health

Rare 'breakthrough' COVID cases causing alarm, confusion

26 Comments
By LAURAN NEERGAARD

Reports of athletes, lawmakers and others getting the coronavirus despite vaccination may sound alarming but top health experts point to overwhelming evidence that the shots are doing exactly what they are supposed to: dramatically reducing severe illness and death.

The best indicator: U.S. hospitalizations and deaths are nearly all among the unvaccinated, and real-world data from Britain and Israel support that protection against the worst cases remains strong. What scientists call “breakthrough” infections in people who are fully vaccinated make up a small fraction of cases.

“When you hear about a breakthrough infection, that doesn’t necessarily mean the vaccine is failing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease specialist, told a worried Senate panel this week. The shots are holding up, he said, even in the face of the highly contagious delta variant that is burning through unvaccinated communities

Health authorities have warned that even though the COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly effective -- the Pfizer and Moderna ones about 95% against symptomatic infection in studies -- they’re not perfect. No vaccine is.

But it wasn’t until delta variant began spreading that the risk of breakthroughs started getting much public attention. The barrage of headlines is disconcerting for vaccinated people wondering how to balance getting back to normal with more exposure to unvaccinated strangers — especially if they have vulnerable family members, such as children too young to qualify for the shots.

Sports fans are seeing daily reports about infected athletes, from the New York Yankees to the Summer Olympics. With the Games soon to start, Kara Eaker, a member of the U.S. women’s gymnastic team who said she was vaccinated, tested positive in a training camp just outside Tokyo. WNBA player Katie Lou Samuelson pulled out of the Olympics and the 3-on-3 basketball competition after testing positive despite being vaccinated.

And politicians in the nation’s capital are being rattled by reports of breakthrough cases, including from a congressman, Florida Republican Vern Buchanan; some Texas Democratic lawmakers visiting Washington as a political protest; at least two people in the White House and several congressional staff members.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that with 2,000 people on the White House campus each day some breakthrough cases are inevitable, but that the administration will release information if doctors determine any staffer had close contact with the president, vice president or their spouses.

One critical question about breakthrough cases is whether the person actually had symptoms, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told The Associated Press. "Or is this somebody just being sampled out of an abundance of caution because they had to go into some place like the Congress?” he added.

Indeed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said for months that vaccinated people don’t even need to get tested after a virus exposure unless they develop symptoms. The agency cites limited evidence that they’re less likely to infect others than unvaccinated people who get an asymptomatic infection.

But different places have different rules. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson -- who survived COVID-19 early in the pandemic and now is fully vaccinated -- began quarantining over the weekend after contact with someone experiencing mild symptoms from a breakthrough infection.

And rigorous testing is required as thousands of athletes, coaches, officials and media -- not all of whom are vaccinated -- descend on Tokyo for the pandemic-delayed Olympics.

While there's not a specific count, it's clear breakthrough infections are rare. As of July 12, the CDC had tallied 5,492 vaccinated people who were hospitalized or died and also tested positive for coronavirus — out of more than 159 million fully vaccinated Americans. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has said 99.5% of all deaths from COVID-19 are in the unvaccinated.

There isn't a separate count of mild or asymptomatic breakthroughs, although CDC is tracking those through studies such as one that gives weekly virus tests to more than 5,000 essential workers, she told senators.

Breakthroughs tend to be mild because a vaccinated person's immune system doesn't have to start from scratch to fight the coronavirus. Even if the virus sneaks past vaccine-spurred antibodies and starts replicating in your nose or throat, secondary defenses jump into action and usually, “the virus is stopped in its tracks within a few days,” said University of Pennsylvania immunologist Scott Hensley.

There are caveats. The vaccines don’t work as well in people with severely weak immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients.

And the government is watching closely for signs that breakthrough cases, especially serious ones, are rising, because that might signal the need for booster vaccinations.

But meanwhile White House officials want to “normalize” the concept of breakthrough infections for the public, because they're worried that these rare, inevitable events could play into the misinformation wars that have helped to keep millions from rolling up their sleeves.

“The vaccines were developed to keep us out of those terrible institutions we call hospitals,” said Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University. “We have to keep coming back to that.”

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments
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If the shots just make Covid symptoms milder it means that people are less likely to notice they have it and then they won't self-quarantine.

They'll go out and about and spread the virus.

The fact that the vaccines don't stop transmission but simply make symptoms less noticeable is causing the virus to spread more.

