Today’s New England Journal was chock full of articles on Covid 10 vaccines. Take home message. You are 18 times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid 19 if you are unvaccinated.
Here’s the abstract of the first article:
There are limited data on the effectiveness of the vaccines against symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) currently authorized in the United States with respect to hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), or ambulatory care in an emergency department or urgent care clinic.
We conducted a study involving adults (≥50 years of age) with Covid-19–like illness who underwent molecular testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We assessed 41,552 admissions to 187 hospitals and 21,522 visits to 221 emergency departments or urgent care clinics during the period from January 1 through June 22, 2021, in multiple states. The patients’ vaccination status was documented in electronic health records and immunization registries. We used a test-negative design to estimate vaccine effectiveness by comparing the odds of a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 infection among vaccinated patients with those among unvaccinated patients. Vaccine effectiveness was adjusted with weights based on propensity-for-vaccination scores and according to age, geographic region, calendar time (days from January 1, 2021, to the index date for each medical visit), and local virus circulation.
The effectiveness of full messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccination (≥14 days after the second dose) was 89% (95% confidence interval [CI], 87 to 91) against laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection leading to hospitalization, 90% (95% CI, 86 to 93) against infection leading to an ICU admission, and 91% (95% CI, 89 to 93) against infection leading to an emergency department or urgent care clinic visit. The effectiveness of full vaccination with respect to a Covid-19–associated hospitalization or emergency department or urgent care clinic visit was similar with the BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 vaccines and ranged from 81% to 95% among adults 85 years of age or older, persons with chronic medical conditions, and Black or Hispanic adults. The effectiveness of the Ad26.COV2.S vaccine was 68% (95% CI, 50 to 79) against laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection leading to hospitalization and 73% (95% CI, 59 to 82) against infection leading to an emergency department or urgent care clinic visit.
Covid-19 vaccines in the United States were highly effective against SARS-CoV-2 infection requiring hospitalization, ICU admission, or an emergency department or urgent care clinic visit. This vaccine effectiveness extended to populations that are disproportionately affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Here’s the second. Antibody levels (humoral response) drop over time.
Despite high vaccine coverage and effectiveness, the incidence of symptomatic infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been increasing in Israel. Whether the increasing incidence of infection is due to waning immunity after the receipt of two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine is unclear.
We conducted a 6-month longitudinal prospective study involving vaccinated health care workers who were tested monthly for the presence of anti-spike IgG and neutralizing antibodies. Linear mixed models were used to assess the dynamics of antibody levels and to determine predictors of antibody levels at 6 months.
The study included 4868 participants, with 3808 being included in the linear mixed-model analyses. The level of IgG antibodies decreased at a consistent rate, whereas the neutralizing antibody level decreased rapidly for the first 3 months with a relatively slow decrease thereafter. Although IgG antibody levels were highly correlated with neutralizing antibody titers (Spearman’s rank correlation between 0.68 and 0.75), the regression relationship between the IgG and neutralizing antibody levels depended on the time since receipt of the second vaccine dose. Six months after receipt of the second dose, neutralizing antibody titers were substantially lower among men than among women (ratio of means, 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55 to 0.75), lower among persons 65 years of age or older than among those 18 to less than 45 years of age (ratio of means, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.48 to 0.70), and lower among participants with immunosuppression than among those without immunosuppression (ratio of means, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.46).
Six months after receipt of the second dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine, humoral response was substantially decreased, especially among men, among persons 65 years of age or older, and among persons with immunosuppression.
And the third:
On July 30, 2021, the administration of a third (booster) dose of the BNT162b2 messenger RNA vaccine (Pfizer–BioNTech) was approved in Israel for persons who were 60 years of age or older and who had received a second dose of vaccine at least 5 months earlier. Data are needed regarding the effect of the booster dose on the rate of confirmed coronavirus 2019 disease (Covid-19) and the rate of severe illness.
We extracted data for the period from July 30 through August 31, 2021, from the Israeli Ministry of Health database regarding 1,137,804 persons who were 60 years of age or older and had been fully vaccinated (i.e., had received two doses of BNT162b2) at least 5 months earlier. In the primary analysis, we compared the rate of confirmed Covid-19 and the rate of severe illness between those who had received a booster injection at least 12 days earlier (booster group) and those who had not received a booster injection (nonbooster group). In a secondary analysis, we evaluated the rate of infection 4 to 6 days after the booster dose as compared with the rate at least 12 days after the booster. In all the analyses, we used Poisson regression after adjusting for possible confounding factors.
At least 12 days after the booster dose, the rate of confirmed infection was lower in the booster group than in the nonbooster group by a factor of 11.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 10.4 to 12.3); the rate of severe illness was lower by a factor of 19.5 (95% CI, 12.9 to 29.5). In a secondary analysis, the rate of confirmed infection at least 12 days after vaccination was lower than the rate after 4 to 6 days by a factor of 5.4 (95% CI, 4.8 to 6.1).
In this study involving participants who were 60 years of age or older and had received two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccine at least 5 months earlier, we found that the rates of confirmed Covid-19 and severe illness were substantially lower among those who received a booster (third) dose of the BNT162b2 vaccine.
Bottom line: All the vaccines are effective. Antibody levels related to the Pfizer vaccine decline over time. Getting a booster helps to reduce the risk of serious illness and any illness in those 60 and over, at least in Israel.