In what experts say is already playing out in small numbers in the New South Wales outbreak, unvaccinated people are being disproportionately represented in the intensive care wards across the world as the infectious Delta strain takes hold.
If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re statistically less likely to require extreme medical intervention:
Current numbers from NSW show of the 66 people in ICU, 59 are not vaccinated and seven have had one dose. No one currently in ICU or requiring ventilation has been fully vaccinated.
“In the UK, for example, more than 90 per cent of people have either been vaccinated or recovered from COVID and even they haven’t got herd immunity.
Iceland, a perfect test group:
This was backed by UNSW Kirby Institute virologist Greg Dore, who pointed to the example of Iceland to show herd immunity was “not attainable with the Delta variant”.
Iceland, which has 93 per cent of the population 16 years of age or older vaccinated, reported 2,783 cases over the past 30 days — its largest wave since the pandemic began.
Yet Iceland has had no deaths for the past 30 days attributed to COVID.
And if anyone would know about dealing with highly infectious diseases and the way they spread, it’s Dr Dore:
Professor Dore is Head, Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, and Infectious Diseases Physician, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia. He has been involved in viral hepatitis and HIV epidemiological and clinical research, clinical care and public health policy for 20 years. He has developed extensive national and international collaborations, and is internationally recognized in the areas of HCV natural history and epidemiology, therapeutic strategies for acute and chronic HCV infection, particularly among people who inject drugs, and HCV elimination strategies.
He holds large-scale ongoing public sector research funding from U.S. National Institutes for Health and Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Professor Dore has been President of the Australasian Society for HIV Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), a member of NHMRC Council, and is a NHMRC Practitioner Fellow.
Professor Dore established the St Vincent’s Hospital viral hepatitis service in 1999, and has led its development into one of the leading national and international hepatitis C treatment services, with a particular focus on marginalised populations including people who inject drugs and homeless persons.
Not just Iceland, Singapore - massive population - tiny spaces:
In addition to the Iceland example, Professor Cunningham pointed to a recent study from Singapore that showed the viral load of the Delta strain in an infected person’s nose was similar for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people at diagnosis.
But, he said, the study showed viral loads decreased faster in vaccinated individuals.
He said the study — and the latest live data from around the world — showed it would likely be harder to prevent transmission of the virus even amongst vaccinated people.
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Dr Kylie Quinn, a vaccine expert from RMIT University on Delta and vaccinations specifically:
‘Delta has changed things’ she said.
“But if you’re trying to understand this benefit of vaccination, it’s pretty clear that there’s still really substantial protection for severe illness, hospitalisation and death for all of these vaccines against Delta.”