Skip to main content

Breakthrough Events May 23, Part 1

By May 25, 2022Commentary

I mentioned in an earlier post that DOH changed how it reports breakthroughs.  They appropriately are now giving us information on boosters, but they also changed aspects of the data presentation with the clear goal of hiding recent vaccine effectiveness.  Dave Dixon had to do a lot of work to be able to create some charts that look like what we have been showing you.  Because of data change issues, there is no longer a table based on week of report, but the more important table by date of event is still there.  That table, however, lags by a few weeks, since it takes time for people to be “fully vaxed”.  Nothwithstanding DOH attempts at obfuscation, pretty obvious what is happening.  Effectiveness against infection for boosters and vax is going to zero.  Effectiveness against hosp and  death is there, but diminishing.

Here is the big picture:  In the most recent week by date of event, 75% of cases, 67% of hospitalizations and 100% of deaths were people who had at least two doses of vax.  You tell me how effective that makes the vax at this point.  The performance of boosters, as Dave notes below, is simply abysmal in recent weeks.  We should be thinking about whether the extra shots are actually hindering our immune systems.

Dave’s notes:

  1. On Monday, 5/23/2022, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) made some fairly significant changes to their vaccine breakthrough reporting, available here: The biggest change was the addition of booster information to the breakthrough data. They now report cases, hospital admissions, and deaths for those vaccinated but not boosted, and for those who have received at least one booster shot. Also new is the data for the 5-11 age group. Finally, the underlying data files were comprehensively changed, for the positive with the addition of the vaccinated populations, and by providing actual breakthrough cases, admissions, and deaths each week in addition to the rates per 100k. While we believe the changes were mainly driven by MDH’s desire to present booster shots in a positive light, the published underlying data is an improvement on what was available before.
  2. We last published data tables and charts for the overall age group on 5/18/2022 here: The old Fig. 1, the summary of weekly reported breakthrough events, has been deleted, since the breakthrough events are now split between the boosted and unboosted. We have replicated Fig. 2, now displaying the events per week in the new 3 categories of data, as our new Fig. 1. Our new Fig. 2, 3, and 4 are similar to the old Fig. 3, 4, and 5, displaying breakthrough events each week. We now display the proportions of events separately as Fig. 4, 5, and 6, rather than all together on one chart as we did until last week in the old Fig. 6.
  3. Fig. 1: This table displays the total cases, hospital admissions, and deaths that occurred each week among the unvaccinated, vaccinated but not boosted, and vaccinated and boosted populations, with the latest week of 5/01/2022, three additional weeks compared to last week’s publication. This data is obtained from the data files vbtadulycirates.xlsx and vbtpedocirates.xlsx, available in the notes under the graphics on the MDH Vaccinate Breakthrough Weekly Update web page
  4. Fig. 2: This chart simply plots the cases among the unvaccinated, vaccinated but not boosted, and vaccinated and boosted populations each week, as found in Fig. 1. This chart, along with  Fig. 3 and 4, are for all ages 5 and above, while the old versions of these charts were for all ages 12 and above. For this reason the absolute magnitude of the cases are not directly comparable to the old versions. We can see that the Omicron wave in the winter of 2021/2022 that cases among the boosted were a significant proportion of cases each week. More recently, cases among the boosted are greater than in the other 2 groups, however, bear in mind that the boosted population is also growing each week. More on this point below.
  5. Fig. 3: This chart displays the hospital admissions among the unvaccinated, vaccinated but not boosted, and vaccinated and boosted populations each week from the data in Fig. 1. Similar to cases, hospital admissions among the boosted are greater in the most recent weeks than in the other groups.
  6. Fig. 4: This chart displays the deaths among the unvaccinated, vaccinated but not boosted, and vaccinated and boosted deaths each week from the data in Fig. 1. Deaths remain at very low levels for the week of 5/01/2022, but it is somewhat surprising that deaths among the boosted are that much greater than the other groups.
  7. Fig. 5: This chart is a little confusing perhaps, but displays the proportion of the 5 and over population who are vaccinated but not boosted (solid orange), vaccinated and boosted (solid green), and the proportion of cases among these 2 groups each week (dashed lines of same color). Not shown in the interest of clarity are the proportions for the unvaccinated, who make up the remainder of the proportion to 100% for both vaccinations and cases. The way to interpret this chart is to compare the proportion of breakthroughs to the proportion of vaccinations. Whenever the dashed breakthrough proportion line is below the solid vaccination line of the same color, then that category is underrepresented in the population, and vaccination might be said to be beneficial (ignoring for now other confounding factors). For the week of 5/1/2022, for example, slightly over 40% of the population was vaccinated and boosted (solid green line) while this group accounted for nearly 50% of the cases (dashed green line). We would interpret this to show that being boosted did not reduce an individuals chances of testing positive for Covid for that week. On the other hand, on the left side of the chart showing older data, the dashed case proportions are significantly below the solid vaccination proportion lines, showing that vaccination and boosting did significantly reduce the chances of testing positive. Not shown, of course, are the unvaccinated, which is where the extra positive cases ended up.
  8. Fig. 6: Similar to the case proportion chart in Fig. 5, this chart shows the proportion of hospital admissions among the vaccinated but not boosted (dashed orange line) and vaccinated and boosted (dashed green line) compared to the proportions of the population who are vaccinated (solid lines). We can see that since roughly 3/20/2022 being boosted has had little effect on the odds of an individual being hospitalized, since the proportion of admissions (dashed green line) is roughly similar to the proportion boosted (solid green line). Being vaccinated but not boosted has been negligibly helpful since roughly 1/23/2022, comparing the dashed to solid orange lines.
  9. Fig. 7: Finally this chart displays the proportion of weekly deaths and proportion of vaccination for the vaccinated but not boosted, and vaccinated and boosted. As with cases and hospital admissions, whenever the dashed line is higher than the corresponding solid line then that category is over-represented. We can see, for example, that the proportion of deaths among the vaccinated and boosted peaked at roughly 85% on 3/27/2022, while the boosted made up only 40% of the population. It is likely that data reporting inconsistencies accounts for some of the choppiness of the data, as well as the fact that there are relatively few Covid deaths each week, so a few deaths can swing the proportions to extremes more easily.
  10. MDH defines the fully vaccinated (what we have termed vaccinated but not boosted) as those who have not received a booster after completing their primary vaccination series, and had been vaccinated at least 14 days prior to testing positive.
  11. MDH defines the boosted as those who have received any additional vaccination shots after completing their primary vaccination series, and also received the booster at least 14 days prior to testing positive. In addition, booster doses were only counted after 8/13/2021, the date the CDC first began recommending booster shots.

Leave a comment