small number of people are getting COVID even after being fully vaccinated, however. But breakthrough cases only happen to a "small percentage" and are expected with any vaccine, the agency notes. The CDC also says it's likely that if you do get COVID after vaccination, your case will not be severe or require hospitalization. Dumford agreed that the small number of breakthrough cases he's seen have been "very mild" compared to unvaccinated patients. Overall, the study "shows that those that are vaccinated are far, far less likely to get the disease than those who aren't," he said.