Since March, the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations has dropped by half, and in the following months, the number has dropped by four times. This drop is noted both on the category of people over 65 years old, who were vaccinated, and the age group above 45 years old. Independent experts state that the drop of the hospitalizations comes as a result of the natural immunity, while the Public Health Institute states that the vaccination process led to the normalization of the pandemic situation.
Since the beginning of the vaccination process in Albania, on January 11, 2021, 830,281 anti-COVID vaccinations have been reported, of which 328,546 citizens received both doses.
*Data retrieved from Our World in Data
In relation to other countries in the region and Europe, Albania has vaccinated 11% of the population, of which 6.1% has been completely vaccinated. The official website of the Ministry of Health in Albania cites that authorized or approved vaccines will help lower the risk of disease, by safely developing protection (immunity) to COVID-19.
Did vaccination affect the drop in the number of people infected or hospitalized due to COVID-19 when over 6 months have passed from the start of this process?
Faktoje asked the Ministry of Health on the number of hospitalizations at the COVID hospitals from January to May 2021.
* Reply of the Ministry of Health to Faktoje.al
The above table shows that the number of hospitalizations has dropped from March to mid-May 2021. In February, the number of hospitalizations peaked, notably among those over 45 years old, and then steadily declined.
As compared to February, the number of hospitalizations among those over 65 years of age dropped in half in March. In May, hospitalizations dropped with four times as compared to March.
This drop in hospitalizations is noted to be on the same level as other age groups that have not been vaccinated yet (with the exception of categories at risk, doctors, teachers, and police).
Upon obtaining such data, Faktoje contacted the epidemiologist, Dr. Iliri Alimehmeti, to obtain his opinion as to whether this drop corresponds with the vaccination process.
Dr. Alimehmeti stated that vaccination has yet to be reflected on the number of hospitalizations.
“If you see the vaccination process history, massive vaccination started on March 28 upon the arrival of the Chinese vaccine. In order to have full immunity provided by the relevant vaccine, two weeks need to pass after the second dose, which in our case corresponds with mid-May.
Meanwhile, it is very clear that the drop started in February – March. However, the number of vaccinated people is very low (about 10% who have received both doses and 8% who have received one dose), which is very far from the necessary 75%.” – he explained.
Mr. Alimehmeti also stated that the drop of the COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations is mainly the result of natural immunity, with a very high number of people having suffered the virus already.
Unlike Dr. Ilir Alimehmeti, through a WhatsApp conversation, the public health expert Dr. Silva Bino confirmed that the vaccination process did actually affect the drop of hospitalization cases.
*Full reply of Dr. Silva Bino to Faktoje.al
Last weekend, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection reported 12 infections in 24 hours across Albania and zero deaths. It has been reported that 21 COVID-19 infected patients are being treated in the hospital, of whom 6 are under intensive care.
Moreover, “Shefqet Ndroqi” hospital, also known as the COVID 2 hospital, since June 2, returned to its normal activities as a result of the pandemic situation improvement.
The Ministry’s statistics show that the geographical distribution of infected cases indicates that Shkodra has the highest number of infections, with 51 infected people, followed by Tirana, Berat, Elbasan, etc. Vlora and Kukës, on the other hand, have the lowest number of infections, with only 2 cases of infected people each.