After the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation updated its stance to consider only those who have received three Covid vaccines to be “up to date”, it can be revealed unvaccinated Victorian adults are now 88 per cent more likely to die from a Covid infection than those of the same age who are fully jabbed.
Deputy chief health officer Dan O’Brien said the majority of the death and serious illness during the latest Omicron wave is being born from people who’ve had two doses of the vaccine, including many who had a false sense of security.
“The fact is, it’s not a two-dose vaccine, it’s a three-dose vaccine,” Associate Professor O’Brien said.
“With the two doses, over time that protection reduces significantly so three months or more out from your second dose, you’re starting to really lose your protection and the benefits.
“I just really would love people to really get that concept of the third dose. It’s not just a sort of added window dressing – it’s actually really important and I think those figures really emphasise that.”
The latest Department of Health data shows Victorians who were infected after they had three vaccine shots have been four and half times less likely to end up in hospital than those who have had only two shots since January 1 – and a massive six times less likely to require hospitalisation than the completely unvaccinated.
The analysis of Victoria’s Omicron wave reveals:
• Those with two vaccine doses have been 7.6 times more likely to be in ICU than someone who had three doses
• Someone who was unvaccinated was more than 34 times more likely to be in ICU than someone who had received three doses
• Those who are not vaccinated at all are 4.5 times more likely to be in ICU than someone who had received two doses
The Alfred hospital infectious disease physician and former ATAGI chair Prof Allen Cheng said about one in five of the recorded hospitalised Covid cases had been admitted due to other health concerns, however there was no doubting the impact a third vaccine was having in cutting rates of serious illness.
“Probably the best evidence we have from the UK is that it raised your protection against hospitalisation from about 50 per cent (with two shots) to about 90 per cent (with the shots), so that is quite a lot and broadly what we are seeing in your data.”
“It’s like Russian roulette – most people who get Covid are going to be perfectly fine, but you just don’t want to be the one who gets really sick and people do get really sick with this, we have hospitals full of them.”
As of February 8 there were approximately 268,260 Victorian adults who had not had a single Covid vaccination – yet they accounted for 28.9 per cent of all ICU Covid patients.
By comparison, the 2.4 million triple jabbed Victorians only accounted for 7.9 per cent of ICU admissions, while the 2.5 million to receive two vaccinations made up 60 per cent of intensive care cases.
Since the Omicron wave ramped up on January 1, only one person in every 200,000 to receive a Covid booster has required hospitalisation, compared to 4.6 people in every 200,000 who have had only two shots.
More than 6.1 people in every 200,000 unvaccinated Victorians have had to be hospitalised due to Covid since January 1.
Because older and vulnerable members of the community were the most likely to be fully vaccinated early as well as serious illness, University of Melbourne epidemiologist Prof Tony Blakely said the benefit of triple vaccination may ever greater than demonstrated in the latest figures.
“That vaccination reduces one’s risk of hospitalisation, and if hospitalised reduces your risk of ICU, and reduces your risk of death, is indisputable and massive,” Prof Blakely said.
While it is difficult to compare the ICU, hospitalisation and death data because not all categories are adjusted for age and sex, Deakin University epidemiologist Prof Catherine Bennett said they showed a consistent story: “Vaccination is protecting people from serious illness and hospitalisation, and the reduction in risk is substantial”.
“This added protection from the booster against serious illness and death includes a reduced risk of symptomatic infection in the first place, which is more than halved for at least three months,” Prof Bennett said.
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