Scientists from Cedars-Sinai and CDC found among people admitted during the omicron surge, vaccinated adults had a less severe illness and were less likely to land in intensive care.
They also found that during the omicron period fewer patients died while hospitalized (4.0%), compared with those admitted when the delta variant was dominant (8.3%).
The research is published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and was conducted by Matthew Modes et al.
The highly contagious omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 became the dominant strain in the United States in mid-December 2021, coinciding with a rise in hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19.
In the study, researchers looked at the characteristics of 339 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 when the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 was dominant.
They compared that group with 737 patients admitted with COVID-19 during December 2021-January 2022, when the omicron variant was most prevalent.
The team found that in addition to the protection that vaccination offered people admitted to the hospital when omicron dominated, the addition of a booster dose appeared to be particularly important in reducing the severity of illness, especially among older adults.
Unvaccinated patients hospitalized with COVID-19 during the omicron variant dominance still had a higher chance of being admitted with serious complications and appeared to be at higher risk for the development of respiratory failure, compared with vaccinated patients.
Large numbers of hospitalizations during the pandemic have strained health systems throughout the country.
Vaccination, including a booster dose for those who are fully vaccinated, remains critical for mitigating the risk of severe illness associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The team says the more vaccinated someone is–from unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, fully vaccinated without a booster dose to fully vaccinated with a booster dose−the better the outcome for the patient.
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