Doctors around the country facing the latest rise in Covid-19 cases, driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, have a straightforward message based on what they see in their emergency rooms: Vaccinations and boosters have a positive effect .
“The general trend that I see is that if you get boosted and you get Covid, you really just end up in the worst case with bad cold symptoms. It’s not like before where you coughed, could not say sentences and was short of breath. , ”Said Dr. Matthew Bai, an emergency physician at Mount Sinai Queens in New York City.
“Of course there are exceptions, like if you start with a very weakened immune system, your immune response will not be as strong with a booster. But in your average person, a booster will definitely make a difference what I see,” he said.
Dr. Joseph Varon, head of critical care and the Covid-19 unit at Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center, said of the approximately 50 patients admitted to the hospital’s Covid unit in the past four weeks that 100 percent of them were unvaccinated.
He said patients to be admitted typically have “shortness of breath, high fever, are dehydrated like a madman.” He said those who are unvaccinated also “have more disease. What I mean by more disease is more pneumonia, not just a little bit of pneumonia, you have a lot of pneumonia.”
“The people who come unvaccinated have a much greater burden of disease in the lungs than those who are vaccinated,” he said.
Meanwhile, those who had received the booster shot were “almost back to normal” within days, he said. Those who had not received the booster have tended to “still feel sick after a week, a week and a half or so,” he added.
Patients who have received the booster syringe may still have symptoms such as sore throat, a lot of fatigue and muscle pain, said Dr. Craig Spencer, Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center. “Those who have been vaccinated but have not received the booster,” looked worse, they looked like they were feeling pretty bad. But again, they did not need to be hospitalized, “he said.
“I do not see people who have been given two doses and a booster and come in deep breath,” he said. “It just does not happen.”
Those who have been vaccinated but have not received a booster have shown symptoms such as more coughing, more fever and more fatigue than those who had received a booster, he said.
Meanwhile, Spencer said almost every one single patient he has seen who was to be admitted was unvaccinated.
“We have known that there are several presentations of this disease that have not changed. What has changed is that we know that those who have been vaccinated are significantly less likely to end up seeing “me in the hospital and had to be admitted. That’s for sure,” he said.
The new omicron variant continues to spread rapidly in the United States, accounting for about 58 percent of all new Covid cases in the week ending December 25, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Early evidence suggests that for most people, at least for those who are updated on their Covid vaccines, omicron appears to be less likely to cause serious illness.
A small study from the CDC published on Tuesday suggested that people who had Covid and are later re-infected with omicron may experience fewer symptoms than they did during their first battle with the virus.
And last week, reports from the United Kingdom showed that people infected with omicron in November and December were about two-thirds less likely to be hospitalized compared to the delta variant.
Doctors still stressed the importance of getting the vaccine and getting a booster, although omicron seems to be less likely to lead to serious illness than delta.
“Especially for those over 50-55, all with underlying medical conditions, we know it can lessen the likelihood that you will have to be hospitalized with severe Covid,” Spencer said.
For those who are younger or without underlying medical conditions, he said, “if you can prevent infections in younger people, you can hopefully prevent infections in older people, their grandparents, their parents or people they see and mingle with, especially around holidays. ”
“So I think from an infection prevention and control point of view, it’s pretty important to get a booster dose in younger people, in addition to the benefits in terms of serious illness,” he said.