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Breakthrough COVID-19 cases are expected to become common, experts say

A breakthrough case of COVID-19 isn’t cause for concern, experts said

Cami Nielsen gets tested for COVID-19 in Utah
Cami Nielsen gets tested for COVID-19 outside of the Mount Olympus Senior Center in Millcreek on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

How common are COVID-19 breakthrough cases? They’re becoming more and more likely among the fully vaccinated community, and experts expect them to be even more common in the near future.

Experts recently told Roll Call, a data-driven political news site, that the breakthrough COVID-19 cases will impact thousands of people. And most people, they said, will become infected with COVID-19 at some point in their lives.

  • “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.

The best way to protect yourself from severe disease, though, comes in the form of the COVID-19 vaccine. Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, told Roll Call the vaccines are significantly important to stopping death and hospitalization from the coronavirus.

  • “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.

That doesn’t mean breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are a walk in the park. Will Stone, of NPR, recently had a breakthrough case. He said his arms and legs were aching and he had a fever that “crept up to 103 and every few hours of sleep would leave my sheets drenched in sweat.”

  • “To sum it up, I’d put my breakthrough case of COVID-19 right up there with my worst bouts of flu. Even after my fever cleared up, I spent the next few weeks feeling low,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data from a new study that found unvaccinated people are five times more likely to be infected by the coronavirus and 10 times more likely to be hospitalized from the virus.

Meanwhile, unvaccinated people had a more than 10 times higher chance of dying from COVID-19, according to the CDC.