When scientists set out to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, they hoped to create a shot that was at least 50% efficient. This efficiency would be sufficient to control the pandemic and get out of it.
As clinical trials progressed, scientists were stunned to see that vaccines not only hit that 50% threshold, but far exceeded it. And when the plans started to unfold in the real world, the data tenuous.
Vaccines are not perfect, no vaccine is. But the COVID hits are pretty close. So much so that we are already seeing clear signs that vaccines have the power to defeat the coronavirus, allowing us to get out and resume our lives safely.
Here’s how we know vaccines work:
Infections are plummeting as vaccinations increase
We are now seeing the lowest number of COVID cases since June 2020. On May 26, the United States reported a seven-day average of 23 162 cases – it’s a huge drop (which continues to drop) since early January, when the seven-day average was 259,614.
In the United States, cases began to decline when about 40% of the population was vaccinated with at least one dose, which happened around April 14, said Monique Gandhi, infectious disease specialist at the University of California at San Francisco. Infectious disease experts call this moment the inflection point – when there was sufficient immunity in the population to change the course of the pandemic.
Israel hit an inflection point in early March, when 40% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated. After the inflection points in Israel and the United States, cases have steadily declined day by day, week by week.
“It takes a certain number of vaccinations for the cases to start to decrease,” Gandhi said.
Hospitalizations and deaths are on the decline
As soon as we started immunizing the most vulnerable in our population – the elderly and people with chronic illnesses – hospitalization and mortality rate tumbled down.
“You started to see the death rate and hospitalization rate go down once we vaccinated the majority of people over 65,” because these are the people most at risk for serious illness, Gandhi said.
Clinical data has shown us that vaccines essentially eliminate death and serious illness, according to Lucy mcbride, physician in internal medicine in Washington, DC Real world data shows that vaccines are very effective in preventing people from being hospitalized or dying, even when there are variations.
“The actual drop in hospitalizations and deaths is positive proof of the power of COVID-19 vaccines,” McBride said.
Cases in children decline as more adults get vaccinated
In the past four weeks, there has been a 50% reduction in cases of children in the United States, which may be linked to an increase in vaccinations in adults (and young adults). This played in israel, too much.
Vaccines decrease transmission and reduce viral load in communities. This is the concept of herd immunity – when there is enough immunity in a population, through previous infection and vaccination, there is less chance of a disease spreading. .
“Even though children are not vaccinated, the way the unvaccinated are protected in our society increases rates of vaccination or infection – whatever it is – immunity in the rest of us,” said said Gandhi.
Vaccinated people directly exposed to COVID-19 do not get sick
We often hear about rare breakthrough infections in people who are fully immune, but we rarely talk about All the time vaccinated people did not become ill after being directly exposed to someone infected with COVID.
The vaccines were rolled out amid an ongoing pandemic, as infections were actively spreading. This has never been done before. As a result of this dynamic, a good portion of those vaccinated have likely been exposed to COVID-19.
Just look at the The data: Of the more than 123 million people who have been vaccinated, only about 1,600 serious cases have been reported. “Almost by definition, people were exposed,” Gandhi said. COVID is still spreading, but vaccines are preventing tons of infections from happening.
An outbreak at a Kentucky nursing home did not result in serious illness for the majority of those exposed
There was an outbreak at a Kentucky nursing home in which a handful of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated residents and staff contracted COVID-19. It may not seem like a victory for vaccines at first. But if you dig into the data, it’s clear that the vaccines have worked wonderfully.
The person who brought COVID into the facility was not vaccinated – a booster to get you vaccinated, McBride said. COVID is spreading fiercely in nearby neighborhoods like nursing homes, so epidemics are to be expected in these types of settings. But even so, the vast majority of those who were vaccinated in the nursing home were well protected.
“The story of the Kentucky Retirement Home is another vaccine success story. The majority of residents who became infected after vaccination did not show symptoms or become ill, ”said McBride.
The same happened with an outbreak on the New York Yankees
Last but not least, the Yankees outbreak: Eight players and staff who had received Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-May. Of the eight people infected, only one developed symptoms; the other seven were asymptomatic (a sign that the vaccines did their job). Even the symptomatic person had fairly mild illness (another sign that the vaccine did its job).
Many doctors say that a positive diagnostic test does not necessarily equate to infection. Positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests likely only detected small pieces of virus that their immune systems were killing (thanks to the help of vaccines). According to McBride, Yankees players and staff could have gotten much sicker – and possibly even required hospitalization – had they not been vaccinated.
Get these vaccines; they work. And the more people who take them, the better the results for all of us.
Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available at the time of publication, but directions may change as scientists find out more about the virus. Please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most recent recommendations.