A new study published by Beaumont Health finds that COVID-19 vaccines prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death.
The study, published Thursday in the open access Lancet Regional Health journal, observed over 11,000 adult patients at Beaumont hospitals who visited emergency rooms between Dec. 15, 2020, and April 30, 2021, due to COVID infection, identifying patients who were unvaccinated, partially vaccinated and fully vaccinated.
The study found that COVID-19 hospitalization rates were 91% lower in fully vaccinated people compared to those who were unvaccinated. Officials say that emergency room visits among fully vaccinated people peaked at 1.29 visits per 100,000 vaccinated people in Michigan, while emergency room visits among those unvaccinated peaked at 22.61 per 100,000 unvaccinated people in Michigan.
“This study proves what we anecdotally already knew: vaccination protects you from severe COVID infection requiring emergency care, hospitalization and death,” said the study’s lead author, emergency medicine physician Dr. Amit Bahl, director of Emergency Ultrasound for Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. “The main point is your odds of going to the hospital for COVID if you’re vaccinated is almost zero. You might get ill; you might feel bad for a couple of days. But you’re typically not going to go to the hospital and you’re not going to die.”
The study also found that only 1% of patients hospitalized with COVID during the study period were considered “breakthrough” cases, meaning those individuals were infected with the virus despite being fully vaccinated for it. Officials say those with breakthrough cases who required hospitalization and developed severe illness were “typically older and much sicker with other underlying health conditions.”
While officials say the findings announced Thursday reiterate that the vaccines are effective, the research was conducted before the more highly contagious delta COVID variant began surging throughout Michigan and the nation at the beginning of the summer, which has raised concern over the vaccine effectiveness against ever-developing variants. The delta variant has reportedly become the dominant COVID variant in nearly all of the 174 countries where it has been detected.
Recent studies have shown that the effectiveness of COVID vaccines do appear to wane over time, prompting officials to approve and prepare to roll out “booster shots” -- or third doses of mRNA vaccines -- to help increase individuals’ immunity against the virus. Still, scientists say that the data shows that breakthrough cases make up only a small fraction of COVID-19 cases.
The study published Thursday also examined outcomes for patients who were hospitalized in emergency rooms with COVID-19. Their analysis showed that regardless of vaccination status, elderly patients with “significant co-morbidities” -- such as diabetes, heart or pulmonary disease -- who required hospital treatment for a COVID infection were more likely to suffer severe outcomes.
Of those observed in the study, the average age among COVID patients was 53 years old. The report says that those observed who were fully vaccinated, became ill and ultimately died -- eight people in total -- were over the age of 65. A total of 384 unvaccinated COVID patients observed in the study died, including patients as young as 21, the report reads.