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Study reveals drop in COVID-19 cases not related to vaccines
February 20, 2021 - 7:27 am

Epidemiologists say there could be a few reasons for that decline: we’re past the holiday seasons surge and people changed their behavior in response to the winter spikes. And by now, many people have antibodies against the virus because of a previous infection. But vaccines probably aren’t a driving factor in that drop — not enough people had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when the decline started, and vaccination rates are still relatively low.

Some groups of people, though, have high enough rates of vaccination that the benefits are starting to show. Connecticut was one of the first states to finish vaccinations in long-term care facilities and nursing homes. All residents who wanted a vaccine got their first dose by January 8th, and most were fully vaccinated by the end of January.

These victories are still only in subsets of the population. But even though vaccinations may not be driving down overall case numbers quite yet, we could start to see their impacts on hospitalizations and deaths soon. Older adults, who are the most likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, are among the first groups getting vaccinated across the country. Higher percentages of that group have received shots than in the population at large. As that number ticks up, hospitalizations could start to fall, even if younger people are still getting sick.

Experts point to the 75 to 80 percent threshold as the point when enough people would be vaccinated that the spread of COVID-19 would start to stall out. Still, the vaccines could start flattening overall trends in the US much sooner than that. One modeling study found that if even just 40 percent of the population is vaccinated, cases would fall and hospitalizations and deaths would drop by between 60 and 70 percent.

That isn’t showing up in the data quite yet, and it’s still critical to stick to the COVID-19 prevention measures that are actually driving the US case numbers down: masks, avoiding gatherings, and so on. But there are flickers of hope from the pockets where most people are vaccinated, and eventually, those will start to expand.

Source: The Verge

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