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ASU expert: 'A pandemic of the unvaccinated'

Data shows an 'overwhelming' number of hospital patients with COVID have not been vaccinated.
Credit: Adobe Photo

ARIZONA, USA — The latest analysis of Arizona's COVID statistics confirm national trends: hospital beds are increasingly filled with unvaccinated people and the state is seeing the fastest rise in COVID in kids since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Overwhelming the people who are in the hospital are people who are not vaccinated. So people who are vaccinated are not getting hospitalized much and they are not ending up in the ICUs," said Joshua LaBaer, the executive director of ASU's Biodesign Institute. "Not exclusively, there are a few exceptions here but overwhelming these are people who are not vaccinated. So this is clearly a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

LaBaer presented the latest analysis of the state's statistics Tuesday at the institute's weekly briefing. 

Arizona's caseload has been surging -- there have been nearly 21,000 new cases in the last week and hospital inpatients with COVID are at their highest level since February, according to state health department statistics.

Credit: ASU

The state still has beds, LaBaer said, but they are filling quickly. 

Credit: ASU

Cases are rising mainly due to the Delta variant, he said, which is more transmissible than previous mutations of the virus.

It's safe to get vaccinated while pregnant

LaBaer said it's safe to get vaccinated while pregnant. Studies show women who have been vaccinated while pregnant have not had any side effects from the vaccination. 

The CDC also recommends women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant get the vaccine.

LaBaer explained that since a pregnant woman's body devotes so much energy and effort to the growth and development of a fetus, they are more likely to have harmful side effects from the virus.

Children and COVID-19

There has been a fast rise in child COVID cases, LaBaer said. 

There is currently no vaccine available to children under the age of 12 which may be a reason for a rise in cases in children, he said. 

However, LaBaer is optimistic that a vaccine will be available to children sometime in the fall.

He did note the percentage of children who end up in the hospital is smaller than the percentage of adults. 

Booster shots

Moderna and Pfizer have studied the benefits of receiving booster shots. 

Neutralization, the level of antibodies that prevent infections, lowers over time. So people who have had a vaccine shot longer than five months ago are more likely to have a breakthrough infection rather than someone who was just vaccinated.

A booster shot is recommended eight to nine months after your second vaccine shot to build the immune system.

"Antibodies may drift down over time but those people who've been vaccinated still have a type of an immune cell called a B-Cell that remembers what the virus looks like and will kick in after a couple of days," LaBaer said. And so while people who have been vaccinated may get breakthrough cases within a few days their bodies are already responding and that's why they ... do not end up in the hospital."


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