Tracking post-vaccination infections
Islam News – It has been five months since the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in the U.S., and so far the data on vaccinations suggests that they are highly effective. Breakthrough infections, which happen after a person is fully vaccinated, are few and far between.
By the end of April, when some 101 million Americans had been vaccinated, the C.D.C. had received 10,262 reports of breakthrough infections. A study found that of those cases, about 995 people were hospitalized and 160 had died, although not always because of Covid-19. The median age of those who died was 82.
Going forward, however, the federal government will have a lot less data to work with.
Our colleague Roni Caryn Rabin, who covers health for The Times, reports that this month the C.D.C. stopped investigating breakthrough infections except for the most severe cases.
The move has been controversial. Some scientists support the decision, saying that the government should focus on cases that cause deaths and tax hospitals. They argue that there’s only a marginal value to tracking mild breakthrough cases because they can’t overwhelm hospitals, and they are unlikely to result in transmission of the coronavirus (although the scientific evidence for that is not conclusive). When asked to explain the change, the C.D.C. said that the number of breakthrough cases was small and that no significant demographic trends among them had been identified.
Critics argue that the agency is missing an opportunity to learn about the real-world effectiveness of the different vaccines. They also say that the government is missing the chance to gather information that may help identify trends in the pandemic’s trajectory, like how long vaccine protection lasts, or how different vaccines stack up against the variants.
The move will make it difficult to fully understand mild Covid cases that lead to long-term health problems. Some mild breakthrough infections have left patients with lingering fatigue, headaches or brain fog.
We’ve learned time and again during this pandemic that collecting more data is always preferable to collecting less.
“The virus is constantly changing, and we need to stay three steps ahead of it,” said Michael Kinch, an immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “What if a variant arises that is less responsive or, Lord forbid, unresponsive to the vaccines?” he said. “The way you stop it is good old-fashioned epidemiology, which the C.D.C. has historically done very well. But if you don’t see it coming, you can’t stop it.”
Source: The New Yourk Times