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Vaccinated people get sick with COVID-19 more often: scientists still do not know the reasons

While it is clear that vaccinations continue to provide powerful protection against COVID-19, there is growing concern that vaccinated people may be more vulnerable to serious illness than previously thought. The edition told in more detail Bloomberg.

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There is a paucity of scientific research with concrete answers, and politicians and corporate leaders have to formulate plans based on scattered information. While some renew the mandate to use masks or postpone opening offices, others cite a lack of clarity to justify adhering to this course. All of this may seem like a mess.

“We have to be humble about what we know and what we don’t know,” said Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and head of the nonprofit Resolve to Save Lives.

In the absence of clear public health messages, vaccinated people do not understand how to protect themselves. How vulnerable they are is a key variable not only for public health officials trying to figure out, for example, when revaccinations might be needed, but also for deciding whether to postpone re-discovery amid a new wave of the virus. On a smaller scale, the obscurity has left music lovers unsure of whether to attend concerts and has sparked new criticism from parents pondering what the school will look like this year.

Instead of replies, many case studies have emerged that give a slightly different picture of breakthrough infections. The data from surveys for the presence of the delta variant and the number of vaccinated people conducted at different times are very different, which makes it difficult to compare the results and find out patterns. It's hard to say which data might end up carrying more weight.

On the subject: How long does immunity last after vaccination against COVID-19: data on different drugs

“It’s clear that we have more data now than we did in the beginning,” said Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco. - We all know someone who had it. But we do not have accurate clinical data. "

One of the most famous outbreaks among vaccinated people occurred in the small coastal town of Provincetown, Massachusetts, when thousands of vaccinated and unvaccinated people gathered on dance floors and house parties on the 469th of July weekend to celebrate US Independence Day. About three quarters of the XNUMX infections were among vaccinated people.

The authors of the CDC case study said this could mean they can transmit COVID-19 in the same way as the unvaccinated. However, they warned that as more people receive the vaccine, it is natural that they will also be responsible for a larger proportion of COVID-19 infections, and this study alone was not enough to draw any conclusions. The incident prompted the CDC to revoke a recommendation it issued just a few weeks earlier and urge vaccinated people to wear masks again.

However, Gandhi said the specific details of this cluster of cases could make this outbreak particularly serious.

“The incidence of mild flare-ups in this situation was higher due to the high amount of indoor activity and the mixing of people with different vaccination status,” she said.

Meanwhile, a much larger CDC study of infections in New York State recently published, found that breakthrough infections have risen steadily since May, accounting for nearly 4% of cases by mid-July. The researchers warned that factors such as easing public health restrictions and the spread of the highly contagious delta variant could influence the results.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

Another CDC case study from Colorado found that breakthrough infection rates in one county, Mesa, were significantly higher than the rest of the state, at 7% versus about 5% in the state. The report suggested that this may be due to the wider prevalence of the delta variant here, but it also noted the age of the patients in Meza and the lower vaccination rate may have played a role.

Research outside Israel seems to support the idea that protection against serious illness wanes in the months following vaccinations, and more recently that breakthrough cases could eventually lead to an increase in hospital admissions. The information is preliminary and serious breakouts are still rare, but it confirms the fact that some people will need revaccinations in the coming months.

Case studies and data from some US states have similarly shown an increase in breakouts over time. But as the delta variant is also growing, it is difficult to say whether the weakened immunity to any type of coronavirus infection is to blame, or whether vaccination is particularly ineffective against the delta variant. Of course, it can be both. Behavioral change among vaccinated people can also be a factor as they return to community gatherings, travel and dine in indoor restaurants.

All this suggests that some facts are well established at the moment. Vaccinated people infected with this virus are much less likely to be hospitalized, much less likely to be intubated, and much less likely to die from the disease. There is no doubt that vaccines provide significant protection. But a significant portion of the country's population - nearly 30% of the US adult population - has not been vaccinated, and this, along with the contagious variant of Delta, has pushed the country into a new wave of outbreaks.

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“The big picture is that vaccines are working, and the reason for the surge in the US is that we have too few vaccinated people,” Frieden said.

To a certain extent, cases of breakthrough of any virus are expected. In clinical trials, no COVID-19 vaccine has been 100% effective - even the best vaccines have never been effective. The more the virus circulates, the higher the risk of developing infectious diseases. It is also common for some aspects of viral immunity to naturally weaken over time.

So far, there are simply more questions than answers. Are breakthrough infections due to the delta variant, weakening of the immune system, or a return to normal life? Are vaccinated people more vulnerable to serious illness than previously thought? How common are breakthrough infections? One can only guess.

“We have to make public health decisions based on imperfect data,” Frieden said.

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