A new study released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday shows that COVID-19 vaccines have been highly effective in protecting those in the U.S. from severe infection caused by the omicron variant.
The study, which was conducted by the Los Angeles County Department of Health, shows that between Dec. 25 and Jan. 8, people who were unvaccinated were 23 times more likely to be sent to the hospital with omicron compared to those who were fully vaccinated and boosted.
Unvaccinated people were also five times more likely to be hospitalized compared with a person who had been fully vaccinated but had not yet gotten a booster shot.
The study noted that vaccine protection lessened against severe cases from omicron when compared to severe delta variant cases. However, the study also noted that the record rates of hospitalizations were caused not by the virus evading vaccines but because of the virus' extraordinary spread through unvaccinated communities.
"Although the B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant spreads more rapidly than did earlier SARS-CoV-2 variants, recent studies suggest that disease severity is lower for Omicron compared with that associated with the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant; but the high volume of infections is straining the health care system more than did previous waves," the study says.
The study added that those who had been hospitalized despite vaccination were also far less likely to be sent to ICUs or require ventilators.
While the U.S. is still seeing about half a million new COVID-19 cases each day, it appears the peak of the current omicron surge has passed. Daily caseloads peaked at about 800,000 a day in mid-January.
Daily COVID-19 deaths are still on the rise at more than 2,000 a day — a rate not seen since last winter's case surge.