Health experts have been warning that no vaccine can fully protect from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They have said that so-called breakthrough incidents of coronavirus among fully vaccinated people are rare and highly unlikely to cause severe or fatal COVID19 disease. Federal health officials have said that people who have been vaccinated with full two doses of COVID19 vaccine can remove their face masks and they do not need to follow social distancing as they are fully protected from the virus. They have said that people who are fully immunized with two doses of the vaccine do not need to undergo any testing or stay in isolation after exposure to the virus until they start showing up symptoms of the disease. Now, the officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that they will not be investigating those so-called breakthrough cases of COVID19 among fully vaccinated people until they are severely ill, hospitalized, or lose their lives.
Until earlier this year, the CDC has been tracking all cases. Nearly 101 million people in the US have been fully vaccinated by the end of April, when, the federal agency has reported around 10262 breakthrough cases of coronavirus from 46 states and other areas. The CDC has said that this figure is most likely a significant undercount. As per the report, health experts have been able to do genomic sequencing on only 5 percent of reported breakthrough cases. They have said that more than half of these cases have been linked to variants of concern (VOCs) such as the B.1.1.7 and the B.1.351. The new study has shown that around 995 people out of 10262 breakthrough cases have been severely ill and have been admitted to the hospital. Nearly 161 of them have lost their lives, though the death has not been due to COVID19 always. The average age of people who have lost their lives has been 82. The officials from the agency have said that the COVID19 shots appear to be highly efficient, which is the reason the agency has decided to examine only more severe breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people.
However, the agency will continue to collect voluntary data of breakthrough cases from different states and local health departments. The officials have said that the CDC will continue studies on vaccine efficiency that will include data on breakthrough cases as well. However, the data of cases in vaccinated people will be from limited populations like health care workers, essential workers, elderly people, and long-term facility residents. Although this decision of the agency has been controversial, some experts have welcomed the move. They have said that the agency should focus on cases that are severe and can exhaust the health care system and hospitals. Some critics have said that by this decision, the CDC will not be missing out on chances to learn more about the real-world efficiency of different vaccines. They have said that knowing more about the effectiveness of the vaccines will help experts identify trends in the course of the pandemic, such as how long the protection provided by the vaccine will last and how effective vaccines are against variants of concern.
Critics have said that examining each breakthrough case will help experts find patients such as older people who are at a higher risk of breakthrough infection. An epidemiologist from the University of Washington, Ali Mokdad has said that it is a blind decision taken by the agency. He has served many years at the CDC as a senior scientist. The CDC has quietly taken the decision and announced it on its website. In the new guideline, the agency has said that it will maximize the quality of the data taken from the cases of highest clinical importance. The officials from the CDC have said that no vaccine provides full protection but the number of COVID cases in fully vaccinated people has been small and no major demographic trends have been found yet. The decision means that the agency will look into the death of a fully vaccinated person but will not investigate other mild infections among other fully vaccinated people that do not need hospitalization. Some experts have said that it is unclear whether the agency will look into the outbreak where eight fully vaccinated people from the Yankees organization have been infected with the virus. Most of these people have not shown any symptoms of COVID19.
Speaking on the new policy of the agency, Dr. Kathryn Edwards has said that it is time to prioritize the research and to look into the cases that are linked to severe COVID19 disease. Dr. Kathryn Edwards is a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She has been studying vaccine effectiveness and safety. She has said that some private health care systems as well are studying the cases of vaccine failure in their employees that might yield helpful data. Such studies might not reflect major demographic trends. An expert, Dr. Ameesh A Adalja from John Hopkins Center for Health Security has said that such rare cases cannot change the trajectory of the pandemic. He has said that cases that do not need hospitalization have marginal value in tracking.