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Mid-South reports COVID-19 breakthrough cases

Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 7:23 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - They’re called breakthrough cases, or COVID-19 cases in fully vaccinated people. Hundreds are being reported in different states including just over 100 in Washington and more than 200 in Michigan. The Mid-South is starting its data collecting on these cases.

Just days ago, the Centers for Disease Control said it is looking at how many breakthrough cases there are of COVID-19. Both Arkansas and Tennessee have not released those numbers, but doctors in the Shelby County area say they have seen at least 21 breakthrough cases.

In Mississippi, there have been several dozen and one death.

“We knew we would see some because [the vaccine is] not 100% effective in preventing any illness but it’s fortunately been an uncommon thing,” said Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

In Mississippi, nearly 650,000 people are fully vaccinated. State health officials have recorded 78 breakthrough cases, one resulted in death.

“We’re still looking at the breakdown in that data of who are we seeing this in most,” said Mississippi Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said many of the breakthrough cases are seen in older people with underlying health conditions.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial said he has seen some breakthrough cases in the Memphis area, but very few were sick enough to have to be in the hospital.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Health said the state has seen some and added:

“The CDC is studying reports of COVID-19 illness among people who are fully vaccinated to better understand why these cases occurred and how common they are.”

“It’s still by any measure a widely effective vaccine, but wildly effective vaccines do have breakthroughs,” said Threlkeld.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are more than 90% protective against the virus and nearly 100% against serious illness. Johnson & Johnson, which is currently paused, is 85% effective against serious illness.

Threlkeld said one of the reported breakthrough cases was in an 80-year-old, but that person’s symptoms were mild- a headache and some coughing. That patient was never admitted to the hospital. Without the vaccine, Threlkeld said, that is a patient who may have been at a high risk of serious illness and death.

“Essentially none of those people are dying,” said Threlkeld.

He said there’s work to do to see if there is a certain demographic more likely to become a breakthrough case or if variants are causing them. That is some of the data the CDC will examine.

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