More Questions from Vaccinated People as Cases from Variants Rise

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Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the head of the nonprofit Resolve to Save Lives says,” We have to be humble about what we do know and what we don’t know.  There are a few things we can say definitively. One is that this is a hard question to address.”  That question being, how vulnerable are vaccinated people?

Questions like these are coming on the heels of concerns of booster shots for those people who have already had two shots.  It is also being asked concerning the state of re-opening amid the rising cases of Covid-19 variants.  Over the last year and a half, studies upon studies have been done, and it is tough to decide which will provide concrete information about the safety of vaccinated people. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco says, “It’s quite clear that we have more breakthroughs now, We all know someone who has had one. But we don’t have great clinical data.”

In Provincetown, MA, 469 positive covid-19 tests occurred over the Fourth of July weekend.  According to the data, three fourths of those cases were among vaccinated people. Only 4 hospitalizations occurred, and there were no deaths.  According to the CDC, this made sense considering the majority of the population there is vaccinated.  However, this led them to recommend masks again when gathering.

Gandhi said, “The rate of mild symptomatic outbreaks in this population was higher because of a lot of indoor activity (including intimacy), rain that weekend, not much outside time and mixture of people with different vaccination status.”

Other CDC studies are showing New York has seen an 4% increase from May to July, and another case in Mesa Colorado showed a 7% infection rate as opposed to a 5% infection rate for the rest of the state – however the vaccination rate is lower in that county. The delta variant is also a leading theory for spikes and breakthroughs, but as it stands now there is not enough data on the matter to make a definitive statement.

With the threats of variants and the upticks in infection rates for certain lower vaccinated areas , things we do know for certain are that vaccinated people infected with the virus are much less likely to go to the hospital, they are much less likely to need intubation, and much less likely to die from the illness. 

Breakthroughs are expected for any virus with a vaccine.  No Covid vaccine was 100% effective in trials.  We saw the headlines for months about trials, Moderna and Pfizer being 94-95% effective. 

Friedan said, “It is generally the case that we have to make public health decisions based on imperfect data.  But there is just a lot we don’t know.” He continued, “The big picture here is that the vaccines are working and the reason for the spike in the U.S. is we have too little vaccine uptake.” 

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