As Americans prepare for the prospect of another hard winter ahead in the country’s fight against the coronavirus, given the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron variant, more people are encouraged to vaccinate and vaccinate as soon as possible. There’s a New Sense of Urgency – Now Dominating in America
An ABC News analysis of federal and state data found that since July, the number of successful coronavirus cases has accelerated, thus increasing the number of individuals who test positive after being fully vaccinated.
While federal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is incomplete, accounting for only a subset of states, the analysis found that between April and November, more than 16,700 vaccinated people had died – more than the beginning of The vast majority since. The Delta variant boomed earlier this summer. Similarly, nearly all – about 96% – of the 1.8 million success cases – have occurred during the same time period.
By comparison, in those select states, at least 5.8 million unvaccinated Americans had tested positive, and only 64,000 unvaccinated Americans died during the same time period.
Despite the rise in coronavirus infections among people who have been vaccinated, experts say vaccines are strong in their ability to dramatically reduce the risk of serious illness.
Justin Lesler, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told ABC News, “Just because you have a successful infection, it doesn’t mean the vaccine doesn’t work and isn’t going to give you a huge benefit.” Is.”
An analysis of state data shows that the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals who test positive, be hospitalized, or die from the coronavirus is comparable to the percentage of non-vaccinated Americans experiencing serious illness due to the virus. Stays very low. Since the rollout began last winter, only a small fraction of fully vaccinated people in the United States have experienced a successful infection, and an even smaller percentage have been hospitalized or died. Has been.
“I think if you look at the data, it’s clear that the vaccine is working,” Lessler said.
The pivotal transitions captured by the available data are mainly still associated with the delta variant. However, as concerns grow over the potential impact of the Omicron variant, preliminary data suggests that the newer variant may be more likely to cause infections in vaccinated people.
Breakthrough cases becoming more common, data shows
Many vaccines lose their potency over time and are not nearly as effective initially as COVID-19 vaccines. For example, the tetanus vaccine requires a booster shot every 10 years. Other vaccines, such as the flu shot — which, according to the CDC, reduce the risk of flu illness among the overall population by 40% to 60% — are needed on an annual basis.
When COVID-19 vaccines were first launched last December, experts didn’t know how long their protection would last and how the evolution of the virus might affect the vaccine’s efficacy. At the time, both Pfizer and Moderna estimated that their vaccines were more than 90% effective.
By the end of May, several weeks after the vaccine program opened to the general adult population in mid-April, nearly half of Americans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But in the summer and fall, as the highly permeable delta variant took effect, the country began to experience a significant increase in infections, including among those who were vaccinated, as the effectiveness of the vaccines began to decline.
“We have some evidence of vaccine effectiveness,” Eli Murray, assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health, told ABC News. “The chances of vaccinated people becoming infected seem to be higher the closer they are to the date of their vaccination.”
However, reports from health officials and statistics have shown that the infection does not become severe in vaccinated individuals because of the inherent protection from vaccines against serious disease.
CDC data from more than two dozen states shows that between April and June, a total of 77,000 success cases and 1,500 successful deaths were recorded, compared with more than 1.74 million success cases and 15,000 deaths between July and the first week. were recorded. November. It is not clear how many of these people were also boosted.
The federal data was drawn from 27 states, which regularly combine their case monitoring and vaccination information.
State-level data for successful COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths is not publicly available in every state. But data obtained by ABC News from 41 states — which spanned December — echoes the findings of federal data that even though the trend of acceleration in breakthrough infections has continued over the past two months, the percentage of Americans who are fully vaccinated Those who have experienced a success matter are few.
“An important thing to think about to transition successfully is not just the numbers” [breakthrough cases], but what percentage of people who are vaccinated are having a successful infection and is that percentage changing in a meaningful way,” Murray explained.
Like federally compiled data, state-level data from January to December also showed that infections were still relatively uncommon among vaccinated people. Meanwhile, it is extremely rare for a vaccinated person to die of COVID-19.
Data for breakthrough infections, cases and hospitalizations varies greatly by state. Some states provide data for all three variables, while others provide statistics for only one or two variables.
Data from 36 states showed that about 1.37% of those who were fully vaccinated experienced a successful infection between January and December. Similarly, data from 34 states showed that about 0.05% of fully vaccinated Americans experienced a successful case that required hospitalization, and data from 36 states showed Only 0.01% of those who are fully vaccinated have died of COVID-19.
In October, unvaccinated individuals had a 5-fold higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and a 14-fold higher risk of dying from it, according to data compiled by the CDC. Additionally, unvaccinated individuals had a 10-fold higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and a 20-fold higher risk of dying from it than fully vaccinated individuals with a booster.
Success doesn’t mean vaccines aren’t working, experts say
Experts agreed that with more people being vaccinated since the initial vaccination series, and that protection has decreased over time, success cases are to be expected.
“With reduced immunity, new variants and increased population mobility, it is no surprise that we are seeing a rise in breakthrough cases. While success cases will for the most part be mild or asymptomatic, any new cases only advance community transmission and exacerbate the epidemic,” said John Brownstein, PhD, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor.
Although vaccines remain, overall, “very, very effective,” and “extremely effective” against hospitalization and death, over time, protection against infection appears to actually decline, Lessler explained.
“Even if we are seeing a lot of infections, those people are less likely to end up in a hospital clinic than someone who [unvaccinated],” Lesler said.
Both Murray and Lesler compared the COVID-19 vaccine to seatbelts, explaining that even if a person had a car accident, a seatbelt could often, but not always, help prevent significant injury or death.
“Successful transition is no more proof that vaccines don’t work than the fact that a car crash [that] Still sometimes fatal. This is proof that seatbelts don’t work. We use prevention tools because they help reduce our risk of serious illness or death, not because they provide a 100% guarantee that will always keep us safe,” Murray said. Maintaining that latter standard, we will never use any preventive measures because nothing is perfect, and the result will be far more than death and disease and disability.”
From June to September, largely successful hospitalizations affected older Americans as well as those with comorbidities, according to data from the Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health System Tracker. In addition, their average stay in hospital was shorter than those who were not vaccinated.
Over the past three weeks, concerns over Omicron have increasingly surrounded the world. Data from the CDC shows that in the US, the presence of the Omicron variant, which is now dominant domestically, has risen 70% over the past two weeks.
“With the increased communicative capability with Omicron, unfortunately success cases will become even more common,” said Brownstein.
Experts agreed that although much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, it could potentially lead to more successes than previous variants.
“Omicron is going to be more than a major player. This is going to be the main story,” Lesler said, adding that the US could see a significant wave of infections, which could lead to significant systemic challenges for hospitals.
Preliminary data suggests that Omicron not only spreads two to three times faster than the delta version, but may be more likely to cause infection in vaccinated people. Despite this, vaccines and additional booster shot protection still seem to dramatically reduce the risk of serious disease.
Ultimately, personal responsibility will play a major role in preventing the additional spread, experts agreed.
According to the CDC, boosters and vaccines are key to slowing the spread of infection and eventually turning the pandemic around, especially when combined with social distancing, masking and other preventive measures.
“We have the right tools to limit success cases. Testing before traveling or attending a gathering can help prevent exposure to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Similarly, boosters When characters can dramatically reduce the risk of transmission,” Brownstein said.
The CDC currently recommends that all people 16 and older receive a booster shot six months after their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months after the Johnson & Johnson shot.