Coronavirus: Study finds unvaccinated people 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19

LOS ANGELES COUNTY — In a single day in July, officials in California found that unvaccinated people were 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and five times more likely to report a case of the viral infection, according to a study published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The study, an early release of which was published online in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, drew from data gathered from Los Angeles County as the highly transmissible delta variant spread across the county and nationwide.

Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said that between May 1 and July 25, more than 43,100 COVID-19 cases were reported in county residents aged 16 and older. The cases included nearly 10,900 (25%) in fully vaccinated people, 1,400 (3%) in partially vaccinated people and 30,800 (71%) in unvaccinated people.

>> See the full study on CDC.gov

About 3% of fully vaccinated people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, ended up being hospitalized, with about .5% needing admittance to intensive care units and .2% needing mechanical ventilation, according to the study. Officials said about 8% of unvaccinated people who contracted COVID-19 were hospitalized, with 1.5% ending up in intensive care units and .5% needing mechanical ventilation.

“On July 25, the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among unvaccinated persons was 4.9 times and the hospitalization rate was 29.2 times the rates among fully vaccinated persons,” officials said in the study.

“These data indicate that authorized vaccines protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection and severe COVID-19, even with increased community transmission of the newly predominant Delta variant. … Efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage, in coordination with other prevention strategies, are critical to preventing COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths.”

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The study supports comments from public health officials and President Joe Biden, who have framed the ongoing pandemic as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“While we’re starting to see initial signs that cases may be declining in a few places, nationwide cases are still rising, especially among the unvaccinated,” the president said Tuesday. “Across the country, virtually all of the COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.”

Research has shown that vaccinated people can spread the delta variant, though health officials have emphasized that vaccination protects well against severe illness and death from COVID-19.

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More than 51% of the U.S. population, or 171 million people, have so far been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC. Officials said 201.7 million people, or about 61% of the population, have gotten at least one dose of one of the available vaccines.

Since the start of the pandemic, officials have reported nearly 38 million COVID-19 cases nationwide, resulting in more than 619,800 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins. Globally, 212.8 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, resulting in 4.4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.