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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Most COVID patients in Colorado remain unvaccinated, even as omicron blurs the picture of hospitalization

The percentage of unvaccinated Colorado residents hospitalized with COVID-19 is lower than it was in the fall, but people who get vaccinated still appear to be better protected against serious illness.

During the peak of the delta wave, from mid-November to late December, between 80% and 86% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 on any given day were not vaccinated, according to the state. The percentage began to decline on New Year’s Eve and hovered around 70% this week.

But it appears that those who are most seriously ill are more likely not to be vaccinated. At UCHealth, about 82% of COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit and 91% of ventilated patients had not been vaccinated as of Thursday morning. No one is tracking the vaccination status of all patients in intensive care units or on ventilators across the state.

Due to the more contagious micromicron variant of COVID-19, interpreting the number of hospitalizations and vaccine effectiveness has become a little more difficult than in previous waves, according to Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection control and prevention at UCHealth.

During the fall wave caused by the delta, the number of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 but needed care for something else in the first place was “minimal,” she said. This week, however, about two-thirds of UCHealth’s COVID-positive patients were admitted for some other reason.

On the final day, only about one-third of the 355 patients who tested positive for the virus received oxygen or drugs used to treat severe COVID-19, such as the steroid dexamethasone or the antiviral remdesivir, Barron said. The health system is still analyzing the data to see if these patients are unvaccinated, she said, with a disproportionate likelihood.

Barron, who works with organ or bone marrow transplant patients, said all the people she recently saw who were vaccinated and had COVID-19 were there because of other infections or accidents.

This is notable because people with suppressed immune systems are one of the groups most vulnerable to severe breakthrough infection, although the number of people she saw was too small to draw a scientific conclusion. One patient who became seriously ill with the virus was not vaccinated, she said.

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“The fact that Omicron behaves potentially differently really struck me,” she said.

Until November, the state published data in different ways, so it is difficult to compare the current situation with the end of the third wave in the winter of 2020 or the fourth wave in the spring of 2021.

Looking at weekly data released since January 2021, the percentage of hospitalized patients who are not vaccinated has dropped from 100% to around 75% at times during the delta spike. In part, this simply reflects the state’s vaccination coverage: as of early January 2021, no one was two weeks away from their second shot, meaning the entire population was considered unvaccinated.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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