A recent study by Denmark recorded that Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines are showing a sharp decline in their effectiveness against Omicron variant of COVID-19. Some media outlets, however, interpreted it as vaccinated people being more prone to omicron.
“Interpretation that our research is evidence of anything but a protective vaccine effect is misrepresentative,” Astrid Blicher Schelde, one of the study’s authors quoted.
Why are Omicron variant cases surging rapidly?
Experts are of the view that omicron has replaced delta variant to become the most dominant variant of all, and is more transmissible. It is transmitting indoors even after practicing social distancing. This combined with the new variant has led to a surge, surpassing the delta variant.
Are unvaccinated people bearing the brunt of the surge?
According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unvaccinated people are about 6 times more likely to test positive than vaccinated people, and 9 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 14 times more likely to die from COVID related complications.
The new variant has the capability to replicate itself at a higher speed, and if unvaccinated individuals carry the virus more than vaccinated, there’s a high possibility that it’ll pass on to others. In this case, the vaccinated individuals would only have mild symptoms, since the vaccine shots trigger multiple defenses in their immune system, reducing the effectiveness of Omicron, whereas the unvaccinated will be more prone.
Are vaccinations effective?
The people are doubting the effectiveness of vaccines because it does not prevent the disease from entering the body. However, Dr. Greg Schrank, epidemiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, says that the objective of vaccine is not to completely prevent an individual from infection, but prevent them from severe outcome like hospitalization. He added that vaccinated people spread lower amount of virus for a shorter time. It also reduces the burden on healthcare system.
Keeping the hospitals free would mean that hospitals will less likely postpone admitting critical patients, surgeries, long emergency room wait times, and so on.
What should you do?
Doctors are still advising people to practice COVID-19 protocols; the social distancing norms have not yet changed. Wearing mask, avoiding crowds and getting vaccinated are still necessary for protecting yourself from catching the virus.