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Does one COVID-19 vaccine offer the most protection against breakthrough infections? Experts say no

“To have these small breakthrough cases is in no way suggesting that the vaccine doesn’t work.”
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:54 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A local infectious disease expert said it’s too soon to tell if one COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective at preventing breakthrough infections.

Sanford experts say 7 out of their 32 patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are breakthrough infections, when someone who is fully vaccinated tests positive for the virus.

“As of today that data is not available as to which vaccine has x number of breakthroughs relative to the other.” said Essentia infectious disease expert Dr. Bertha Ayi.

She said although the answer to which vaccine is most effective against breakthrough infections is not yet available, the CDC is collecting data. The CDC website states out of more than 176 million fully vaccinated people in the United States,11,440 were hospitalized for COVID-19, and 70% of them were over the age of 65.

“In essence this is a really miniscule number,” said Dr. Ayi, “To have these small breakthrough cases is in no way suggesting that the vaccine doesn’t work.”

Dr. Ayi pointed to other vaccines and their efficacy rates, like the measles which is 97% effective, polio which is 70-80% effective, and the flu shot which is 40-60% effective. She said with the COVID-19 vaccine’s efficacy rate against severe illness ranging from 80-90%, they’re effective at preventing hospitalization, and death from the virus. Sanford’s Dr. Avish Nagpal agreed.

“None of the vaccinations are 100% effective but they are effective enough to keep you out of the hospital and away from the ventilators.” said Dr. Nagpal.

While fully vaccinated people who test positive for covid-19 tend to have mild to moderate symptoms, transmission of the virus can still occur. Dr. Ayi said she believes the way out of the pandemic is through herd immunity, where 80% of the community is vaccinated against the virus. She said since breakthrough infections can happen, both unvaccinated and vaccinated people should wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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