Tuesday, January 04, 2022

How vaccines protect against hospitalization from the Omicron variant

The UK Health Security Agency publishes a bunch of stuff about COVID, some of it more digestible than others. Their latest Technical Briefing, dated 31 December 2021, though, does have a rather useful guide to how effective various levels of vaccination are against the Omicron variant in particular. It's hidden away in Table 6, towards the end of the document, so I'll copy it here:

The important part, in my mind anyway, is the final column, which shows that one dose of a vaccine (taken as an average of the different vaccines available in the UK) only confers 52% protection against hospitalization as a result of Omicron. Two doses increases this to 72%, but that figure drops off to 52% again after six months. A third dose, though, boosts it up to 88%, which is pretty good, I would say.

That said, the sheer number of new Omicron cases, among the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, mean that hospitalization numbers are going up rapidly anyway, both in the UK, in the USA, and here in Canada, where the rise in hospitalizations has been described as "explosive". And, for the first time, children are being particularly hard hit and being hospitalized in record numbers (that must hit some nerve, no?) However "mild" this variant is, it is causing record hospitalizations at a time when record number of healthcare staff are off ... with the virus! And yes, people are still dying (and will continue to die) from this variant, despite what you might read on Facebook.

And, bear in mind, these figures are for hospitalizations, not protection against actually contracting the virus. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot we can do about that, other than avoid people and wear a good mask.

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