A Temple hospital was part of a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows COVID-19 vaccines are 90 percent effective at stopping new infections.
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center–Temple was one of the eight partners with the CDC, monitoring local first responders and medical workers who had been vaccinated.
Dr. Manjusha Gaglani, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor Scott & White, said the decrease in infections by 90 percent was a slight surprise. She said new infections dropped by about 80 percent two weeks after someone got their first shot and by 90 percent after someone gets their second shot.
Gaglani said doctors knew that the vaccines helped reduce the severity of the illness but didn’t know exactly how effective it was at preventing infection entirely.
To get accurate data, which factored in both those who showed symptoms and those who were asymptomatic, the study had those who were vaccinated do a swab for the virus once a week for 13 weeks.
“The question we had from the original clinical trials was does this vaccine prevent infection, not just the symptomatic illness and the severe illness, but actual infections,” Gaglani said. “And because we did weekly swabs, we caught any sign of infection whether it was associated with symptoms or not. So what we have found is what is the effectiveness in the real world in people who get a high chance of exposure.”
The entire CDC study looked at 3,950 participants, spread out over six states, who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Other participating locations included those in the Heroes-Recover network located in cities like Phoenix; Tucson, Arizona; Miami; Duluth, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City. The CDC said the network is a group of prospective cohorts that share a common protocol and methods.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said the results of the study show that the national effort to get people vaccinated is working and effective.
“These findings should offer hope to the millions of Americans receiving COVID-19 vaccines each day and to those who will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated in the weeks ahead,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said. “The authorized vaccines are the key tool that will help bring an end to this devastating pandemic.”
Gaglani said that while people who get the vaccine have a 90 percent chance to resist the virus, the remaining 10 percent means that they could get it and be asymptomatic.
For this reason, Gaglani said it was still important for those who have gotten the virus to still wear masks until a larger percentage of the population is vaccinated. She said for COVID-19 herd immunity to be achieved, it would likely take between 70 percent and 90 percent of the population being vaccinated.
“This is very good for stopping this transmission,” Gaglani said. “Then hopefully the more we get vaccinated and the less transmission we have, we can have herd immunity. Especially for a virus that is this easily transmissible we need high levels of vaccinations.”
For those who would like to know more about the study, Baylor Scott & White officials said people can contact study staff at HCP@BSWHealth.org or call 254-724-8193.