Almost 40% of people hospitalized in the US with the Covid subvariant that circulated this spring were vaccinated and boosted, highlighting how new strains have mutated to more readily escape the immunity offered by current shots.
The findings from scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscore the importance of having Covid shots that are better at targeting omicron subvariants.
From the end of March through May, when the omicron BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 subvariants were dominant in the US, weekly hospitalization rates increased for all adults — with those over 65 hit the hardest. Even so, the total number of hospitalizations remained much lower than when the delta variant was rampant last fall.
The overall number of hospitalizations is an important point, said Abraar Karan, an infectious disease doctor at Stanford University.
CDC scientists found that vaccines and boosters did a better job of keeping people with delta infections out of the hospital than those with later variants. Effectiveness decreased slightly with the BA.1 variant, then changed significantly with BA.2 — with a much greater share of hospitalized adults who had been vaccinated with at least one booster.