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Pfizer, Moderna Covid vaccines 94% effective at preventing hospitalizations in elderly, CDC says


Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines.

Matic Zorman | Getty Images

The PfizerBioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines were 94% effective at preventing hospitalizations among fully vaccinated adults aged 65 and older, according to a real world study published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The two-dose mRNA vaccines were also found to be 64% effective at preventing hospitalizations in the elderly who received just one shot, according to the CDC study. It evaluated 417 hospitalized adults across 14 states from January to March. The U.S. agency said the findings were consistent with those found in clinical trials.

“This multisite U.S. evaluation under real-world conditions suggests that vaccination provided protection against COVID-19-associated hospitalization among adults aged >=65 years,” the CDC wrote in the study. “Vaccination is a critical tool for reducing severe COVID-19 in groups at high risk.”

The CDC study provides more evidence on the benefits of getting vaccinated against the virus, which has infected more than 32.1 million Americans and killed at least 573,420, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Health officials had previously said Covid-19 hospitalizations among older Americans, who are at increased risk for severe disease, have tumbled since the shots first became available in the United States late last year.

As of Tuesday, more than 81% of U.S. adults age 65 and older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to data compiled by the CDC. More than 67% of U.S. adults age 65 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

In a statement Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the agency’s findings were “encouraging and welcome news.”

“The results are promising for our communities and hospitals,” she said. “As our vaccination efforts continue to expand, COVID-19 patients will not overwhelm health care systems – leaving hospital staff, beds, and services available for people who need them for other medical conditions.”

Earlier this week, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Americans should begin to see a turning point in the pandemic “within a few weeks” as the U.S. continues to vaccinate Americans at a rapid pace.

The U.S. is reporting an average of 2.7 million daily Covid-19 vaccinations over the past week, according to data from the CDC, about equivalent to levels one month ago.

If the U.S. continues its vaccination pace, “literally within a few weeks, we’re going to start to see a turning around of the dynamics,” Fauci said Monday during a virtual event hosted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Not down to no infections,” he said. “If you’re waiting for classic measles-like herd immunity, that’s going to be a while before we get there. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a significant diminution in the number of infections per day and a significant diminution in all of the parameters, namely hospitalizations and deaths.”

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