Hospitalizations rising among fully vaccinated Americans, Fauci says

COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising among people who are fully vaccinated, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease. 

Fauci discussed what was driving virus surges in hot spots around the U.S.  “What we’re starting to see now is an uptick in hospitalizations among people who’ve been vaccinated but not boosted,” Fauci said Tuesday.  “It’s a significant proportion, but not the majority by any means.”

This news comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews applications from both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for emergency use authorization of their booster shots, and could grant them as soon as this week.

Fauci did not specify during the interview by how much the rate of hospitalizations for fully vaccinated people is increasing. But he has stressed in the past that he is worried that declining efficacy of vaccines could lead to a new surge in the winter.

A recent study from the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California, found that the overall effectiveness of the three Covid vaccines available in the U.S fell from 87 percent in March to 48 percent by September.  The Moderna jab was the most effective, but still fell with the risk of infection being reduced from 89 percent to 58 percent. The Pfizer shot’s efficacy declined from 87 percent protection to 43 percent and the J&J shot dropped from 83 percent to 13 percent.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency has seen waning vaccine efficacy, particularly among high-risk groups such as the elderly and those long -term care facilities. 

“Although the highest risk are those people who are unvaccinated, we are seeing an increase in emergency department visits among adults aged 65 and older, which are now again higher than they are for younger age groups,” she said. 

She added that recent data have shown that COVID-19 cases are also lower among nursing home residents who have received a booster compared to those who have not. Walensky also noted that the risk of hospitalizations and death is still greatest for those who are unvaccinated.

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