If you’re young, healthy, and vaccinated, “you’ll be in a pretty good place,” said Dr. William Schaffner, vaccine consultant at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “You will be well protected.”
Data from Northwell Health shows that of the roughly 2,000 people hospitalized for Covid-19 there in May, June and July, about 80% were over 60. About 90% had an underlying health condition such as hypertension or diabetes.
Vaccination status was also critical. The vast majority of hospitalized patients were out of date on Covid-19 vaccines. Those who were current and stayed in the hospital were mostly over 65 years old.
Dr. Jill Kalman, Northwell’s chief medical officer, noted that when Covid patients are hospitalized, they are much better than they once were.
“The death rate is very low right now: around 2%, and during the Delta it was between 10 and 12,” he said. “And if they end up in the ICU, they don’t stay that long. In the first wave, we were seeing patients in ICU for 15, 20, 30 days, and now it’s a very small fraction of that.”
CNN reported the data to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said it coincided with her recent statement that “we are in a much better place than we are”.
He added that national data from April to June show that hospitalizations are about four times higher for people over 50 compared to younger adults.
CDC to tailor messages to specific groups
For other measures, the CDC is expected to adapt the guidelines to high-risk groups more than before the pandemic.
Recommendations regarding the Covid-19 screening test also vary by group. The CDC document obtained by CNN states that the agency will not recommend it for most settings, but will advise that it can be helpful in high-risk community settings such as nursing homes.
Schaffner, a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, says it makes sense to further tailor messages at this point in the pandemic.
“When a patient or someone in the community asks me for advice about Covid, the first thing I always say is, ‘Who are you? What is your vaccination history? What is your age? What are your underlying comorbidities? Is it a high-risk group?”
Age and vaccination status predict your chances of being hospitalized with Covid-19
Northwell data looks at 1,961 patients at 21 hospitals between May 1 and July 31. The data includes people admitted because they have Covid, not patients who were admitted to hospital for other reasons and subsequently tested positive for the virus.
Of these hospital patients, 66% were over 70, 15% were in their 60s, and 8% were in their 50s.
89% of patients of all ages had an underlying health condition such as hypertension, diabetes, or coronary artery disease.
Of all patients hospitalized for Covid, 47% did not receive a single Covid vaccine, 21% received only one or two vaccinations, and 32% were fully vaccinated and boosted. Of this last group, 78% were 65 years or older.
Schaffner noted that it would be important to know how much time has passed since their last vaccination, as the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines has decreased for the group who was hospitalized despite their current vaccinations. set.
“These data suggest that older people and people with underlying comorbidities should be very careful with their vaccination status and wear masks if they go inside or participate in group activities,” he said.
In general, although young, healthy, vaccinated, and empowered individuals largely recover from hospitalization, some stay in the hospital and others become sufficiently ill and are out of work or school for extended periods of time.
CDC has ‘hard’ data issues
The Northwell data is in some ways more useful than the CDC’s national data, as it can link hospital patients to their vaccination status.
“Statistics from Northwell can give us a more detailed sense of data, some of which we don’t necessarily have to intersect with the national data we have access to at the CDC,” Walensky told CNN.
Walensky has called for improving the data that states send to the CDC.
“We really needed to take our data into the 21st century and get us to a place where our systems were talking to each other,” he said. “These data issues are really tough.”
CNN’s Danielle Herman and Brenda Goodman contributed to this report.
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