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Why Vaccination Does Not Eliminate COVID Infections

04/22/21—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about 133.3 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with an average of 3.02 million doses administered per day. Some people have been surprised to find that post-vaccination, it is still possible to contract COVID-19, in cases referred to as ‘breakthrough infections’. The CDC estimates that around 5,800 fully vaccinated individuals have tested positive afterward. Three hundred and ninety-six of these cases required hospitalization, with 74 of them ending in death. The CDC’S data shows that 65% of these cases were in asymptomatic females. All of the cases presented in a range of ages, with 40% being individuals aged 60 or more.

There are multiple factors involved in explaining why these post-vaccination COVID cases occur. The more transmissible variant B.1.351 from South Africa appears to be infiltrating the Pfizer vaccine’s defenses, according to a small, real-world data study out of Israel. This study suggests the South African variant is causing more reinfections than the British variant and the original COVID-19 strain. Another factor is variable immune response amongst individuals with compromised immune systems, in addition to those who are advanced in age. For these people, even with a vaccination, it may not be possible to build up enough antibodies to prevent all instances of infection. For those with expected immune response, a breakthrough infection can occur when attending super-spreader events and encountering a high viral load in the process.

Some positive cases post-vaccine are expected, with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine rating at 95% effective in clinical trials, Moderna following at 94%, ad Johnson & Johnson at 66%. As more people are vaccinated, more reports of breakthroughs are expected. “You will always see some breakthrough infections no matter the efficacy of your vaccine,” Dr. Anthony Fauci commented on the matter. David Hirschwerk, a physician in infectious diseases for Northwell Health System, adds, “This is really what we see each season with the influenza vaccine.”

The CDC continues to recommend precautions to mitigate spread. Fully vaccinated people should practice distancing, masking, avoid crowded, poorly ventilated areas, and get vaccinated when eligible. Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean at Emory University School of Medicine, says that as transmission is reduced, less breakthrough cases can occur. “There is currently a lot of transmission in many parts of the country. Vaccines will help decrease that,” del Rio said. “Get vaccinated as soon as you can and help control this pandemic.”

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At slightly larger than a U.S. quarter, the AlertTrace Mini is a device worn by your workforce and will securely capture data when in range of another AlertTrace wearable. If an employee tests positive for a communicable infection, you will be able to quickly identify an employee’s historical anonymized contacts in the Admin Dashboard to safeguard your workforce.

Contact us today to learn more about how AlertTrace can help your organization maintain operations now, prepare for any other instances of infectious disease, and even provide additional safety and operations analytics features for your team in the future.