If You're Vaccinated, This Is How Likely You Are to Get COVID, New Data Shows
Researchers can now better pinpoint your odds of a breakthrough infection.
By now, you've probably heard of someone who has gotten COVID despite being fully vaccinated. From the beginning, experts warned that breakthrough infections were to be expected. Nevertheless, it may feel like they're happening more often than you had hoped. As the more transmissible Delta variant began circulating, breakthrough cases have indeed become more likely, but experts are now reassuring vaccinated people that these cases are still not that common. Now, The New York Times has used data from multiple sources to estimate the actual chances of a vaccinated person getting COVID in the U.S.
According to The New York Times, the chances of the average vaccinated person in the U.S. contracting COVID is about 1 in 5,000 per day. They note that this number is even lower for those who take precautions or live in a community with a high vaccination rate. The newspaper found that in places with fewer COVID cases, such as the Northeast, the chances are probably more like 1 in 10,000.
This estimate is based on data on COVID cases reported by vaccination status in Utah, Virginia, and King County in Washington state, which includes Seattle. The data from all three locations were consistent with the belief that, on average, 1 in 5,000 vaccinated people in the U.S. test positive for COVID every day.
Although the Delta variant has made it easier for vaccinated people to get the virus, the vaccine is still highly effective, especially in areas with high vaccination rates. According to The New York Times, the infection numbers in the least vaccinated states, such as South Carolina and Georgia, are about four times as high as in the most vaccinated states, like New York, Massachusetts, and California.
In reporting this data, the NYT set out to remind vaccinated people in the U.S. that they're largely protected after recent research made many of these individuals worry. An Aug. 6 release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that vaccinated people with the Delta variant had roughly the same viral load in their noses and throats as those who were unvaccinated. This discovery concerned people since it seemed to suggest that even after vaccination, people were seriously vulnerable to both getting and transmitting the virus. However, data shows that breakthrough infections are still far less common than COVID cases in unvaccinated people.
A Sept. 1 study out of the U.K. published by The Lancet found that vaccines provided a handful of benefits, even when vaccinated people did get the virus. The study concluded that vaccinated people with COVID were less likely to be sick for more than 28 days, go to the hospital, or have more than five symptoms during the first week of illness. Vaccinated people were also more likely to be fully asymptomatic than unvaccinated people.
An Aug. 24 CDC study out of Los Angeles found that an unvaccinated person is 29 times more likely than a vaccinated person to end up hospitalized from COVID. The research showed that the rate of infection in unvaccinated people was five times higher than in vaccinated people. At the end of the study, the incidence of COVID in unvaccinated people was 315.1 per 100,000 people over seven days. Meanwhile, the incidence of infection in vaccinated people was 63.8 per 100,000 people over seven days.
Experts continue to reassure vaccinated people that they have ample protection. "There's been a lot of miscommunication about what the risks really are to vaccinated people, and how vaccinated people should be thinking about their lives," Ashish Jha, MD, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told The New York Times. "There are people who think we are back to square one, but we are in a much, much better place."