Vaccines provide greater protection even among health care workers, CMC Vellore study says

The tertiary-care hospital in Tamil Nadu has vaccinated over 8,000 of its staff -- the majority of them with the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and the rest with indigenously manufactured Covaxin.

Vaccines provide greater protection even among health care workers, CMC Vellore study says
Workers prepare a new 250 bedded COVID-19 ward inaugurated in Vellore Medical College & Hospital, on Friday June 4. 2021. (Photo credit: PTI)

Taking two doses of COVID-19 vaccines was able to provide nearly 94 per cent protection for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions due to COVID-19, a study conducted by Christian Medical College in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore has said.

The hospital has vaccinated 8,991 of its staff between January 21, 2021, and April 30, 2021– the majority of them (93.4 per cent) with Serum Institute of India’s Covishield. The rest were given indigenously manufactured Covaxin.

The researchers found full vaccination was 65 per cent effective in preventing infection, 77 per cent effective in preventing hospitalisation and 92 per cent effective in reducing the need for oxygen. The risk of infection among fully-vaccinated healthcare workers, who are more prone to infection, was found to be significantly lower in comparison with the health care workers who were not vaccinated.

The hospital had fully vaccinated 7,080 of its staff, of whom 679 were infected with COVID-19, 64 needed hospitalisation, two needed ICU care and four needed oxygen therapy. Of the 1,878 staffers, who had received only one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 200 developed an infection and 22 needed to be hospitalised. Of the 1,609 staffers who were not vaccinated, 438 were infected by the coronavirus, eight needed ICU care, 11 staffers needed oxygen therapy and 64 staffers were hospitalised.

“The risk of infection among fully vaccinated HCWs was significantly lower when compared with unvaccinated HCWs (Relative Risk (RR) 0.35, 95 per cent Confidence interval (CI) 0.32-0.39),” the study noted.

“Similarly, vaccination with two doses reduced hospitalization (RR 0.23; 95 per cent CI 0.16-0.32), need for oxygen therapy (RR 0.08; 95 per cent CI 0.03-0.26) and ICU admission (RR 0.06; 95 per cent CI 0.01-0.27).”

The researchers noted that only one staff member died in their hospital since the beginning of the pandemic. However, the staffer who passed away had multiple co-morbidities and was not vaccinated.

According to Dr Joy J Mammen, Professor in the Department of Transfusion Medicine at Christian Medical College, Vellore, two doses of the vaccine have significant benefits.

“We were always of the belief that a vaccine would help, but what we were trying to do is to show evidence that rather than looking for levels of antibodies. We took it as the indicator of the efficiency of the vaccine would be to prove if people get infected or not,” Dr Mammen told TV9 News.

“The general message is that whatever the vaccine, please take it. If you get two doses of a vaccine it has significant benefits. If you want to avoid crowded hospitals and stressed health care systems, then vaccines are the way forward.”

Dr Mammen urged people, who are hesitant to take vaccines, to get vaccinated.

“We have now shown evidence that there is protection from the vaccine. This is coming from a health care facility that has vaccinated its own staff members. We didn’t vaccinate somebody else — it is our own health care workers. We believe in the vaccine and we demonstrated that it helps. Whatever people’s assumptions are about the vaccine, we are providing simple, straightforward evidence,” he said.

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