A new, large-scale Beaumont Health study of COVID-19 patients across Southeast Michigan confirms that vaccination prevents hospitalization and death.
After analyzing de-identified data for 11,834 COVID-19 patients treated at Beaumont emergency centers, the researchers determined the hospitalization rate and emergency center visit rate was 96% lower in fully vaccinated patients than unvaccinated patients.
They also found fully vaccinated patients with breakthrough COVID-19 infections comprised only 1% of COVID-19 emergency care visits during the study period. Within that group, those who required hospitalization and developed severe illness were typically older and much sicker with other underlying health conditions.
The study was published today in Lancet Regional Health – Americas, an open-access medical journal focused on high-quality, evidence-based research.
“This study proves what we anecdotally already knew: vaccination protects you from severe COVID infection requiring emergency care, hospitalization and death,” said the study’s lead author, emergency medicine physician Dr. Amit Bahl, director of Emergency Ultrasound for Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. “The main point is your odds of going to the hospital for COVID if you’re vaccinated is almost zero. You might get ill; you might feel bad for a couple of days. But you’re typically not going to go to the hospital and you’re not going to die.”
The analysis showed that there were only 1.29 emergency center COVID-19 visits per 100,000 persons among fully vaccinated individuals, while during the same period Beaumont emergency departments saw 12.88 per 100,000 partially vaccinated patients, and 22.61 per 100,000 unvaccinated patients.
This study proves what we anecdotally already knew: vaccination protects you from severe COVID infection requiring emergency care, hospitalization and death.Dr. Bahl
“What this data shows us is that the need for emergency care and/or hospitalization due to breakthrough COVID-19 is an exceedingly rare event in fully vaccinated patients,” said Dr. Barbara Ducatman, chief medical officer of Beaumont, Royal Oak. “As vaccination has increased within our region, emergency visits among fully vaccinated individuals have remained low and occur much less frequently when compared to unvaccinated individuals, demonstrating the vaccines’ effectiveness in preventing severe COVID-19 infection.”
Unfortunately, the study also showed that elderly patients with significant co-morbidities who required hospital-based treatment tended to suffer more severe outcomes, regardless of vaccination status.
“This study emphasizes that we need to be very protective of our elderly, shielding them from potential exposure, knowing that they can be so vulnerable,” Dr. Ducatman said. “That is especially true for those who may suffer from diabetes, heart or pulmonary disease or other co-morbidities.”
The retrospective study evaluated de-identified medical records for 11,834 patients, age 18 and older, who came to emergency rooms at Beaumont’s eight hospitals between Dec. 15, 2020 and April 30, 2021 and tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 10,880 patients were unvaccinated, 825 were partially vaccinated, and 129 were fully vaccinated. The average age of the patients was 53 and 52.8% were women.
Researchers looked at the rate of COVID-19 emergency care and hospitalization for patients who were unvaccinated versus partially and fully vaccinated. They also looked at whether those patients eventually landed in the intensive care unit, required the help of a ventilator or died.
In the fully vaccinated group, all eight deaths and six intubations occurred in patients over the age of 65. In the unvaccinated group – a much larger cohort – 384 died; patients as young as 21 died while hospitalized, and patients as young as 19 required mechanical ventilation.
Four patients in the unvaccinated group were so severely ill that they required assistance of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, compared to zero instances in the partially and fully vaccinated patients. ECMO provides oxygenation of the patient’s blood, taking over the function of the patient’s lungs to give the lungs a chance to heal.
What this data shows us is that the need for emergency care and/or hospitalization due to breakthrough COVID-19 is an exceedingly rare event in fully vaccinated patients.Dr. Ducatman
The most significant difference between the vaccinated and unvaccinated was seen during April 2021, when Michigan was experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases. The study showed the need for emergency care and/or hospitalization due to breakthrough COVID-19 was exceedingly rare in fully vaccinated patients, even as the number of COVID-19 cases in the community rose dramatically.
“Lancet Regional Health – Americas” is one of six new medical publications available to both medical professionals and the public focused on six regions of the world: the Americas, Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific. The journals are a spin-off of The Lancet, a highly regarded, independent, international weekly general medical journal published since 1823 to advance the practice of medicine.