The complete report by statisticians Kevin Dayaratna and Norbert Michel is A Statistical Analysis of COVID-19 Breakthrough Infections and Deaths.
Summary of Principal findings:
According to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant represented more than 80 percent of new U.S. COVID-19 cases at the end of July 2021. This fact has almost surely added to Americans’ concerns about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines since coverage of breakthrough cases has permeated the news. The CDC has also sent mixed messages, creating confusion and unnecessary fear. The overall evidence remains clear: Vaccines provide people with significant protection against serious illness or death from the coronavirus, including the Delta variant. Public health guidelines should reflect this reality.
- The CDC announced new COVID-19 guidelines for the vaccinated based on data that allegedly imply that vaccines offer little protection against the Delta variant.
- The new data simply do not support such evidence, and the CDC’s latest move to re-impose mask mandates runs the risk of increasing vaccine hesitancy.
- Health guidelines must reflect the reality that vaccines provide significant protection against serious illness or death from the virus, including the Delta variant.
COVID-19 Cases, Deaths, and Vaccines
Chart 1 presents new daily cases and deaths over the course of the pandemic.
As Chart 1 demonstrates, COVID-19 cases and deaths declined significantly for much of the first half of 2021 as more Americans were vaccinated. While the U.S. is experiencing a surge in cases due to the Delta variant, most of these cases are among the unvaccinated, and COVID-19 deaths are nowhere near the levels before vaccines were authorized.
Furthermore, as of August 4, 2021, more than 164 million Americans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 191 million people having acquired partial immunity through at least one dose. More than 80 percent of Americans 65 and older are fully vaccinated.
Yet, among those fully vaccinated, the CDC reports 7,525 COVID-19 patients who either were hospitalized or died, a figure representing 0.005 percent of the fully vaccinated. This CDC statistic reflects data as of August 2, 2021.
According to the CDC, 74 percent of these cases were people ages 65 and older, 26 percent of these hospitalizations were reported as asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19, and 21 percent (316) of the 1,507 fatal cases were reported as asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19.
The CDC “Study” of Barnstable County, Massachusetts
According to The New York Times, the State of Massachusetts and Barnstable County have adult vaccination rates of 74.8 percent and 76 percent, respectively. These statistics assume full vaccination. The town of Provincetown itself (where many of the celebratory events took place) has a vaccination rate of 95 percent. Although it is unclear what the actual vaccination rate was among the attendees, Dr. Ingu Yun, who attended the festivities and engaged in a similar analysis associated only with fully vaccinated people, suggests that the vaccination rate of attendees was well above 90 percent.
That is, assuming a 90 percent vaccination rate, only 1.21 percent of the estimated 54,000 vaccinated attendees, and 4.67 percent of the estimated 6,000 unvaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19. Of course, the festivities had many out-of-town visitors, making it difficult to ascertain the true vaccination rate among attendees.
What Are Your Odds Now
Of course, there will continue to be breakthrough cases, but the CDC’s own data indicate that the truth is the vaccines have had over 90% efficacy against hospitalization and death.
Not surprisingly, however, among the unvaccinated, COVID-19 can still be quite deadly, especially for the elderly and those with chronic conditions. The following chart puts those odds in perspective with other causes of death.
As the chart illustrates, however, the odds of dying of COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, although not zero, are slim to none. In fact, those under 65 have significantly higher odds of getting struck by lightning.