Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases In The U.S. 5 Things To Know

COVID-19 Breakthrough Cases In The U.S. 5 Things To Know ACROSS AMERICA — The death of Colin Powell has once again put a spotlight on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and the likelihood that those who are fully vaccinated may contract the disease.

Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state and Joint Chiefs chairman, died of complications of COVID-19, his family said Monday on social media. The 84-year-old was fully vaccinated, his family said.

Powell’s battle with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, may have impaired his body’s ability to fight off the disease; however, so-called “breakthrough cases” in vaccinated persons still remain rare.

RELATED: Colin Powell, Former Joint Chiefs Chairman, Has Died At Age 84

Here’s a look at the status of breakthrough cases in the United States:

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If I’m vaccinated, how is it possible to still get COVID-19?

While COVID-19 vaccines are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control, no vaccine is 100 percent effective at preventing illness. Some people will get sick even if they’re vaccinated. Others may even die.

Still, evidence supports the claim that vaccination could make the illness less severe for those who are vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The risk of infection, hospitalization and death are also much lower in vaccinated persons compared with unvaccinated people.

How many breakthrough cases have been reported?

As of Oct. 12, the CDC had received reports of 31,895 breakthrough cases in the United States. Of those cases, 7,178 cases resulted in death.

As of Oct. 19, there have been 726,274 deaths in the United States attributed to COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That means fully vaccinated patients account for less than 1 percent of all COVID-19 fatalities.

Here’s another perspective: More than 189.3 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This means only 2 out of every 10,000 vaccinated Americans — or a fraction of a percent — have contracted COVID-19.

Are some people more susceptible to breakthrough cases than others?

While the CDC is still studying patterns and characteristics that may make people more susceptible to breakthrough infections, trends are starting to emerge.

About 70 percent of breakthrough cases requiring hospitalization have been in adults 65 and older, the latest CDC data shows. This population also accounts for 87 percent of breakthrough deaths.

A study recently published in “The Lancet” medical journal mirrors the CDC’s findings: The median age of a small group of seriously ill yet fully vaccinated patients hospitalized with COVID-19 between March and July was 80.5 years.

Will a booster shot reduce my chances of a breakthrough infection?

Some studies have shown that after you get vaccinated against COVID-19, protection may decrease over time, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, data from a clinical trial showed that a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot increased the immune response in participants who received their first two doses six months earlier. An increased immune response usually means improved protection.

Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech booster has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It was approved for use in the following groups:

People 65 and older, nursing home residents and assisted-living residents.
People ages 18 to 64 with health problems including cancer, diabetes, asthma, HIV infection and heart disease. Being overweight or obese is a category that qualifies roughly 70 percent of people in this age group.
People ages 18 to 64 who are health care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of being exposed to the virus.
Last week, an independent panel for the FDA endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Both have yet to be officially authorized for emergency use.

Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, said on Twitter that Powell’s death and others like his are a clear example of why boosters are needed for vulnerable people.

“Yes, Colin Powell died of a breakthrough infection. That is why boosters are recommended for people at high risk for severe COVID-19,” Rasmussen tweeted. “Yes, that means vaccines aren’t 100% effective. No, that doesn’t mean that vaccines are 0% effective.”

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