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Arizona has seen about 50,000 breakthrough COVID-19 cases. Here’s why

Arizona has seen a number of COVID-19 breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated people

The emergency room entrance at Valleywise Health Center hospital in Phoenix.
The emergency room entrance at Valleywise Health Center hospital in Phoenix is pictured on June 10, 2020. Arizona has seen a slew of breakthrough COVID-19 cases among the fully vaccinated population, raising questions and concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

Arizona has seen a slew of breakthrough COVID-19 cases among the fully vaccinated population, raising questions and concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Does Arizona have breakthrough COVID-19 cases?

Arizona has seen about 49,962 confirmed breakthrough cases among the state’s fully vaccinated population, per ABC15.

  • Of those, 376 have died. It’s unclear why they died, though.

The breakthrough cases have been mostly among those who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Of those breakthrough cases, 29,857 received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, 14,553 got the Moderna vaccine, and 5,552 received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Why did so many breakthrough cases get the Pfizer vaccine?

Experts were also concerned that there was a higher share of people who got the Pfizer vaccine, meaning there would be a higher amount of Pfizer recipients who had breakthrough cases since more people got that vaccine overall, per ABC15.

Health experts told ABC15 that the recent surge of breakthrough cases in Arizona is tied to the vaccine’s waning effectiveness, specifically before the third booster shot.

  • “They typically happen when immunity from vaccination begins to wane and before the person receives a booster,” according to Patch.

Are breakthrough cases common?

However, experts recently told Roll Call, a data-driven political news site, that breakthrough cases will become more common as the coronavirus continues to circulate freely among a vaccinated population since the vaccine doesn’t always stop the spread.

  • “It’s likely that everybody will probably get infected with COVID-19 (at some point) because it’s an endemic respiratory virus. The goal is to make sure that at that time, that infection occurs after you’ve been vaccinated so it’s mild,” Amesh Adalja, a doctor and infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Roll Call.

Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, told Roll Call that the vaccine can stop hospitalization and death, which is most important.

  • “If I’m in a little bit of rain and I have an umbrella, I don’t get wet. But if I’m in a hurricane, I’m going to get wet despite wearing an umbrella. That doesn’t mean you can say, all of a sudden, umbrellas don’t work very well. It’s a hurricane,” he said.