The ravaging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have run far and wide around the world. While current vaccination efforts have been largely successful, there are many ongoing health concerns that go well beyond just the coronavirus and its variants. Some individuals have been reluctant to take one of the approved vaccines or may simply have been unable to get a reservation for the vaccine. One type of pneumonia vaccine may greatly limit the health damage of COVID-19.
A recent Kaiser Permanente study, funded by drug giant Pfizer Inc., showed that the PCV13 pneumonia vaccine may impact the course of COVID-19 for some older adult patients. The study’s results were published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases and showed that members who received the PCV13 vaccine appeared to have fewer incidents of being diagnosed with COVID-19 — and that those who were diagnosed seemed to have less severe overall health issues.
This is one of those studies where the specifics and details cannot be generalized. The study compared patients who received PCV13 against those who received the PPSV23 pneumonia vaccine. The with the PCV13 pneumonia vaccine did receive some protection against COVID-19 while those who received the PPSV23 pneumococcal vaccine did not.
The Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium, or pneumococcus, can be carried by children as well as adults. The study noted that this is typically harmless, but also that this bacterium is well known for causing pneumonia and other diseases in interaction with viruses and that these bacterial-viral interactions may also shape the course of COVID-19.
Those who received the PCV13 vaccine were shown to experience a 35% lower risk of COVID-19 diagnosis versus adults who did not receive that specific vaccine. Those who received the PPSV23 vaccine, which aims to prevent severe pneumococcal disease, saw no beneficial protection.
The senior public needs to strongly consider what this data suggests. Most Phase 3 drug trials for the vaccines were in the tens of thousands of patients. This Kaiser Permanente study evaluated the electronic health records of 531,033 members in Southern California who were 65 years old and older. The period of the study was from March 1, 2020 to July 22, 2020.
The study’s authors looked solely at the data of older patients who also happen to face the highest risk of severe COVID-19. Among the study population, there were 3,677 patients who had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Of those, there were 1,075 patients who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 and there were 334 who died from COVID-19.
For those who were 65 years old and older that received the pneumonia vaccine PCV13 had a 35% lower incidence of COVID-19 diagnosis. There was a 32% lower incidence of COVID-19 hospitalization, followed by a 32% lower incidence of COVID-19 related death.
More details of the study can be found at the Journal of Infectious Diseases site.