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What is the likelihood of breakthrough COVID infections after people are fully vaccinated?

This article was published on
July 28, 2021

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SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use these responses in news stories, with attribution to the expert.

SciLine reaches out to our network of scientific experts and poses commonly asked questions about newsworthy topics. Reporters can use these responses in news stories, with attribution to the expert.

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What our experts say

Context and background

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Media briefing

Media Release

Expert Comments: 

Deborah Fuller, PhD

All vaccines are designed to protect from symptoms of disease, not necessarily against infection. That means breakthrough infections can happen and are expected. With the emergence of the more transmissible Delta variant, we will likely see an increase in breakthrough infections where vaccinated people test positive for COVID-19 but feel just fine.

Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH

The likelihood of a severe breakthrough infection as tracked by the CDC after vaccination remains rare. Among 161 million Americans vaccinated, 4072 hospitalizations occurred due to COVID after vaccination (0.0025%) and 849 deaths occurred due to COVID after vaccination (0.0005%.)

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