Breakthrough Covid Cases: Rare and Often Mild, But Not Always


For Moira Smith and her mother, July promised a glimmer of normalcy after months of isolation. The two flew from Alaska to Houston and celebrated their cousin’s granddaughter’s first birthday by visiting family. Miss Smith’s mother received a patterned pink jumpsuit as a gift, and they all took pictures of the baby’s face smeared with chocolate.

Ms. Smith, 46, knew her cousin’s family had not been vaccinated, but she tried not to dwell on it. He and his mother had Pfizer injections done months ago. One evening in the hotel room, Ms. Smith’s mother made an impromptu comment to her relatives: “You can take off your masks, but you have to promise to get the vaccine,” she scolded them.

The next morning, Ms. Smith and her mother were on their way home during a layover at Seattle airport, and the phone call came in: Their relative’s baby had a fever and tested positive for Covid-19.

Two days later, Ms. Smith woke up with body aches and sore throat, feeling like she had been “hit by a Mack truck” and tested positive for coronavirus. The following week, her 76-year-old mother, who has lung cancer, sent her a thermometer emoji indicating that she had a fever and was later injured in the emergency room with Covid.

Ms Smith and her mother are part of a wave of Americans contracting Covid despite being fully vaccinated, known as breakthrough infections.

Public health experts continue to believe that breakthrough infections are relatively rare and rarely cause serious illness or hospitalizations. Vaccines available in the United States offer strong protection from serious Covid disease, hospitalization and death. Soon analysis State-reported data from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than nine out of 10 cases of Covid-19 that resulted in hospitalization and death occurred among people who were not fully vaccinated.

Professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt, Dr. “We always predicted that there would be some breakthrough infections, because vaccines were 95 percent effective at best,” said William Schaffner. “Vaccines are designed to prevent serious diseases, and they’re extraordinarily successful at that.”

But as the more contagious Delta variant becomes predominant in the United States, an increasing number of breakthrough cases, though most mild, are being reported.

Dr. “The delta is much more contagious, so because it’s spreading among the unvaccinated, it’s spreading to the vaccinated population,” Schaffner said. “The unvaccinated are a huge transmission route. The vaccinated are in a small alley.”

Wearing a mask has become very important, as the virus is much more common in the nose and upper respiratory tract of people infected with the delta variant. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance on masking, recommending that people vaccinated in hotspots continue to wear masks in public indoors, millions of fully vaccinated Americans apparently struggled to adjust their expectations for the fall months. It offers a festive atmosphere. And a small subset of Americans have already seen their routines upended by breakthrough infections.

Spurred by concerns about breakthrough infections, federal health officials recently recommended A.Americans who receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccines receive a third dose in the coming months. This week Johnson & Johnson reported a booster shot of the vaccine raised antibody levels against coronavirus.

For some, the breakthrough infections felt like mild allergies that came with symptoms like coughing, sniffling and itchy throat. Others had more severe cases where they were bedridden with body aches, fever, and chills. And yet others had some of the revealing signs of Covid, such as loss of taste and smell, a “Covid rash” and brain fog.

“We used to call it floating head syndrome,” said Molly O’Brien-Foelsch, 47, a marketing executive in Pennsylvania who tested positive for Covid after a trip to the British Virgin Islands with her husband last month. “I felt like I had a huge marshmallow on my head.”

Scientists believe that breakthrough infections rarely lead to serious illness, but there have been cases of prolonged hospitalizations. Elaina Cary-Fehr’s father, Isaac, a 64-year-old Uber driver in Austin, was transferred to a long-term care facility in June after being hospitalized with Covid pneumonia and later receiving a tracheotomy tube. He was released from the facility this week.

“I believe in the vaccine, I kept hoping it would work, and it did,” said Ms. Cary-Fehr. “But I hate when this happens to my family.”

32-year-old Dr. Rebecca Hughes works as an emergency medicine resident in Boston, so she had spent the past year with a simmering sense of anxiety about exposure to Covid. He still remembers the fear he felt when he first treated a coding Covid patient, and wonders for hours if his mask fell off, putting him at risk. But he was kept safe by his protective gear all year round.

Then, last month, his family went on a vacation to visit his grandparents in Utah. It was a trip they had hoped to do last February but postponed as Covid case rates increased. Four days after their landing, Dr. Hughes felt his throat itch. He was sure it was an allergy, but he did a Covid test just in case; returned positive. Shortly after, her 9-week-old newborn started sneezing, and Dr. He also tested positive, along with Hughes’ three other children aged 8, 6, and 3.

Dr. “It felt ironic that I’ve been dealing with Covid-positive patients every shift for so long since the pandemic started,” Hughes said. “My 8-year-old son knows I’ve seen people die because of it. He looked at me and said, ‘Am I going to be okay?’ said.

Dr. While it is difficult to trace some breakthrough infections, such as Hughes, to a definitive exposure, other Americans have found that their vacation plans intersect with well-known outbreaks.

Jimmy Yoder, 25, had no qualms as he packed his bags for a weekend in Provincetown in July with his boyfriend, who had both been vaccinated. And since it was a blur of clubs and dances by day and by night, the Monday morning fatigue that greeted him in Brooklyn thought it was just a bad hangover.

“I was a little depressed, but I tied it to a weekend party,” said Mr. Yoder. “In the back of my mind, I was saying, ‘There is no way I can catch Covid, I have immunity’. ”

By Wednesday morning, Mr. Yoder was no longer feeling so safe. “I felt like I had a really bad flu,” she said, with a high fever and stuffy sinuses. She and her boyfriend tested positive that day. Mr. Yoder slept for the next 18 hours, and when he and his boyfriend started to feel better, they ordered a celebratory pizza. It was then that they realized they had lost both their sense of taste and smell.

Mr. Yoder was relieved to learn that of all the people he had exposed—the friends who drove him home from Provincetown, an office full of colleagues—only one had tested positive. “Obviously it shows that vaccines are still working hard,” he added.

As many Americans embark on familiar exercises such as questioning and canceling plans, scientists stress the continued importance of wearing masks to reduce transmission and infection.

Professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell. “Once you get infected and breathe the virus, it gets trapped by your mask,” said John Moore. “These viruses don’t have a pair of scissors that can cut masks.”


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *