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NYC: Data Suggests COVID Vax Highly Effective Against Contagious Delta Variant

Although these statistics are based on vaccine data from January to August, it wasn't until last month that the highly transmissible delta variant became the most dominant COVID-19 strain in New York City

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What to Know

  • New evidence suggests the vaccines are holding up better against the highly contagious Delta variant than anyone realized, according to New York City data released Wednesday. 
  • Although these statistics are based on vaccine data from January to August, it wasn't until last month that the highly transmissible delta variant became the most dominant COVID-19 strain in New York City.
  • When NBC 4 New York ask Mayor Bill de Blasio if the data is too skewed to conditions before the delta variant took hold of city and therefore misleading, the mayor said "it is abundantly clear that unvaccinated people are in real danger and vaccinated people protected. We’ve got to keep showing people those facts.”

New evidence suggests the vaccines are holding up better against the highly contagious Delta variant than anyone realized, according to New York City data released Wednesday. 

Mayor de Blasio revealed new health department figures which show that between Jan. 17 and Aug. 7 only 0.33% — or one-third of one percent — of COVID-19 cases in the city are breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated, with 0.02% having been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 0.003% having died due to complications with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, 96.9% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 97.3% of COVID-19 deaths in New York City were in people who were unvaccinated -- a group that is 13 times more likely to end up hospitalized.

The report says that vaccine breakthrough cases “remain uncommon” but have increased in recent weeks which it attributes to the delta variant and higher levels of community spread in the city.

But the Health Department says, “the most recent data show the crude case rate for unvaccinated people remains 3.1 times higher than it is for fully vaccinated people.”

Overall, citywide data shows that the percentage of people who have tested positive across the past 7 days is decreasing citywide while the hospitalizations and confirmed deaths are stable at approximately 88 and 7, respectively.

Table 1: Very few fully vaccinated New Yorkers are being infected and getting severely sick from COVID-19

NYC Dept. of Health

Table 2: Illness, hospitalizations and deaths are overwhelmingly among people who are not full vaccinated

NYC Dept. of Health

“Our new analysis shows that the vaccines continue to be highly effective against COVID-19 illness, including against the Delta variant,” NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said in a statement Wednesday. “The best way that unvaccinated New Yorkers can protect themselves and their loved ones is by getting vaccinated. The data we’re presenting today is real-world and rigorous. The bottom line: vaccines keep you alive and out of the hospital.”

Although these statistics are based on vaccine data from January to August, it wasn't until last month that the highly transmissible delta variant became the most dominant COVID-19 strain in New York City.

When NBC 4 New York asked Mayor Bill de Blasio if the data is too skewed to conditions before the delta variant took hold of city and therefore misleading, the mayor said "it is abundantly clear that unvaccinated people are in real danger and vaccinated people protected. We’ve got to keep showing people those facts.”

Last week, the New York State Department of Health revealed a study that vaccination against COVID-19 continues to offer significant protection against severe illness, even though the vaccines are becoming less effective at stopping infection with the delta variant of the virus.

Our new analysis shows that the vaccines continue to be highly effective against COVID-19 illness, including against the Delta variant.

Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, NYC Health Commissioner

The new data go hand-in-hand with comments by the CDC director that there is "concerning evidence of waning vaccine effectiveness" against the delta variant.

The New York department released a study in conjunction with the CDC looking at infections and hospitalizations in New York between the weeks of May 3 and July 19. Over that timeframe, the DOH said, the vaccines lost about 12 points of effectiveness at preventing infection, down to just under 80 percent.

But against illness severe enough to require hospitalization, the vaccines were undaunted -- 95.3 percent effective in the first week of the study.

The new data arrives with 19 days until the start of school — with a new vaccine pitch. On Wednesday, in Times Square, kids and parents got to meet costumed heroes. As in — the Avengers. With a new vaccine incentive: get vaccinated and get a special edition comic.

The special issue comic is titled "We Are Resilient." So far only 20,000 copies are available to those who get vaccinated.

It’s just the latest offering from the city that’s gone from baseball tickets - to museum visits - to cold hard cash. And now…comics. 

“Our hope is the avengers get people to realize many superpowers we already have," Chokshi said.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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