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Breakthrough Infections

By July 24, 2021Commentary

Breakthrough infections is a bad term for those infections in the vaxxed population.  It implies that the virus broke through some impenetrable shield, which isn’t how adaptive immunity works.  As of July 13, according to a Jeremy Olson story in the Strib, we had 3354 breakthrough cases, 371 hospitalizations and 52 deaths in Minnesota.  According to my iPhone, that is an 11% hospitalization rate and a 1.55% death rate.  Sounds pretty bad.  Now let’s go look at the general population data for the same time period.  We take the total for that date from the Minnesota tables, subtract these breakthrough data and calculate the same rates.  (Far enough back that most data lags should be accounted for, but you never know when Minnesota is going to drop data from months ago.)  Now we get 607595 cases (including antigen tested ones), 32936 hospitalizations and 7644 deaths, or 604241 after taking out breakout cases, 32565 hosps, and 7592 deaths.  Rates are 5.4% for hospitalizations and 1.25% for deaths.  Looks bad for vaccines stopping serious illness.

What are we missing?  It should be obvious, we don’t know the age structure of the sub-group.  If we did it would almost certainly show us that among the breakthrough cases, almost all are occurring in the elderly and if we did the appropriate adjustment, the rates would look similar to the general rates.  But of course, our beloved friends at the Minnesota DOH, in their infinite unwisdom, have chosen not to do that and instead allow rampant misperceptions about what is happening among the vaxxed population.

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Turd Ferguson says:

    For as big a media push as we’re getting re: vaccinations you’d think states would be as transparent as possible with these infections in the interest of continuing to show the efficacy. The fact that they are not is curious. It’s almost like they are as good at message management as the governme…oh wait.

  • The Dark Lord says:

    “if we did the appropriate adjustment, the rates would look similar to the general rates” which also means the vacccine isn’t doing its job …

  • Kevin Roche says:

    I made my point inartfully, the rate of cases among the vaxed is way down, so even if the rate of hosps. and deaths were the same the absolute numbers would be way down. At the same time we had around 3000 cases in the fully vaxed, which is over half of Minnesota’s population, we had well over 100,000 in the unvaxxed group, which is about the same size. For the cases that do occur, if we saw the actual data they will be disproportionately in the frail elderly. The research shows that even in this group outcomes like hosp and death rates are lower, but I don’t have the Minnesota data to show that yet and who knows if the state will give it to us. But total numbers of cases are clearly much lower. I will have more in a followup post this morning.

  • Mike M. says:

    “At the same time we had around 3000 cases in the fully vaxed, which is over half of Minnesota’s population, we had well over 100,000 in the unvaxxed group, which is about the same size.”

    I don’t think that is quite fair. What is the time period? Mid-March to mid-June? If so, half the cases were in the first month and most of the rest in the second month. But how many were fully vaccinated back in March? 10%? Maybe 1/3 by mid-May? I don’t have the numbers, so I am estimated from U.S. numbers. So the effectiveness would seem to be much less than the 97% you imply. Although still probably 80-90%.

  • Kevin Roche says:

    technically you are correct in that making a comparison when people are rapidly shifting from one group to another (unvaxed to vaxed) is complex for any given day or week, but the cumulative numbers are going to reflect the reality at that cumulative point in time, how many cases were there among people fully vaxed compared to those who weren’t vaxed. We know the vaxed cases, so the unvaxed is obviously just the total minus vaxed. And those cumulative numbers are pretty clear. Cohort analyses which follow vaxed and unvaxed groups over a set period of time find the same thing. All those cases since we started vaxing in the unvaxed are a lot more per capita that in the vaxed group, a whole lot more.

  • Dan says:

    I don’t understand what use it is to compare vaxed to unvaxed cases? We all know cases are meaningless without knowing at least the PCR cycle # right? And even then I don’t understand why there’s not some sort of 1-10 scale of sickness. My main point is I think it’s obvious unvaxed are getting tested way more the vaxed because they are forced.

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