Health + Wellness

Rise in Breakthrough Infections Among the Vaccinated

breakthrough infections

Preliminary data from seven U.S. states show that the arrival of the Delta variant in July may be fueling a rise in breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated. The Delta variant has continued to disproportionately affect Black and Latino communities. Although Blacks are contracting the virus at the same rate as whites, they are more likely to die from it, the CDC notes.

At least 1 in every 5 new COVID-19 cases in six of these states have involved vaccinated people, with higher percentages of hospitalizations and deaths among these folks than had previously been seen in all seven states, The New York Times reports.

Still, the absolute number of vaccinated people made sick by COVID-19 remains very low, experts say, and the vaccines are still very potent weapons against severe disease.

If breakthrough infections are becoming more common, “it’s also going to demonstrate how well these vaccines are working and that they’re preventing hospitalization and death, which is really what we asked our vaccines to do,” Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells the Times.

Importantly, a vast majority of vaccinated people who are hospitalized for COVID-19 are likely to be older adults or those who have weakened immune systems. CDC data shows that 74% of breakthrough cases are among adults aged 65 or older.

The numbers suggest that people who are at higher risk for complications from COVID-19, and anyone who lives with a high-risk person, “really needs to seriously consider the risks that they’re taking now,” Dr. Dean Sidelinger, a state epidemiologist and state health officer for Oregon, tells the Times.

READ: Needed or Not: Covid Booster Shots May be on the Horizon

“Remember when the early vaccine studies came out, it was like nobody gets hospitalized, nobody dies,” Dr. Robert Wachter, chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, tells the Times. “That clearly is not true.”

“If the chances of a breakthrough infection have gone up considerably, and I think the evidence is clear that they have, and the level of protection against severe illness is no longer as robust as it was, I think the case for boosters goes up pretty quickly,” Wachter adds.

The seven states analyzed by the Times — California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Virginia — were chosen because

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