As Western Cape hospital admissions increase amid the COVID-19 third wave, Dr Marc Mendelson has yet to see a vaccinated person develop COVID pneumonia, in need of intubation or ICU in his high care ward at Groote Schuur Hospital, reports News24.
Currently, 3 631 infected patients are battling the disease in hospitals across the province, 748 of them in high care or ICU. According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the region accounts for most of the newly diagnosed cases at 27%.
On Wednesday, notes News24, 38 984 people were infected, with 3 830 of those diagnosed within the past 24 hours. Of the 414 830 people who have been infected with COVID-19, 15 525 had died. The current seven-day moving average is 108 deaths daily, while 1 219 744 people have been vaccinated.
Mendelson, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine at Groote Schuur, has seen first-hand the vaccine’s impact. “Over the past few weeks… [in] my COVID high care ward, I have not seen a single person there who has been vaccinated. Sadly, the same cannot be said for patients who were taking Ivermectin.”
The Western Cape, anticipating the third wave, increased the number of intermediate and acute care COVID beds in the public sector from 1 681 in the first wave to 2 690 in the third, while three field hospitals have been activated with a ward on standby.
Mendelson said the vaccination took, on average, 21 days to "induce the sort of level of immunity that we would be looking for".
"Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine, whereas the Pfizer/BioNTech requires two doses, and will only give maximal protection after the second. However, even after the first dose, we know there is significant protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death."
Data from the Western Cape’s Health Department confirm that just a fortnight after their first Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, people older than 60 are already benefiting from the protective effect of the jab and are less likely to be admitted to hospital or die from COVID-19 than their unvaccinated peers.
BusinessLIVE reports the findings as being consistent with trends in other countries using the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two shots several weeks apart to provide optimal protection. SA provides a second vaccine six weeks after the first.
About 35% of the Western Cape population aged 60 and above were more than two weeks past their first Pfizer dose by July 1, but accounted for only 28% of registered cases, 22% of hospital admissions and 18% of deaths due to COVID-19, said Western Cape head of health Keith Cloete.
“The message is vaccines work. They work specifically for preventing severe disease and hospitalisation, and prevent deaths,” he said.
The data offer hope as the province does battle with its third surge in infections, which has yet to peak.
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