When Christie Griffith started feeling unwell a few weeks ago, she thought it was not a coronavirus. As a nurse at Sandy Alta View Hospital, she was vaccinated in January.
But later, her husband received only the first shot and felt unwell. He found that he could not smell a bit of chewing gum. She can’t smell it either.
Sure enough, she tested positive for COVID-19 the next morning.
Griffith is one of 96 Utahans who contracted the virus after receiving a full vaccination. This is their final dose over two weeks.
Tom Hudachko, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health, said: “We call these “breakthrough cases.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the Pfizer vaccine received by Griffith was 95% effective in preventing COVID-19, while Moderna was 94.1% effective in the trial. Federal researchers confirmed the effectiveness of the vaccine this week, and follow-up studies have shown that the effectiveness of these vaccines is about 90%.
The Pfizer vaccine is very effective, but not 100% effective; everyone knows it,” Griffith’s husband Bryan said. “So someone has to get sick after the shot. The others must be 5%. I don’t know if we happen to have a super change or just bad luck, etc. “
There are still few breakthrough cases. For example, the Washington State Department of Health stated on March 30 that among the 1 million fully vaccinated people in Washington State, epidemiologists found evidence of 102 breakthrough cases since February 1. A week ago, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in two studies that showed that thousands of medical workers who were followed and tested had been infected after being vaccinated.
The problem with variants
Griffith’s sample is undergoing genome sequencing to see if she is infected with a variant of the virus. Ilene Risk, an epidemiologist at the Salt Lake County Department of Health, said that any patient who identified a “breakthrough” case through PCR testing (rather than rapid antigen testing) had collected samples for genome sequencing.
Hudachko said that so far, only two of the 96 breakthrough cases in Utah have been confirmed to be variants of the virus. However, these are the only two that have completed genome sequencing. As of Thursday, 39 samples are still awaiting testing in the laboratory, and another 55 samples cannot be tested for antigen.
Risk pointed out that for all 11 known breakthrough cases in Salt Lake County, laboratory work is still awaiting.
Risk said: “The state laboratory does take some time because they are also sequencing random samples, hospitalized cases, which we suspect are mutated, and other breakthrough cases.”
In total, approximately 3% of positive Utah cases are undergoing sequencing. Hudachko said that in the past four weeks, the so-called UK variant B.1.1.7 accounted for approximately 2.6% of all sequenced samples. However, this is derived from a relatively small sample.
Hudachko said: “One thing we do know is that the number of variants we are testing is increasing.” “This means that variants are spreading in Utah, especially B.1.1.7.”
But it is not clear whether any variant is more likely to get rid of the protection of the vaccine. Instead, in some people, these vaccines may only activate a weaker immune response, but not in others.
Risk said: “There is a lot of heterogeneity in the antibody response of this vaccine.”
Griffith said that although she tested positive after the vaccination, she was still upset.
She said, “I’m sure this may reduce my symptoms.” “It feels like I have a cold.”
Washington State health officials say that most Washington State residents who have confirmed cases of the breakthrough coronavirus have only mild symptoms (if any).
If the patient received only one of the two vaccines, although Utah officials did not regard the infection as a “breakthrough” case, some people who were vaccinated did have a certain protective effect-Salt Lake County is tracking the vaccine history of hospitalized patients , Please note which shot they were at least in.
Risk said that as of Monday, 43 patients in Salt Lake County have been hospitalized for possible symptoms of COVID-19, even though they have received a dose of the vaccine.
However, although these patients were positive for COVID, health officials did not rule out other possible causes for the 43 cases of hospitalization. And they are not fully vaccinated.
For Griffith, providing protection against serious diseases for those who are fully vaccinated means that she can imagine that the threat of COVID-19 is no more serious than her cold symptoms for about a week in March. -Even some people can still do it.
Griffith said: “I have to believe that hard-working scientists let us know what they are doing.” “I still encourage people to do it.”