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COVID-19 VACCINES

‘The vaccine works’: Covid cases are 10 times lower in those vaccinated, says Italy’s health institute

Analysis shows that infections among people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are much lower than those unvaccinated, according to Italian health authorities.

'The vaccine works': Covid cases are 10 times lower in those vaccinated, says Italy's health institute
(Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

Cases of coronavirus infection are still to be expected among those who are vaccinated, but the number amounts to much fewer than in the unvaccinated, Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS) reported in its latest update on vaccinations.

Published in its FAQ section in relation to Covid-19 cases among those who have been fully immunised, the ISS revealed that Covid-19 incidence among vaccinated people is 10 times lower.

“A comparison of cases tells us that the vaccine works,” stated the ISS.

READ ALSO: Over half of Italy is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19

The findings report a “paradoxical effect” when vaccinations reach a high level of coverage. It can develop to the point where the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths become similar among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

However, when putting these numbers into a ratio format – the number of cases versus the population – the figure is much lower in the vaccinated group.

“These numbers, if read correctly, therefore reaffirm how effective vaccination is,” added the report.

Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP

As vaccine coverage increases, the number of cases decreases due to the effectiveness of the vaccination.

“This means that the few cases among those who are vaccinated may appear proportionately large,” added the ISS.

Over half of Italy’s population over 12 years old – almost 52 percent – have now been fully vaccinated, according to the latest government figures.

The ISS pointed out that it’s “therefore possible and expected” that there are still cases of infection, hospitalisations, admissions to intensive care even among vaccinated people.

However, they reiterate that “these are much lower than among unvaccinated people”.

They also refer to population groups with very high vaccination coverage, which would mean that most of the reported cases could therefore occur among vaccinated subjects, purely because the number of vaccinated people is much higher than that of those unvaccinated.

The findings come after the Italian government is looking into moves to encourage higher rates of vaccination and to curb infections, following a rise in coronavirus rates throughout the country.

This includes making immunisations mandatory for teachers and expanding its ‘green pass’ to access venues and events – granted to those fully vaccinated without further need for testing.

READ ALSO: What do Italians think of the extended Covid ‘green pass’ scheme?

Speaking about concerns and loss of confidence in the vaccines, the ISS noted that this reported paradox needs to be recognised.

The institute also noted that the number of people prevented from getting ill from coronavirus isn’t reported – only those who fall ill despite getting the vaccine is.

They argued that the vaccination is effective in protecting the population, although they concede that its efficacy is not 100 percent.

“We currently know that anti-Covid-19 vaccination, if the full vaccination cycle is carried out, protects 88 percent from infection, 94 percent from hospitalisation, 97 percent from admission to intensive care and 96 percent from a fatal outcome of the disease,” the report read.

However, the update also warned that if the virus circulates due to lack of vaccination coverage among the population or if restrictions are not adhered to, there is a greater risk of the virus being transmitted to people who are vulnerable to severe disease, even if vaccinated.

READ ALSO: How many people in Italy still aren’t vaccinated?

Moreover, this also creates a greater danger of new variants appearing, according to the ISS.

The Delta variant has been predicted to overtake the currently dominant Alpha variant in Italy, as the summer season unfolds and more gatherings take place.

And vaccinations alone aren’t enough, according to Andrea Crisanti, director of the department of microbiology at the University of Padua.

Speaking to Rai news, he said the Delta variant is “one step away from becoming vaccine-resistant, so the less it is transmitted the better.”

For further details on the current coronavirus situation in Italy, see the Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Member comments

  1. Until they give the vaccine to everyone, includjng those without the tessera sanitaria its not going to end.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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