A new report on COVID-19 in Ontario has found that vaccines are “highly effective” against catching the infection and especially so against being hospitalized due to the disease.
The report, released Tuesday afternoon by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, found that compared with fully vaccinated people, unvaccinated individuals are seven times more likely to catch COVID-19, 25 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 60 times more likely to be in the ICU due to the disease.
Charts released by the Science Table show a rise in cases and hospitalizations among unvaccinated people during Ontario’s fourth wave of COVID-19, while the rate of positive cases and especially, hospitalization and ICU use by vaccinated people, remains relatively stable over time.
“There are very few things in medicine in my career that I’ve seen that are protective in the way that these vaccines are protective against a severe illness,” said Dr. Fahad Razak, a member of the Science Advisory Table and internal medicine physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
“What the data in Ontario now shows is that vaccines are overwhelmingly protective against COVID-19,” Razak said. “And you can see that effect across the three categories.”
While there are fully vaccinated individuals in hospitals and ICUs — 40 as of Wednesday morning, according to provincial data — it’s a relatively rare occurrence given how many people are vaccinated, Razak said.
“We’re a population of about 15 million people in Ontario. So at that larger population, there will be the occasional individual who still ends up in hospital, who is vaccinated,” he said, adding that the chances are 25 times less for a vaccinated person.
As a physician, he has cared for COVID-19 patients in hospital throughout the pandemic.
“Starting wave three, I personally did not care for a single patient in hospital with COVID-19 who was fully vaccinated. I was only caring for unvaccinated patients,” Razak said.
The report also notes that case numbers, in general, are levelling off in Ontario, and attributes this effect to vaccination rates as well as public health measures like mask mandates.
Razak said he can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting vaccinated.
“In medicine, almost every therapy we give, we talk about the risks and the benefits,” he said. “This is an example with these vaccines where the benefit is astronomically greater than the risk.”
Razak acknowledged there are some individuals who will have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, but that’s “extremely rare.”
“And we’re talking about a vaccine that’s been given out to more than five billion people globally and that has been watched and evaluated very, very carefully, looking for side effects,” he said.
“On the other hand, this data in Ontario and data we’re seeing from across the world just shows how overwhelmingly protective these vaccines are.”