By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNESOTA (WCCO) – The HealthPartners Institute announced the results of two vaccine efficacy studies Friday afternoon, calling them “highly protective” against COVID-19 including the Delta variant.

According to the statement from HPI, researchers looked at more than 30,000 urgent care visits, emergency department visits, and hospital admissions during June and July after the Delta variant was commonly found in the U.S.

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The researchers determined that the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in conjunction with COVID-19 hospitalizations, emergency, and urgent care visits remained similar to the vaccine efficacy prior to Delta variant surge.

“People have been speculating about how effective COVID-19 vaccines are against the Delta variant and we now have evidence that suggests these vaccines are still very protective,” said Malini DeSilva, MD, an investigator with HPI and co-author on the study. “These vaccines remain the best way to prevent severe COVID-19, protect yourself, loved ones, and community.”

Experts say this new data confirms other recent research that validates vaccine effectiveness.

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On Sep. 8 the New England Journal of Medicine also published a study authored by the same group of researchers, looking at vaccine effectiveness from January to June when the Alpha variant began to surge.

The study also suggested vaccines remain effective against the original strain of COVID-19.

Minnesota health officials reported Friday 2,050 more cases of the virus and 18 more deaths in the state. The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health puts the state’s cumulative case count at 666,496 while the death toll has reached 7,892.

The latest figures show that 72.3% of Minnesotans 16 and older have received at least one vaccine shot while 93% of those 65 and older have received one dose.

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In total, more than 6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state, and 83,000 people have gotten a third dose.