Two people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Clark County have died after receiving rare “breakthrough cases” of the disease, local health authorities report.
In addition, a total of 23 immunized people have been hospitalized, according to a April 29 Southern Nevada Health District report. In total, the report identified 141 breakthrough cases that occur when a person tests positive for COVID-19 two or more weeks after a final dose of vaccine.
UNLV epidemiologist Brian Labus said the small number of breakthrough cases that resulted in serious results is welcome news. More than 600,000 county residents have been fully vaccinated.
“This is something rare enough that it did not show up until we vaccinated over half a million people,”
The health district report did not contain specific information on the breakthrough cases for patients who died and were admitted.
All three vaccines widely administered in Nevada – Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson – reduce a person’s ability to contract COVID-19 and the likelihood that they will become seriously ill if they contract the disease.
While clinical trials with the vaccines showed that COVID-19 did not hospitalize or kill anyone who was fully immunized, Labus said the efficacy of the vaccines is now being tested on a much larger scale.
“If you have something that occurs in one in every 100,000 people, it may not have been shown in the clinical trial,” he said.
Of the 141 breakthrough cases, the health district had only linked one to a COVID-19 variant. This patient had received B.1.1.7 from the UK, which the CDC describes as a more contagious strain.
The vast majority of patients had no travel history. About half were white, the largest proportion of any racial group. Cases were divided almost evenly between men and women.
54 cases were among persons aged 65 years and older, who are among the most prone to severe infection. A further 56 were among people aged 25 to 49. No one was identified among 16 or 17-year-olds, the youngest age group receiving the vaccine.
Due to ongoing high levels of COVID-19 circulation, the health district reports that “thousands of symptomatic vaccine breakthrough cases are expected, although the vaccines remain as effective as demonstrated during clinical trials.”
Nationally, there had been 9,245 breakthrough cases reported to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as of April 26.
This is a story that is evolving. Come back for updates.
Contact Michael Scott Davidson at email@example.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.