PR scientists: Data analysis shows efficacy of COVID vaccinations
By John McPhaul
The Puerto Rico Scientific Coalition, appointed by the Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, and the Puerto Rico Department of Health (DH) have collaborated on an analysis of databases which allows public health authorities, for the first time, to understand in a basic way the impact of vaccination in the island population, comparing it with infections, hospitalizations and deaths, the government announced Wednesday.
To achieve this, scientists from the Coalition and the DH partnered to combine the vaccination databases (PREIS) with the evidence databases (BioPortal). Puerto Rico is among the first jurisdictions (if not the first) to achieve a detailed analysis of infection cases and vaccinations. Combining the databases allows quantifying and scientifically examining the effects of the vaccine in the Puerto Rico population.
The report can be accessed on the DSPR dashboard https://covid19datos.salud.gov.pr/#informes or in this link of the Scientific Coalition: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JHdsirVwhOgQ8YvA5s6Fm2ReIAMvBsHk/view?usp=drive_web
According to a statement, the analyses show that vaccination has had a positive effect in reducing the impact of the pandemic in Puerto Rico. The effect of vaccination can be seen at three levels: reduction in infections, reduction in hospitalizations, and reduction in deaths from COVID-19.
The analysis confirms that the vaccine protects against contagion. Since the beginning of vaccination in Puerto Rico last December, 92.5 percent of the cases detected with diagnostic tests correspond to unvaccinated people (62,042/67,081). In this sense, a comparison taking into account the age and gender of those infected and the size of the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups reveals that the risk of contagion for unvaccinated people is almost seven times greater than for those who are vaccinated.
Although vaccination dramatically protects against the possibility of infection, some 5,039 vaccinated people in Puerto Rico have been infected with the virus. This is predictable and expected, since the vaccine reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of infection. However, it is seen that the cases of infected “vaccinates” have caused confusion among the population, and have been used, incorrectly, to promote misinformation that the vaccine does not work. The Coalition emphasized that the population of infected vaccinates is a minority of infections (7.5 percent of all infections observed), precisely because the vaccine works.
“Scientific data at the population level clearly show that the vaccine protects against infections, even in the Delta variant scenarios, where the risk of contagion for unvaccinated people is about three times higher compared to people fully vaccinated. Sixty percent of the Puerto Rican population is vaccinated and we estimate that if the vaccine did not exist, there would be tens of thousands of infections in addition to those we see today,” the Coalition said in a written statement. “Even more importantly, it is our observation that when a vaccinated person becomes infected with COVID-19 in Puerto Rico, they are significantly more protected from medical complications than an unvaccinated person. For example, we observed that only 4.5% (154/3,449) of all COVID-19 hospitalizations correspond to fully vaccinated people. Our analysis reveals that the risk of COVID hospitalization for an unvaccinated person is 12 times that of a vaccinated person. Even in the context of the Delta variant, the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization for unvaccinated people is about eight times higher compared to fully vaccinated people. We estimate that without the vaccine, we would have more than a thousand additional hospitalizations for COVID-19.”
The vaccine also protects, and dramatically, against medical complications that result in deaths from COVID-19, the Coalition said. The study found that 97.5% (746/765) of total COVID-19 deaths correspond to unvaccinated people. A comparison taking into account the age and gender of those infected, and the size of the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups, reveals that the risk of death for unvaccinated people is around 25 times greater than for a vaccinated person. Even with the arrival of the Delta variant, the risk of death from COVID-19 for unvaccinated people is around 15 times higher compared to fully vaccinated people.
“To put this number in context, the risk for an unvaccinated person is similar to the increased risk of lung cancer caused by smoking,” the Coalition said. “We estimate that the vaccine has saved several hundred lives so far this year.”