COVID Infection More Protective Than Vaccines Amid CA Delta Surge

CALIFORNIA — People who experienced a previous infection with COVID-19 were more equipped to handle the delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, California and New York health officials reported last week.

According to a report conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, protection was highest for those who were both vaccinated and had recovered from a prior infection.

The results do not apply to omicron since the analysis was conducted before the variant became dominant in California. The evidence also does not change vaccination recommendations, CDC officials noted.

Data was gathered from May through November in both California and New York.

"The understanding and epidemiology of COVID-19 has shifted substantially over time with the emergence and circulation of new SARS-CoV-2 variants, introduction of vaccines, and changing immunity as a result," officials wrote in the study.

The study was also conducted before booster shots became available to the general public.

READ MORE: 6 Things To Know About Omicron's Risks On The Job In CA

"Outside of this study, recent data on the highly contagious Omicron variant shows that getting a booster provides significant additional protection against infection, hospitalization and death," Dr. Erica Pan, California's epidemiologist said in an email to Reuters.

The new report comes as the state continues to experience a surge of the omicron variant with a high testing positivity rate of 21.2 percent, state officials reported this week.

The variant appeared to cause less severe disease than delta, but the sheer volume of omicron cases has threatened to overwhelm California's already short-staffed hospitals.

"We need to monitor very closely hospital beds," Dr. John Swartzberg, a professor of vaccinology and infectious disease at the University of California, Berkeley, previously told Patch in an email. "If they start to fill, reimposing mandates may be necessary."

The omicron variant has become difficult to dodge and cases are on an upward trajectory in California.

The state's high case numbers alone would have triggered a lockdown under delta. But experts argued that hospitalizations, not case numbers, should be the metric to monitor with omicron.

"What's somewhat unique about this surge is the disconnect between case rates, hospitalization rates and death rates," Dr. Timothy Brewer, a professor of infectious disease at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Patch.


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And even as the surge began to crest at the start of the year, officials in Los Angeles were urging the public to postpone and avoid nonessential gatherings amid the omicron variant's heightened transmission levels.

"We need to be extraordinarily cautious when there’s this much community transmission. We’ve actually never had this much community transmission at any other point during the pandemic," Ferrer said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

This article originally appeared on the San Francisco Patch