Why Do Even Vaccinated People Get ‘Breakthrough’ Infections?


In any case, the immune defenses prepared by vaccines must recognize the virus soon after infection and destroy it before significant damage can occur.

“This is what explains why people get infected and why people don’t get seriously ill,” said immunologist Michel C. Nussenzweig of Rockefeller University in New York. “It’s almost inevitable unless you’re going to give people boosters very often.”

There is limited evidence beyond anecdotal reports to indicate whether breakthrough infections with the delta variant are more common or more likely to spread to other people. The CDC has recorded about 5,500 hospitalizations and deaths in vaccinated people, but not chasing milder breakthrough infections.

Additional data is emerging from the Covid-19 Sports and Society Working Group, a coalition of professional sports leagues working closely with CDC Sports teams in the group, according to the group. Robby Sikka, a doctor working with the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA.

Breakthrough infections in leagues appear to be more common in the Delta variant than Alpha, the variant first identified in the UK, he said. Predictably, vaccines significantly reduced the severity and duration of the disease, and players returned less than two weeks after being infected, compared to about three weeks ago in the pandemic.

However, Dr. Sikka said that when they are sick, players carry very high amounts of the virus for seven to 10 days, compared to two or three days for those infected with Alpha. Infected players need to be quarantined, so the project has not been able to track whether they are spreading the virus to others – but they probably will, he added.

“I think it will spread from vaccinated individuals if they are unintentionally reintroduced into the community,” he added. “They don’t even know they have Covid because they think they have a vaccine.”


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