Study published in European Journal of Epidemiology shows higher vaccine levels are not tied to fewer new Covid cases. Researchers conclude we need to “strike the balance of learning to live with COVID-19”.
A week ago, I noted Maine was having a surge in COVID-related hospitalizations. This happened despite 84% of everyone over 12, 85.3% of everyone over 18, and 98.4% of everyone over 65 are at least partially vaccinated.
Now the mainstream media has caught up with the analysis. Reports show that New England is being slammed by a COVID-surge despite the high vaccination rates.
Hospitals across the region are seeing full intensive care units and staff shortages are starting to affect care. Public officials are pleading with the unvaccinated to get the shots. Health care workers are coping with pent-up demand for other kinds of care that had been delayed by the pandemic.
“I think it’s clearly frustrating for all of us,” said Michael Pieciak, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation who monitors COVID-19 statistics for the state. “We want kids to be safe in school, we want parents not to have to worry about their child’s education and health.”
Even though parts of New England are seeing record case counts, hospitalizations and deaths that rival pre-vaccine peaks, largely among the unvaccinated, the region hasn’t seen the impact the Delta variant wave has wrought on other parts of the country.
New England is hardly the bastion of Red-State-rubes who love Trump and are anti-vax.
According to statistics from The Associated Press, the five states with the highest percentage of a fully vaccinated population are all in New England, with Vermont leading, followed by Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. New Hampshire is 10th.
According to the AP data, full vaccination rates across the six New England states range from a high of 69.4% in Vermont to 61.5% in New Hampshire.
Before the vaccine-faithful start asserting most of the cases are among the unvaccinated, a new analysis published in the European Journal of Epidemiology shows no discernible relationship between the proportions of populations fully vaccinated and new Covid-19 cases.
The study led by a population health researcher at Harvard University has found no meaningful association between new Covid-19 cases that emerged over a recent seven-day period and fractions of populations fully vaccinated in 68 countries.
In other words, having more fully vaccinated people do not necessarily mean fewer Covid infections.
The results actually point to a marginal positive association: countries with a higher percentage of fully vaccinated population had higher Covid-19 cases per million.
Israel, which had 60 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, had the highest Covid-19 cases per million — 6,224 — over the seven days prior to September 3.
India had fully vaccinated about 11 per cent of its population by September 3.
India had around 182 new Covid-19 cases per million over the prior seven days.
The US had fully vaccinated 51 per cent of its population but had 3,039 new cases per million.
Iceland and Portugal had over 75 per cent of their populations fully vaccinated, but both had more Covid-19 cases per million than Vietnam or South Africa, which had less than 10 per cent of their populations fully vaccinated.
The full article makes interesting reading, especially as it reaches the same conclusion about the virus I drew over 18 months ago: We need to learn to live with the virus.
The sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate COVID-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined, especially considering the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and the likelihood of future variants. Other pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions may need to be put in place alongside increasing vaccination rates. Such course correction, especially with regards to the policy narrative, becomes paramount with emerging scientific evidence on real world effectiveness of the vaccines.
…In summary, even as efforts should be made to encourage populations to get vaccinated it should be done so with humility and respect. Stigmatizing populations can do more harm than good. Importantly, other non-pharmacological prevention efforts (e.g., the importance of basic public health hygiene with regards to maintaining safe distance or handwashing, promoting better frequent and cheaper forms of testing) needs to be renewed in order to strike the balance of learning to live with COVID-19 in the same manner we continue to live a 100 years later with various seasonal alterations of the 1918 Influenza virus.
I suspect the Biden administration will have a tough time with the “humility and respect” portion of that very sound recommendation.DONATE
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