Senior man holding covid-19 vaccination record card, giving thumbs up sign

COVID-19 Updates: “Real-World” Research Shows Vaccines Very Effective for Older Americans, U.S. Supplies COVID-19 Aid to India, Updated Mask-Wearing Guidance

Senior man holding covid-19 vaccination record card, giving thumbs up sign

At least 153.1 million cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been diagnosed worldwide as of Monday evening, May 3, 2021, including at least 3.2 million deaths. Healthcare officials in the United States have reported at least 32.4 million positive COVID-19 cases and more than 577,400 deaths. Source: Johns Hopkins University & Medicine 

At least 1.16 billion individual doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide as of Monday evening, including at least 246 million in the United States. Source: GitHub

“Real-world” research shows vaccines very effective for older Americans

Recent assessment of data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that adults ages 65 years and older who are fully vaccinated against COVD-19 are 94% less likely to be hospitalized than people of the same age who are unvaccinated. People ages 65 and older who are partially vaccinated are 64% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than people who are not vaccinated.

Both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) authorized and recommended in the United States protect against COVID-19-related hospitalization among adults 65 years and older, according to the research.

The findings are the first real-world results in the U.S. confirming clinical trial data showing mRNA vaccines prevent severe COVID-19 illness. The findings provide additional support for the CDC’s recommendation for COVID-19 vaccination among people 65 and older in the U.S. population under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the applicable COVID-19 vaccine as the risk for severe illness with COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.

“These findings are encouraging and welcome news for the two-thirds of people aged 65 and up who are already fully vaccinated,” said Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, CDC director. “COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and these real-world findings confirm the benefits seen in clinical trials, preventing hospitalizations among those most vulnerable. The results are promising for our communities and hospitals. As our vaccination efforts continue to expand, COVID-19 patients will not overwhelm health care systems – leaving hospital staff, beds, and services available for people who need them for other medical conditions.”

The assessment reviewed hospitalizations in two U.S. hospital networks covering 24 hospitals in 14 states. Vaccine effectiveness was assessed by comparing the odds of COVID-19 vaccination among hospitalized people who tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 (case-patients) versus those who tested negative (controls). Among 417 participants in the assessment, there were 187 case-patients and 230 controls. Close to half of the patients were more than 75 years old.

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Also noteworthy, while early reports from Israel documented the real-world effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination, including among older adults, those reports only looked at vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In this CDC assessment, both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine products were equally represented.

As expected, the assessment confirmed that vaccination provided no protection to people who had received their first dose fewer than two weeks earlier. It takes two weeks for the body to form an immune response after vaccination.

Two networks previously established to conduct surveillance for serious influenza disease provided the data for this assessment: Hospitalized Adult Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network and Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in the Critically Ill. This assessment is one of many planned COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness assessments to evaluate the real-world benefits of COVID-19 vaccines. Results from these assessments will help inform vaccine policy decisions aimed at saving lives and decreasing serious COVID-19 disease as much as possible.

The CDC continues to recommend that those ages 16 and older in the U.S. receive the applicable COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible under the EUA.

U.S. supplies COVID-19 aid to India

Officials in India are expected to receive more than $100 million worth of coronavirus aid from the United States in response to its outbreak there, according to a report by the Washington Post.

Supplies that were sent late last week included oxygen support, personal protective equipment, therapeutics, and rapid diagnostic tests.

The support comes as India’s Health Ministry reported a global record 379,257 new infections last week and 3,645 deaths, bringing the total number of its confirmed cases to more than 18 million.

Although India is one of the world’s largest vaccine producers, the country has struggled to increase supplies due to shortages of specialized material as global demand increases. Fewer than 2 percent of India’s population is fully vaccinated, compared with nearly 30 percent in the U.S., according to the report.

The U.S. government is also urging its citizens to leave the country as soon as possible because of the dwindling access to medical care. Even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus variants in India, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said.

CDC updates mask-wearing guidance

Fully vaccinated Americans do not need to cover their faces outdoors, unless they are in a big crowd of people they don’t know, according to updated guidelines on the wearing of masks by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The decision reportedly comes due to rising numbers of vaccinations; declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths; and less than 10% of documented instances of transmission of the virus happening outdoors, according to the CDC.

According to a report by the Associated Press, some experts believe the relaxed guidance will help to motivate more people to get vaccinated.

Stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news developments. Visit our Resource Center each week for new COVID-19 updates—plus a variety of other resources for healthcare professionals.

Some patients still prefer J&J vaccine

Despite the pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after reports of potential links to blood clots, it appears that people throughout the United States are still willing to receive the one-shot vaccine.

According to a recent report by the Washington Post, there is no government data yet on whether the halt of the vaccine negatively influenced people about it, but assessments across the country have found that people are eager to get the vaccine.

A clinic run by Indiana University Health saw 1,355 people chose the vaccine recently, compared to 407 who took the Pfizer vaccine, for example.

More than 7 million doses had been dispensed at the time that use of the vaccine was put on hold, which lasted 10 days. The vaccine now comes with a warning about the rare side effect.

There appears to be little of this vaccine available currently, however, according to the Post, citing federal data released that shows only 765,000 doses were allocated this week.