Every day there are cases of vaccinated people who are infected with coronavirus, although most of them do not have symptoms or are very mild. Very few end up in the hospital, but what can be expected if this vaccination rate is maintained is that the number of hospitalized patients will exceed that of those who are not.
Which would not be but the consequence that vaccination coverage has reached a more than desirable level without forgetting the fundamental thing: that with these antidotes, the number of hospitalized and deceased is notably lower than it would be without them.
This is explained to Efe by José Manuel Jiménez, researcher at the Department of Infectious Diseases at King’s College London, and Manuel Franco, epidemiologist and professor at the University of Alcalá in Madrid and Johns Hopkins University.
Less income and deaths
There are still those who wonder how it is possible that people with the complete pattern are becoming infected with the virus if what they tell us is that more than 87% of those over 40 are already protected with their corresponding doses. The answer is the one that has always been given: none of the current vaccines is sterilizing. That is, they do not prevent contagion.
And are they still as effective as they tell us? The first thing to remember is that none are 100%; and the second, that its main objective is not to avoid infection, but rather that people develop serious forms of the disease and die. And it is in this area that they are deploying their entire arsenal.
“The effectiveness of vaccines must be evaluated mainly in the prevention of the disease, hospital admissions and deaths. In fact, what we are seeing is that, although vaccinated people can become infected, the infection is usually asymptomatic or with mild symptoms ” says the infectious disease expert and doctor in Molecular Biosciences from the Autonomous University of Madrid.
With which its main function “is more than covered,” adds Franco, also a spokesman for the Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration (Sespas).
Last January 31 , at the height of the peak of hospital admissions of the third wave, there were 24% of ordinary beds occupied with covid patients and 45% of intensive care units (ucis).
The incidence in those days was close to 900 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and the weekly deaths exceeded 1,500. On the same January 31, 1.6 million citizens had a dose administered and 357,892 the full schedule.
Six months later, Spain, with 56.8% of its inhabitants immunized and more than 56 million punctured doses, occupies the first positions of the completely vaccinated population. And it does so in full remission of the fifth shock that the virus gives in a year and a half in which it has reached a maximum incidence of 700 cases.
Although it increases exponentially as the age of those infected decreases: in the group of over 80 years it is 276; in that of 70-79, 199; at 60-69 it rises to 322; in the one from 50-59 to 339; in the one from 40-49 to 434 and in the one from 30-39 to 817, until shooting up in the one from 20-29 to 1,653 and to 1,524 in the group from 12 to 19. The rate of minors of that age falls to 546.
The peak of hospitalizations and ucis is expected shortly: for now, the former are 8.24% and the latter are 18.31%. The average age of those admitted has dropped to 45 or 50 years and that of critically ill patients to 50. In the last week, 199 people have died .
There will be more vaccinated in hospitals
5.5% of hospitalized covid patients have the complete schedule compared to 83.4% who do not have any dose, although the percentages may be reversed and “in fact it would be expected if Spain continues to vaccinate at the rate it does,” he replies Jimenez.
As simple as thinking that if 100% of the population were vaccinated, 100% of those hospitalized would be vaccinated. But, yes, “we must not forget that the number of hospitalized in this case would be notably less than that without vaccines.”
This happens because they do not have that 100% effectiveness, either because “in certain individuals it does not work well or the response is not optimal”, which ends up developing serious forms of the disease or even dies.
With the higher also happens that, over the years, the immune system “also ages and deteriorates, so the immune response against infectious diseases or protection conferred with vaccines worsens over time.” It is the so-called immunosenescence process.
Be that as it may, Jiménez asks for great caution when analyzing the data before launching erroneous conclusions: “What is really important is to analyze the percentage of vaccinated that require hospitalization in a given risk group and compare it with the group of unvaccinated.”
That is, not talking about hospitalized vaccinated within the total group of people admitted with covid, but calculating the vaccinated who have required hospitalization within the same group of vaccinated, doing the same with that of unvaccinated and comparing both percentages.
Indoor vaccination document?
Vaccinated people can become infected and spread the virus. Now, the probability they have of becoming infected and transmitting the virus will be “considerably lower” than that of those who are not, so that “vaccination continues to be one of the best weapons we have to limit infections and the circulation of the virus. virus “, clarifies Jiménez.
“If we put unvaccinated people in a room and one person is infected – the expert exemplifies – the probability that the rest will be infected will be relatively high; if we place vaccinated and unvaccinated people in the same room this probability will decrease, but it will be much less if all people are vaccinated. “
So the reason for requesting a vaccination certificate to access indoors would be “to minimize the risk of contagion as much as possible.”
Taking into account, Franco emphasizes, that “the risk always exists”.
The problem is the unvaccinated
“Now the problem is in the unvaccinated,” says the epidemiologist. The important thing at this time is to protect this group, the vast majority of them young, and for this there are only two options: continue vaccinating and try to avoid contagion, avoiding crowds in open spaces but, above all, closed environments.
Franco rules out that Spain reaches the point of having to impose vaccination, “or at least hopefully we do not have to arrive”, although he does warn that young people are the most difficult to capture because “they do not see the danger the same as the elderly.”
But to achieve group immunity you have to accelerate with them; because that concept marked by the authorities with the figure of 70% – already recognized as insufficient by the Government in view of the advance of the delta variant – “is not a percentage.”
“The point is that the epidemiological situation, due to mass vaccination, results in fewer infections, fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths.” And that will only be possible by vaccinating young people.
What about the third dose, which the Ministry of Health has practically taken for granted? “Without a doubt, it is precipitous when we do not know how long immunity lasts”, Franco points out before censuring that “there is a lot of ignorance, and before thinking about the third dose in the countries that can pay for it, we must think about the first ones of those who cannot. “
“We cannot forget – Jiménez points out – that if we want to control the pandemic, we must vaccinate globally and not focus only on what surrounds us.” “As much as a country is vaccinated, if we let the virus continue to circulate freely in other places, the appearance of new variants of concern will only be a matter of time,” he warns.