A recent study by CMC, Vellore on the staff of the hospital who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 finds that the infection is either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic in vaccinated individuals even in high-risk settings such as that of health care workers.
Infection rates are significantly reduced even with a single dose of the vaccine. The study was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings Journal.
It, however, didn’t research the various variants like the beta and Delta variants of the virus.
In the 1350 staff who tested positive on RT-PCR, 33 health care workers developed an infection within 2 weeks of their second dose.
The risk of infection among fully vaccinated HCWs was significantly lower when compared with unvaccinated HCWs. Similarly, vaccination with two doses reduced hospitalization, need for oxygen therapy, and ICU admission.
The protective effect of vaccination in preventing infection, hospitalization, need for oxygen, and ICU admission were 65%, 77%, 92%, and 94% respectively.
The only staff member who died since the beginning of the pandemic had multiple co-morbidities and had not taken the vaccine.
What these percentages mean is that, say, for example, the vaccine prevents 94% of ICU admission. It means that in a population such as the one enrolled in the trials, with a cumulated COVID-19 attack rate over 3 months of about 1% without a vaccine, we would expect roughly 0· 06% of vaccinated people would get ICU admission.
In simpler terms, only 6 people in every 100 vaccinated people who get infected will be requiring ICU admission.
Similar figures have been reported from studies conducted in the UK, Jerusalem, and California. All the studies confirm that vaccines have indeed decreased the rate of infection and eventual mortality of the virus.
When introduced into the system, the body creates antibodies to fight the infection.
These antibodies remain in the body and can identify the virus when it enters the host and provides a faster, anamnestic response.
The vaccine can help these groups in two ways-
a) direct protection- High-risk groups can be directly vaccinated to protect them
b) indirect protection- those in contact with high-risk groups vaccinated to cut off the transmission.
In this way, vaccination can significantly reduce the severity of the infection and the forthcoming waves of the pandemic by breaking the chain of transmission.
The lockdown has not only hampered the economy of the nation, but also the state of education. It has increased the rich-poor divide and made bare necessities like food and shelter unattainable for the poor.
Mental health has also been on the decline in the loneliness and helplessness of the pandemic. Hence, as the studies have found, rapid and aggressive vaccination campaigns are the need of the hour.
We need to find out solutions that allow us to live with the virus without hampering our growth.