New York City and Seattle are the areas that have the most recent data on Covid-19 outcomes based on vaccination status. These two areas tell a consistent story.
Both vaccinated or unvaccinated residents are experiencing an increase in their numbers.
They’re rising because vaccination often does not prevent infection from the Omicron variant. It reduces the chances substantially — as you can see above — but vaccinated people still face a meaningful chance of infection.
The vaccine reduces the risk of severe Covid disease. These charts show how different hospitalizations look from the charts for cases.
(The number of Americans hospitalized with Covid has surpassed last winter’s peak.)
Experts believe that the gap in hospitalizations between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not is greater than the charts show. The official data on Covid hospitalizations includes many people who are hospitalized for other reasons — say, a heart condition or a bicycle crash — and who test positive for the virus while being treated.
According to a recent University of California, San Francisco analysis, about one-third of all Covid hospitalizations fall under this category. 43 percent of those hospitalized with Covid in New York State were admitted for other reasons.
It’s true that some of these incidental Covid hospitalizations still cause problems. People who have been diagnosed with the virus may be at risk. Patients must be isolated from any Covid cases. (“Hospitals are in serious trouble,” Ed Yong writes in The Atlantic.)
Many cases of Omicron in hospitals are not considered to be a risk to the patient. Omicron is so contagious it has infected many people vaccinated, likely increasing the hospitalization rates.
The death gap
The relatively low risk of getting vaccinated is evident in the data on deaths from New York City and Seattle. These numbers reveal a sharper gap between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not.
One caveat: death trends tends to lag case trends by approximately three weeks. Given the rapid rise in cases, it is almost certain that there will be an increase in deaths among those who have been vaccinated. These deaths will likely be concentrated among people in vulnerable health, including the elderly and those with a serious underlying medical condition like a previous organ transplant — especially if they’re not boosted.
This likelihood — along with the problem of overwhelmed hospitals — is one of the strongest arguments for taking steps to reduce the size of the current Omicron wave. Experts say that more vaccine mandates and indoor mask wear can reduce the number of cases and, therefore, deaths.
The early data suggest that there is a possibility that the rise in deaths among the vaccinated may remain modest. The gap in the mortality charts above can’t merely be a reflection of the lag between the cases and deaths. Unvaccinated New Yorkers and Seattleites died in December, when they had already seen a rise in deaths. However, the number of people who had been vaccinated has not increased.
These charts show that Covid deaths in Boston and Chicago have also increased.
The bottom line
Vaccination is highly effective in preventing severe Covid illness. Omicron is less severe than earlier versions. The combination means that most Americans — including children and vaccinated adults — face little personal risk from Omicron.
Even for people who are generally healthy, the risk is not zero. It is, however, very low. Every day, people face small risks.
The situation is different for those who have not been vaccinated. Omicron can still cause severe illness and death in many people who are not vaccinated. In much of the U.S., a large number of adults — including older adults — remain unvaccinated:
Georgia Beats Goliath
It’s been a good year for Georgia sports. Atlanta won the World Series. The Conference Finals was won by the Hawks. And last night, Georgia beat Alabama, 33-18, to win college football’s national championship.
Georgia’s stifling defense, which was the best in college football all season, intercepted Alabama’s quarterback in the final minute and returned it for a touchdown to seal their first title in more than 40 years.
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Georgia was in the long shadow of its neighbor for many years. Alabama has been to nine national championship games since 2010, winning six. Georgia hadn’t beaten Alabama once in those years. Its head coach, Kirby Smart, had never beaten his former boss and mentor, Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Georgia was not the underdog. Both teams are among college football’s elite — they faced off in a championship game just four years ago — and Georgia entered the season with the country’s best recruiting class.
“Top-tier recruits quite often choose schools with histories of contending for championships, so the Alabamas and Georgias of the world more or less reload annually,” our colleague Alan Blinder, who covers college sports, told us. Don’t be surprised if you see one, or both, back in the title hunt next year.
Find out more: Here’s how Georgia won. — Tom Wright-Piersanti, a Morning editor
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Source: NY Times