Hospitalizations and death rates among the elderly in the US are falling, marking hopeful signs that a Covid-19 vaccination push aimed first at older Americans is bearing fruit, a media report said.
Deaths tied to US nursing homes where the elderly tend to stay have plummeted and newly reported deaths recently fell below 1,000 for the first time in more than four months, Xinhua news agency quoted The Wall Street Journal newspaper as saying.
Public-health researchers caution the pandemic is far from over, especially as newly reported US cases plateau after a steep decline and more infectious coronavirus variants spread. But as this happens, “the Americans who have long faced the highest mortality risk are increasingly protected”, the report said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites vaccinations among people aged 65 and higher for this downward trend. This group has on average represented about four of every five Covid-19 deaths in the country since the pandemic began, death-certificate data show.
“The people who die tend to be older,” said Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. “And we’ve vaccinated a lot of people over 55 now.”
CDC data showed that 71 percent of this age group had received at least one vaccine dose, compared with 27 percent of the general population, by Friday.
“We’re seeing less severe disease in the highest risk population, that’s probably in large part due to the vaccine,” said infectious-disease doctor James Lawler, co-director of the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Nearly 46 percent of people 65 and over are fully vaccinated. The age-based vaccination strategy may be starting to show up in hospital data.
A CDC surveillance system that tracks preliminary data from select states, including California and New York, shows steep declines in the rate of hospitalizations among the oldest Americans in recent weeks. The percent of all hospitalizations made up of people at least 65 years old has also been falling, the hospital data indicate.