Wednesday, September 22, 2021

No, Covid Breakthrough Cases Are NOT Less Severe

It amazes me how easily a talking point can take hold despite little to no data to support the claim. At first the pitch regarding the vaccine was a straightforward one. Get the vaccine because it will prevent you from getting Covid and stop the spread. In fact, on March 29th the CDC director explicitly said as much.


Now the narrative has changed and they admit that vaccinated people can get covid and can spread Covid just as easily as unvaccinated…..But now they are claiming over and over again (and the media is repeating) that when someone does get a breakthrough case it results in much less severe outcomes.



But this just doesn’t match-up with the facts. The problem with getting to the bottom of this, however, is that the CDC stopped collecting data on breakthrough cases back in May unless they resulted in hospitalization or death. Because of this you can’t find reliable countrywide data on the percent of breakthrough cases that result in hospitalization or death because you don’t have the denominator.

Also, as pointed here “Holes in reporting of breakthrough Covid cases hamper CDC response”. In many places even the reporting of hospitalizations and deaths is drastically under-reported….so when the media reports aggregate numbers on those they are highly skewed resulting in vaccinated deaths likely being labled unvaccinated because the vaccination status cannot be identified. (some keys from that article are below).





But what happens when we look into some local areas that ARE supposedly reporting this data accurately? We find that once a breakthrough case happens….severe outcomes are NOT dramatically reduced. Let’s take a look at Virginia


So the chance of hospitalization after breakthrough is 927/23344 or 4.0%. This compares to all cases since the start of the pandemic in Virginia of 4.3%. In other words if you get a breakthrough case you have a whopping 0.3% less chance of going to the hospital. For deaths it is 1.0% for breakthrough and 1.5% for all cases (although this counts cases since the start of the pandemic when there were no real treatment options).

How about Washington State? Per their report from September 22nd (breakthrough data through the 11th)


And this compares to their total cases over the whole pandemic seen below


So breakthrough cases resulting in hospitalization in Washington State has actually been 9% compared to 5.6% for all cases…..so actually MORE likely to end up in the hospital if you come down with a breakthrough case in this instance. Death rate is 0.9% for breakthrough cases and 1.2% for all cases. Interestingly enough…..if you count all cases since the same date as the breakthrough calculation Jan 17th — Sept 11th, you actually get pretty much exactly the same death rate as breakthrough (0.9%). Most states don’t let you slice the numbers this way but it makes since that the total death rate would go down as more treatment options became available. This doesn’t sound like the dramatic reduction in severe outcomes once someone comes down with a breakthrough case like fauci was talking about.

Another example? How about Oregon. Per their report from September 16th (with data through September 11th)


That means that 4.7% of their breakthrough cases resulted in hospitalization and 0.9% resulted in death. This compares to their TOTAL cases since the pandemic began of 5.4% hospitalization rate and 1.1% that resulted in death (again including the start of the pandemic which had higher death rates due to less treatment options).


You may have looked at the age range of the breakthrough cases and said..oh but most of the breakthrough deaths are older! Majority of ALL deaths are older! In fact, 94% of all deaths since the start of the pandemic have been 50+ and 77% have been 65+.



So we have looked at 3 states data (those that supposedly track this data properly) and have found that breakthrough cases that result in hospitalization was 4% in Virginia, 4.7% in Oregon and 9% in Washington State….compared to 4.3%, 5.4% and 5.6% for all cases since the start of the pandemic. And Breakthroughs that result in death was 1% in Virginia, 0.9% in Oregon and 0.9% in Washington compared to 1.5%, 1.1% and 1.1%.

I don’t know about you but I think I know why they don’t give us actual numbers on the outcomes of breakthrough cases when they give this talking point. The reality is if you get a breakthrough case, your outcome is likely to be quite similar to that of a unvaccinated person. The reason that breakthrough deaths and hospitalizations are less overall is simply because the vaccines still have some efficiancy in reducing your odds of getting it in the first place…..Nowhere NEAR the efficacy that was originally advertised as new varients emerge, and effectiveness quickly falls over time (most studies show under 50% after 6 months) but some efficacy nonetheless, but that is the reason for reduced severe cases….NOT that breakthroughs are dramatically less severe once you get it.




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