Why are there COVID-19 breakthrough cases?
Experts have long maintained that the COVID-19 vaccines are not 100% effective and that breakthrough cases — though rare — can happen. These will only increase as the coronavirus becomes more transmissible and spreads farther, experts said.
- Those breakthrough cases are often mild or asymptomatic, with patients experiencing something close to a bad cold.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the U.S. should expect to see more COVID-19 breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated because the vaccines aren’t perfect and the virus is spreading rapidly.
- “I think we all have to recognize that with 164 million people who are vaccinated, we should expect tens of thousands, perhaps, of breakthrough infections,” she said.
- “Those breakthrough infections have mild illness. They are staying out of the hospital. They are not dying, and I think that that’s the most important thing to understand,” Walensky told CNN.
How common are severe breakthrough cases?
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests 99.999% of fully vaccinated people did not have a breakthrough COVID-19 case that led to hospitalization or death, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
What are the severe COVID-19 symptoms in breakthrough cases?
Patients explained their breakthrough cases to The New York Times. Some have their normal run of symptoms. But there are those who end up feeling those worse symptoms.
But The New York Times also spoke with patients who ended up in the hospital because of their breakthrough infection or knew someone who did. One example was a woman who was a cancer patient.
- According to The New York Times, COVID-19 patients with severe breakthrough infections often “are bedridden with body aches, fevers and chills.”
- Some patients lose their sense of taste and smell. COVID-19 rash and brain fog have become breakthrough symptoms, too, per The New York Times.
How to stop COVID-19 breakthrough cases
Dr. John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell, told The New York Times that people need to keep wearing masks to stay safe.
- “If you get infected and breathe virus out, it will get trapped by your mask,” he said. “These viruses don’t have pairs of scissors that can cut through masks.”
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, recently said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the KN95 mask or an N95 mask can offer the best protection against COVID-19, especially the surging delta variant.