-7 ( +11 / -18 )

Hospitals are not terrible institutions. They save lives.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Breakthrough cases aren't rate at all, they're very common and should be expected:

https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/309762

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-04/world-s-most-vaccinated-nation-reintroduces-curbs-as-cases-surge

https://www.scmp.com/news/world/europe/article/3141136/uk-navys-flagship-hit-covid-19-outbreak-en-route-asia

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Breakthrough cases aren't rate at all, they're very common and should be expected

No, they're not "very common", they're rare. And deaths are almost entirely confined to the unvaccinated. Why do you continue to put your own life and the lives of others at risk by denying the undeniable?

https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-941fcf43d9731c76c16e7354f5d5e187

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/16/1017002907/u-s-covid-deaths-are-rising-again-experts-call-it-a-pandemic-of-the-unvaccinated

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-25/nearly-all-us-covid-deaths-in-us-among-unvaccinated/100243160

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/08/covid-vaccines-nearly-all-deaths-hospitalizations-among-unvaccinated.html

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has said 99.5% of all deaths from COVID-19 are in the unvaccinated.

Just to highly the key point of this entire article.

If everyone who could be vaccinated actually was, then the asymptomatic cases wouldn't matter. People who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons, are keenly aware of their risks for all sorts of infections and diseases already.

Fauci said vaccinated people who develop asymptomatic infections have "considerably less" virus in their nasal passages compared to unvaccinated people with asymptomatic infections.

"I think one can make a reasonable assumption, based on the level of virus in the nasopharynx, that it would be less likely that that vaccinated breakthrough person would transmit compared to an unvaccinated person," Fauci said in the briefing.

Get vaccinated.

Any questions?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Yes.

If all of this is true, why do the authorities and the media continue to focus ion infection numbers and react to those with the same idiotic measures (lockdowns, masks)n that have been proven to be pretty ineffective over the last 18 months?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

450 doctors in Japan said the experimental shots should stop immediately

https://www.sanspo.com/article/20210624-IOQJULJCVRMBXMZXIDJG6SDUHA/?outputType=amp&__twitter_impression=true&s=06

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Justin Trudeau of Canada just announced the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th booster shot supply security deal, on national TV. While the COVID vaccine program director David LV Bauer just explained how the Pfizer injection neutralizes the immune system.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

450 doctors in Japan said the experimental shots should stop immediately

You do realise there are over 300,000 doctors in Japan...

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I have been vaccinated for everything since childhood. I have no intention of stopping now. I have had two shots of AZ and if I need a booster I will not hesitate.

Get vaccinated asap.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

If the same anti-vaccine campaign had existed during the effort to rid society of polio, we would still be seeing that disease killing people every day.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Hi 1glenn. Here is a chart comparing DDT use in the United states and Polio cases over a few decades.

http://www.breakfornews.com/newspics/USA-Pesticides-Polio_BW.gif

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If all of this is true, why do the authorities and the media continue to focus ion infection numbers and react to those with the same idiotic measures (lockdowns, masks)n that have been proven to be pretty ineffective over the last 18 months?

That is the thing, health case professionals prefer to act when there is still an effect in the preventive actions instead of waiting until it is too late, and for that following cases is necessary.

Also, lockdowns and masks (and other non-pharmaceutical measures) have demonstrated to be very effective in reducing the spreading of the disease when done properly, that is the opposite of being "pretty ineffective".

450 doctors in Japan said the experimental shots should stop immediately

And yet, they present no data to justify their opinion, nor an explanation for the huge amount of data that contradicts them, their medical licenses just remove the excuse of not knowing this is absolutely necessary.

Justin Trudeau of Canada just announced the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th booster shot supply security deal, on national TV. While the COVID vaccine program director David LV Bauer just explained how the Pfizer injection neutralizes the immune system.

There is nothing wrong with governments securing deals that according to the best science are not thought to even be necessary. Also, how about a link about the "neutralizes the immune system"? it seems quite obvious you completely misunderstand something.

Hi 1glenn. Here is a chart comparing DDT use in the United states and Polio cases over a few decades.

The old The Post Hoc Fallacy. Do you think lack of pirates cause global warming, organic food causes autism and lemons from Mexico produce highway accidents?

https://www.datasciencecentral.com/profiles/blogs/hilarious-graphs-and-pirates-prove-that-correlation-is-not

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

That’s the next downplaying bs. Those obvious breakthroughs are rare, yes, but they also are only the tip of the iceberg. In the not so rare numbers of other breakthroughs the disease only isn’t manifesting, so you although are vaccinated twice, your body is fully infested with significant virus loads, but you’re somewhat lucky. But still don’t celebrate, you might have your organs damaged or suffer from LongCovid and such in the midrange or long run. So don’t tell me, that vaccinations are a success or the problem’s solution. That’s of course not the case here.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

99%+ positive cases come from unvaccinated people.

