More than 30% of fully vaccinated adults in Minnesota have received booster doses of COVID-19 amid a pandemic wave that continues to put pressure on hospitals.
State health officials have urged boosters to tackle declining immunity in early vaccines who suffer from an increasing rate of infections from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
People might be concerned about a new omicron viral variant found in South Africa, but they shouldn’t overlook the current risk in Minnesota, said Michael Osterholm of the Center for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota ranks second among U.S. states for its booster dose rate, but Osterholm said there were still too many vaccinated people at risk.
“Every day they haven’t received a booster, they are becoming more susceptible to infection,” he said.
On Monday, Minnesota reported a total of 94,671 coronavirus infections among fully vaccinated people in the state, including 655 people who died from COVID-19. While the total breakthrough infections represent just 2.9% of Minnesota’s 3.3 million fully vaccinated individuals, the rate rose this fall.
Fully vaccinated people accounted for 43% of coronavirus infections identified in the week starting October 24, according to the state’s most recent weekly breakthrough data. The 64 deaths from COVID-19 among those vaccinated that week outnumbered the 53 among those unvaccinated.
The risks of serious illness remain significantly higher among unvaccinated Minnesotans, who continue to experience the majority of infections and hospitalizations despite making up less than a third of the state’s population.
Immunity appears to wane six months after vaccination, again endangering Minnesota’s first vaccinees without a booster. The first beneficiaries included the elderly and those with underlying health conditions who are at greatest risk of severe COVID-19.
The state reported 44 more deaths from COVID-19 and 4,450 coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing Minnesota’s total in the pandemic to 9,382 deaths and 899,739 infections. Thirty-four of the deaths reported on Monday were among the elderly and 14 were residents of long-term care facilities. The youngest death reported Monday was a Pine County resident aged 35 to 39.
The rate of new infections in Minnesota over the past seven days is the highest in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No infections in Minnesota or the United States have involved the omicron variant, but Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state’s surveillance system is looking for it by genomic sequencing of positive samples.
“If an Omicron variant infection is found in Minnesota, we will share that information as soon as possible,” said Malcolm, who encouraged people to get vaccinated, wear masks in crowds and get tested. they show symptoms or viral exposures.
The omicron variant has raised concerns because of how quickly it has become a dominant strain in South Africa. The variant also has properties that could allow it to evade immunity, although the earlier beta and gamma variants posed this threat and did not become dominant strains in the United States.
Alternatives to vaccination might be needed if early warnings turn out to be true that omicron both spreads rapidly and escapes vaccination, said Dr Frank Rhame, virologist at Minneapolis-based Allina Health. really break through the vaccine. “
COVID-19-related hospitalizations on Friday rose in Minnesota to a record 1,467 in 2021, and included 340 people in intensive care.
A sign of hope in the state’s data was a stabilization of the COVID-19 diagnostic test positivity rate at 10.9%, which could indicate a stable or declining rate of viral spread.
The impact of the holidays on infection levels is not clear, however. The number of infections rose sharply after Thanksgiving weekend in 2020, but declined thereafter. Earlier this fall, a brief drop in coronavirus numbers emerged at least in part following a decrease in testing over the MEA weekend.
Osterholm said infection numbers over the next week will not be reliable indicators of long-term trends in COVID-19 in Minnesota.