Dr Ghassan Kamel is the ICU director at the Saint Louis University Hospital in Missouri, and most of his patients have yet to get the shots needed to be protected.
His patients are younger now than the ones he treated last December, but now he can also see the benefits reaped for those who have been vaccinated.
“We are seeing very sick patients,” Dr Kamel told KSDK.
Two X-ray images provided by SSM Health – both of infected patients, but one from a vaccinated person and one from a person who hasn’t been inoculated – shows the different impacts the virus has on the lungs between people with different vaccination status.
Dr Kamel told the St Louis TV station that the white you see in the unvaccinated person’s lungs is the damage done by the virus. It could be bacteria, mucus, or secretions, KSDK reported.
To protect patient information, specific conditions seen in the X-rays were not revealed. But the doctor said the unvaccinated patient seen in the X-ray image most likely needs significant care.
“They definitely at least would require oxygen and sometimes they would require more than just oxygen. They might require the ventilator or get intubated on mechanical ventilation, sedated, and basically on life support,” Dr Kamel told KSDK and added that healthy lungs filled with air have more black areas on X-ray images.
The X-ray image of the vaccinated individual infected with Covid-19 is a rare breakthrough case – less than one per cent of vaccinated people have been infected, and those who do most often have such mild cases that they may not need to go to the hospital. Some don’t experience any symptoms or may feel like they’ve got a regular cold.
Dr Kamel said most of those who are vaccinated and end up going to the hospital don’t require to be transferred to the intensive care unit or to be put on life support. But exceptions include those who have pre-existing conditions or who are immunocompromised.
The CDC released new data on Friday that shows that those who are vaccinated can spread the disease as easily as the unvaccinated, despite overwhelmingly being safe from the risk of serious disease.
“The vaccine protects you from getting really really sick,” Washington University Infectious Disease Specialist Dr Rachel Presti told KSDK, “but it doesn’t protect you from passing it on to, you know, your neighbours or loved ones.”
This comes as the CDC recently issued new mask guidance asking vaccinated people to once again wear a mask in public indoor areas in places with high transmission of the virus. This includes large areas of the country as the Delta variant spreads across the US.
“If you don’t like the mask, you definitely won’t like the ventilator,” Dr Kamel said, urging people to get vaccinated.
Missouri has recently seen a surge of Covid-19 cases with the 7-day average increasing from under 1.000 cases in early July to more than 2.500 cases in early August, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
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