Alexander Tin – CBS News
Unvaccinated people were 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a new study Friday, providing more evidence of the vaccines’ effectiveness at preventing severe disease, even as protection from mild breakthrough cases appears to be waning in the face of the Delta variant.
“Looking at cases over the past two months when the Delta variant was the predominant variant circulating in this country, those who were unvaccinated were about four and a half times more likely to get COVID-19, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die from the disease,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing Friday.
The CDC’s latest data, published as three studies Friday in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, are also the latest sign that booster shots could become necessary in the coming months for many.
Examining the incidence of COVID-19 across 13 jurisdictions in the United States, the CDC reported that the odds of fully vaccinated people becoming sick with the virus rose as the Delta variant surged across the country.
Scientists expected fully vaccinated people to make up some 10% of cases from late June through July, if the shots retained peak effectiveness at preventing any infection. Instead, vaccinated persons accounted for 18% of observed cases — a finding the study’s authors said “were consistent with a potential decline in vaccine protection against confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
However, while protection against hospitalization and death remained relatively high in the study through mid-July, the CDC also published new data showing further evidence of waning protection against severe disease in the oldest Americans.
In data collected from the agency’s “VISION Network” cohort of hundreds of hospitals and urgent care clinics, the agency reported that vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization in adults 75 and older “was significantly lower” than in younger patients through August. A handful of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers reached a similar conclusion in their data, estimating effectiveness against hospitalization for adults 65 and older at 80%.
Both studies reported that their findings of declining effectiveness against hospitalization had not been previously observed in their cohorts.
The CDC has previously reported vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization appearing to drop over time in other cohorts, though still remaining above 80% through July.
The new results come as federal health officials say they are moving ahead with plans to roll out booster shots nationwide, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration and formal recommendations from a panel of the CDC’s expert vaccine advisers.
Pfizer is expected to be first to win approval from the FDA for a booster shot. The regulator plans to convene its panel of vaccine experts to deliberate over the company’s booster shot data next week, ahead of the administration’s planned rollout the week of September 20th.
Federal health officials say they also hope to allow for booster shots for recipients of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines in the coming weeks, pending more data from the drugmakers.
The Biden administration has also pointed to data collected abroad to underscore the need to roll out additional doses of the vaccine for those most at-risk; Israel, for example, has already begun administering booster shots.
“Israel has been a very interesting phenomenon to observe, because they seem to be ahead, certainly of the United States, in every element of the outbreak, including response to vaccines,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, told a virtual event hosted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on Wednesday.
Yale University researchers, in a federally-funded preprint study that has yet to be peer-reviewed, recently reported the early booster shot rollout there appeared to reduce the odds of infection by up to 68%.
Israeli health officials have also briefed the Biden administration on additional unpublished data from their booster program. The country’s prime minister recently urged President Biden to speed the U.S. booster strategy, which currently plans for Americans to get their additional shots 8 months after completing their initial regimen.
“Although earlier studies showed that hospitalization protection, most recent studies, in my personal communication with Israeli health authorities, indicate that there’s even now a significant diminution,” added Fauci.
Coronavirus cases in Quebec rise by 821 with three new deaths and two more hospitalizations – CTV News Montreal
Quebec reported Saturday that 821 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the province, bringing the overall number of infections to 402,283.
Of the new infections, 609 people were unvaccinated when they received their positive result, 49 received one dose of vaccine more than two weeks prior, and 163 were double-vaxxed more than a week before the test.
Hospitalizations rose by two bringing the total number of people receiving care in the province’s hospitals to 264. The ministry reports that 36 people checked in for care, and 34 were discharged. Of the 36, 28 were unvaccinated, two received one vaccine dose more than 14 days prior and six got both jabs more than a week before entering the hospital.
There are 89 people in intensive care wards, which is six fewer than on Friday.
Three more people have died due to COVID-19, bringing that total to 11,321 since March 2020.