100% deaths come from unvaccinated people.

Its not socomplicated. Get vaccinated to avoid serious illness or death, or spreading it to someone that may experience serious illness or death.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

FYI The group of 450 'doctors' includes 90 regional politicians, and the leader is an ex-surgeon who now runs a clinic that focuses on 'alternative medicine.'

4 ( +6 / -2 )

DalaiLama,

Thanks for that information. I knew there had to be something suss about that link.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Health authorities have warned that even though the COVID-19 vaccines are incredibly effective -- the Pfizer and Moderna ones about 95% against symptomatic infection in studies -- they’re not perfect.

95% effective in "studies", but in the real world their effectiveness is muc lower.

U.S. hospitalizations and deaths are nearly all among the unvaccinated, and real-world data from Britain and Israel support that protection against the worst cases remains strong. 

The "nearly all among the unvaccinated" only applies to the US!

100% of vaccine deaths (many thousands) come from vaccinated people.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

100% of vaccine deaths (many thousands) come from vaccinated people.

That is still an easy to demonstrate lie, falsely attributing the deaths to vaccines even when the rate is the same in unvaccinated people is obviously disinformation. Vaccines are still the best medical intervention available to prevent infections, complications, transmission and deaths. Much to the desperation of antivaxxer sites that predicted all kinds of disasters that never came to be.

Once people have to repeat known falsehoods to "defend" their opinion it is as good as openly recognizing they have no argument.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Vaccines are still the best medical intervention available to prevent infections, complications, transmission and deaths. Much to the desperation of antivaxxer sites that predicted all kinds of disasters that never came to be.

Typical pumping.

Israeli study claims major drop in vaccine protection; experts don’t believe it.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-study-claims-major-drop-in-vaccine-protection-experts-dont-believe-it/amp/

“Report says protection against serious COVID-19 illness fell to 80%, or 50% for over-60s; government adviser, physician and health statistics expert all criticize research.”

Of course they would. They have been avoiding many facts since this debacle started.

“Vaccine effectiveness in preventing serious COVID-19 infection among the elderly has fallen to 50 percent, according to new Israeli figures, but some prominent experts are saying the data shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

And once again: The antivaxxer moniker appears as a lame attempt to push a failing argument.

Speaks volumes on the quality of the comment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqjIfwCYS1g

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just to highly the key point of this entire article.

If everyone who could be vaccinated actually was, then the asymptomatic cases wouldn't matter. People who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons, are keenly aware of their risks for all sorts of infections and diseases already.

It’s a key point which is false. So no need to advise anyone on it.

Most of these people, including Biden will be gone before year’s end.

Largely a result of similar misinformation.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Vaccines are still the best medical intervention available to prevent infections, complications, transmission and deaths. 

Ivermectin and other meds are just as effective, but not as deadly. Time to let the people have access to these meds.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

And once again: The antivaxxer moniker appears as a lame attempt to push a failing argument.

Valid criticism on the data and the way it is treated is included, if you can't refute the criticism that means you can't dismiss the disqualification of the conclusions. Just because a scientist say something it does not make it "scientific data" and obviously not correct just because of that, for this authors have to discuss their conclusions against contrary evidence.

It’s a key point which is false.

Without a reference to prove it you can't just say it is false, that would be using your authority to defend this conclusion, of which you have none.

Ivermectin and other meds are just as effective, but not as deadly.

According to the experts this is completely false, not only because these drugs have their own negative side effects at higher rates than vaccines (specially when used in people with co-morbidities) but also because they are not effective, much less to the degree that vaccines have demonstrated, and for things like HCQ not in the very least.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Vaccinated don't end up in the ICU nor do they put anyone else there.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Ivermectin and other meds are just as effective, but not as deadly.

According to the experts this is completely false, not only because these drugs have their own negative side effects at higher rates than vaccines

That is clearly false. Ivermectin has been used safely for decades. In less than a year, vaccines have killed several thousands and left many more permanently disabled. One could try to argue that vaccines are still worth the risk for some, but we should not disregard their very serious and not so uncommon side effects.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That is clearly false. Ivermectin has been used safely for decades. In less than a year, vaccines have killed several thousands and left many more permanently disabled.

The opposite, your personal beliefs, that can be proven false are no proof against the scientific proof that those "several thousands" deaths are in the same rate between vaccinated and non vaccinated people, or that ivermectine have well known toxicity that have to be taken in account in treatment and that affects more patients than those that have actually vaccine related problems.

The simple fact you can't get any reference from a recognized scientific or medical institution that shares your mistaken opinions is what makes it so easy to qualify them as mistaken.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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