Lack of clear public health information, people who have been vaccinated are confused about how to protect themselves
Anecdotes tell us what the data cannot provide: the rate of coronavirus infections among vaccinated people seems to be alarmingly high. But how often is unclear, nor is it sure how likely they are to spread the virus to others. Now, people are increasingly worried that people who have been vaccinated may be more susceptible to serious diseases than previously thought.
Without scientific research with specific answers, public policy makers and corporate executives can only make plans based on scattered information. Although some people are updating the mask regulations or postponing the reopening of offices, others insist on doing so on the grounds of lack of clarity. All this will make people feel like a mess.
Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and head of the non-profit organization Resolve to Save Lives, said: “We must be humble about what we know and what we don’t know.” “There are a few things we can say clearly. . One is that this is a difficult problem to solve.”
Due to the lack of clear public health information, vaccinated people are confused about how to protect themselves. Their vulnerability is a key variable, not only for public health officials trying to figure out when they might need to intensify injections, but also for deciding whether to cancel and reopen in the new wave of viruses. On a smaller scale, these unknown factors make music lovers uncertain whether they can watch a concert, and trigger a new round of anxiety among parents about what the school will look like.
Instead of the answer, a large number of case studies have emerged that provide some different pictures of breakthrough infections. Variables including when the survey was conducted, whether there are delta variants, the number of people vaccinated, and even the weather at the time make it difficult to compare results and speculate patterns. It is difficult to know which data may ultimately be more important.
“Obviously, we have more breakthroughs now,” said Monica Gan, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco. “We all know that someone has had this experience. But we don’t have good clinical data.”
One of the most famous outbreaks among the vaccinated people occurred in the seaside town of Provincetown, Massachusetts. On the weekend of July 4th, thousands of vaccinated and unvaccinated people gathered on dance floors and family gatherings. Celebrate this holiday-like a turning point in the epidemic. Of the 469 cases of infection, about three-quarters were vaccinated.
The authors of the CDC case study said this may mean that they are as likely to spread Covid-19 as people who have not been vaccinated. Even so, they warned that as more people get vaccinated, it is natural that they will also account for a larger share of Covid-19 infections, and this study is not enough to draw any conclusions. This incident prompted the CDC to withdraw its recommendations issued a few weeks ago, and once again urge vaccinated people to wear masks under certain circumstances.
Nevertheless, according to Gandhi, the specific details of that cluster of cases may make this outbreak particularly bad.
She said in an email: “Due to the large number of indoor activities (including intimate activities), the rain that weekend, the lack of outdoor time, and the mixing of people with different vaccination status, the outbreak of mild symptoms in this population The ratio is higher.”
At the same time, a larger New York State infection case study released by the CDC found that the number of breakthrough infections has steadily increased since May, and by mid-July, it accounted for almost 4% of cases. These researchers warn that factors such as relaxation of public health restrictions and the rise of highly infectious delta variants may affect the results.
Another CDC case study in Colorado found that the breakthrough infection rate in one Mesa county was significantly higher than in other areas of the state, at 7% and 5%, respectively. The report suggests that this may be because delta variants are spreading more widely there, but it also points out that the age of Mesa patients and lower vaccination rates may have played a role.
The Israeli research seems to support the view that the protection against serious diseases will diminish within a few months after vaccination, and recently, breakthrough cases may eventually lead to an increase in hospital admissions. This information is preliminary, and serious breakthrough cases are still rare, but it supports the situation that some people need to intensify injections in the coming months.
Case studies and data from some states in the United States also show that breakthrough cases have increased over time. But with the increase in delta variants, it is difficult to judge whether the reduced immunity to any type of coronavirus infection should be blamed, or whether the vaccine is particularly ineffective against delta variants. Of course, you can also have both. Changes in the behavior of vaccinated people may also be a factor, as they will return to social gatherings, travel and dining indoors.
In summary, at this point, some facts have been established. Vaccinated people who are infected with the virus are less likely to need to go to the hospital, less likely to need intubation, and less likely to die from the disease. There is no doubt that vaccines provide important protection. But a large part of the country—almost 30% of American adults—has not been vaccinated, a fact that conspired with the highly contagious Delta variant to push the United States into a new wave of outbreaks.
Frieden said: “The overall picture here is that vaccines are working, and the reason for the surge in the United States is that our vaccine intake is too small.”
To a certain extent, breakthrough cases of any virus are expected. In clinical trials, no Covid vaccine is 100% effective—even the best vaccine has never been. The more the virus spreads, the greater the risk of breakthrough cases. It is also common for certain aspects of viral immunity to naturally weaken over time.
Currently, there are more questions than answers. Did breakthrough infections increase due to delta mutations, decreased immunity, or return to normal life? Are vaccinated people more likely to develop serious diseases than previously thought? How common is breakthrough infection? This is anyone’s guess.
“Usually, we have to make public health decisions based on imperfect data,” Frieden said. “But we don’t know much.”