There are 508 active outbreaks in the province.
Quebec’s vaccination rate remains at 88 per cent for one dose of the eligible population and 82 per cent for both doses.
Spike in COVID-19 cases is pushing New Brunswick's health-care system to the limit – CTV News Atlantic
MONCTON, N.B. —
New Brunswick’s jump in COVID-19 cases has overloaded the health-care system this week.
The Horizon Health Network is now looking to hire more staff across the province to help with the growing demand for testing and vaccinations.
The health network has seen an increased demand in testing as COVID-19 cases have soared over the last month.
“Two weeks ago, if you wanted a test, you could walk in or call and get it at almost anytime you wanted,” said Dr. Jeff Steeves with New Brunswick’s Medical Society.
But now, assessment centres are seeing long line ups and delays in testing.
Steeves wants people to get the jab and practice caution during this time to prevent overloading the system even more.
“Remember, we were running short even before COVID, so we’re trying to maintain that,” Steeves said. “Therefore, we can’t divert the staff like we did before, hence the call for new staff.”
Horizon Health’s vice-president said in a statement Friday that they are currently looking to recruit staff at vaccination clinics, assessment centres and school clinics in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.
“Given the recent rise in COVID activity in New Brunswick, and the increased demand for these services, we are hoping to replenish our pool of available clinicians and administrative support staff as we ramp up activity at these locations,” said Jean Daigle.
Since the province announced proof of vaccination requirements this week, public health has reported a significant jump in vaccination appointments.
On Wednesday, 1,700 appointments were booked, while yesterday there were 1,929.
Health officials say prior to Wednesday’s number, the recent average for vaccinations was 600 bookings per day. On Thursday, 600 additional vaccines had to be delivered to a clinic in Moncton.
“Things have picked up dramatically,” said Fredericton pharmacist Alistair Bursary, who says they’ve been busy taking calls from people looking to get their first or second dose.
“So, whereas we were doing perhaps 10 patients a day on average now we are probably going to hit 40-50 just at our pharmacy alone,” Bursary said.
While the demand for services continue to climb, those working on the frontlines hope to get the help they need sooner rather than later.
Quebec reports 821 COVID-19 cases, three deaths – Winnipeg Free Press
MONTREAL – Quebec reported 821 new COVID-19 cases and three further deaths in its latest data on Saturday, as authorities expanded plans to use rapid tests in elementary schools to more regions of the province.
Health officials said hospitalizations increased by two to 264, while the number of patients in intensive care dropped by six to 89.
The province said about 80 per cent of new infections involve people who were not adequately vaccinated.
Quebec administered 19,662 vaccine doses on Friday and officials said 88 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received a first dose while 82 per cent have gotten both shots.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said in a tweet more than 1,000 of those doses went to health-care workers, with the province remaining firm on a plan to have all sector employees adequately vaccinated Oct. 15 or face reassignment or suspension without pay.
“It’s never too late to get the vaccine, it’s the best way to protect yourself and others,” Dubé wrote on Saturday.
The province conducted more than 32,000 tests on Friday and the positivity rate is 2.4 per cent.
Late Friday, Quebec’s Health Department said rapid testing in elementary schools will now extend to several administrative regions of the province where masking in classrooms is already mandatory.
In a statement, officials said the deployment will take a few weeks and include nearly 1,600 schools.
The provincial government came under criticism from opposition parties and school administrators on the rollout of the testing program.
The province appointed Daniel Paré, head of the vaccination campaign, to co-ordinate the deployment.
The Health Department said schools will have the tests and PPE needed to use the tests, reserved for students who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the day and training and protocols are being set up.
“They are a complementary tool to quickly detect cases and further protect students and school staff and ensure that young people continue to receive their education at school,” the department said.
The tests, which provide a result in 15 minutes, have been used in four neighbourhoods in Montreal and Laval since Monday.
Schools are expected to begin using the tests widely by the end of the month, when training of staff to use the tests is complete.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.
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