Of the more than 76 million Americans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, there were only 5,800 infections post-vaccine, or .008%.
These “breakthrough cases” of fully vaccinated individuals who develop coronavirus are not unexpected, experts note. The vaccines are 100% effective at preventing succumbing to a severe case of coronavirus, but are not 100% protective against being infected. Because of this, fully vaccinated people are still urged to wear masks and avoid mass gatherings to protect themselves and others.
The CDC’s findings come from the tracking of such cases by the state’s and the self-reported numbers from 40 state’s health departments, the Wall Street Journal reported. Doctors are studying these infections to see which strain caused it, and if some mutated strains are more resistance against the vaccine than others.
Of the cases, 29% of the breakthrough infections were asymptomatic, and 7% were hospitalized. Out of the approximately 76 million Americans who were fully vaccinated, 5,800 became sick after, and of those 5,800, 74 died of the coronavirus.
“You will always see some breakthrough infections no matter the efficacy of your vaccine,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease official, said. “Before people get excited about the quantitative number of infections, they need to understand what the denominator is, and we’re going to see breakthroughs in numbers that are going to be well within the 90%, 95%, 97% effectiveness rates of the vaccines.”
David Hirschwerk, an infectious-diseases physician at Northwell Health System, told the WSJ there are several reasons why a vaccinated person can become infected. If the person is elderly or has a weakened immune system, they might not have produced a vigorous immune response to the vaccine, leaving them more vulnerable than other healthier people who have been vaccinated.
It’s also possible that if a person attended an event that turned out to be a superspreader, they would have been exposed to so much coronavirus it overwhelmed the body’s defenses.
Even if a person comes down with the virus after being vaccinated, the shot protects them from the worst of the disease. “The experience so far is that the vaccine remains highly effective and those who did have breakthrough infections have had very mild and manageable illnesses,” said Dr. Hirschwerk, who compared it to the annual flu virus, which protects people from developing a serious case of the flu.