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This group is suffering from severe COVID-19 breakthrough cases more than any other

These fully vaccinated people are suffering from severe illness when they get COVID-19

An illustration representing the delta variant.
An illustration of the delta variant.
Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Doctors in Israel recently said vaccinated people older than 60 and sicker patients are suffering from severe breakthrough cases, which has raised concerns about vaccine efficacy among that group.

Do fully vaccinated people get hospitalized with COVID-19?

Right now, Israel has about 600 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. About half of those have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, according to Reuters.

  • For perspective, about 5.4 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Israel. So 300 out of 5.4 million is only about 0.0055%, per Reuters.
  • Data from the CDC found that 99.999% of fully vaccinated people in the U.S. did not have a breakthrough COVID-19 case that led to hospitalization or death, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

Do fully vaccinated people get severe COVID-19 symptoms?

So who are these fully vaccinated patients who are being hospitalized? Here’s what Reuters found when speaking with 11 doctors in the country:

  • They received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine five months ago.
  • They are older than 60 years old.
  • They have chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, lung ailments, cancer and inflammatory diseases.

These people are suffering from severe COVID-19 because of the continued spread of the delta variant and the waning efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, as experts have suggested.

How the U.S. learns from Israel about COVID-19

The rise in breakthrough cases has been a sign that more people may need COVID-19 booster shots. In fact, United States health officials have looked to Israel’s data since the country “has been offering a coronavirus booster to people over 60 who were already vaccinated more than five months ago,” per The Associated Press. Though some people have suffered breakthrough cases, the booster shots are meant to protect older and more vulnerable people from the delta variant.

U.S. health officials plan to start distributing COVID-19 booster shots beginning in September, following the model laid out from Israel, as I wrote for the Deseret News.