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Kaiser Family Foundation: Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 among fully-vaccinated people are 'rare'

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Posted at 10:38 AM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 13:38:36-04

With the more contagious delta variant strain of COVID-19 spreading throughout the country, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus are on the rise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), daily COVID-19 deaths have more than doubled from about 180 a day on July 9 to more than 400 a day as of Tuesday. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington also notes that hospital resource use has spiked throughout the country during that same period.

There's also some evidence that the delta variant is causing more vaccinated people to contract the virus. The increase in "breakthrough cases" prompted the CDC to advise some vaccinated Americans to wear masks in certain situations.

However, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), available data shows that breakthrough cases are not contributing to the recent increase in hospitalizations and deaths in a significant way.

The study, released July 30, tracked breakthrough cases as reported by 25 individual state health agencies. In all 25 states, KFF found that the rate of breakthrough cases among those vaccinated is "well below 1%."

In addition, KFF found that the COVID-19 death rate for fully vaccinated patients was "effectively zero" in nearly all reporting states. The lone exceptions were Arkansas and Michigan, where death rates among vaccinated people were 0.01%.

The study also noted that in no state did the hospitalization rate for fully vaccinated people rise above 0.06%.

Breakthrough infections
Kaiser Family Foundation

"Almost all (more than 9 in 10) COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have occurred among people who are unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated, in those states reporting breakthrough data," the KFF study stated.

The study also indicated that the available data indicated that that "COVID-19 breakthrough cases, and especially hospitalizations and deaths, among those who are fully vaccinated are rare occurrences in the United States."

KFF noted that the information on breakthrough events is "still limited and incomplete" because the CDC stopped tracking breakthrough infections in May. The foundation relied on publicly available data from individual state health agencies that track such infections to compile its study.

The CDC and top White House health experts have said that increased vaccinations are the best way to combat the delta variant and the development of new, potentially more contagious mutant strains of the virus.

Bloomberg reports that vaccinations have been on the rise in the U.S. as the delta variant spreads.