Thanks to the Delta variant that’s currently making its way across the country, the number of COVID-19 cases is climbing again. So far, the outbreaks have involved both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
But when it comes to how the virus affects you, the data shows that there are some huge differences depending on vaccination status.
The Vaccine Is Working
More than half of the adult U.S. population has been fully vaccinated (approximately 179 million people), and the numbers show that the vaccine is doing its job. The death rate is statistically zero, and the immunizations are also keeping the vast majority of vaccinated people out of the hospital.
As of late July, about 26 adults per 100,000 vaccinated people had been hospitalized for COVID-19 compared to 431 for every 100,000 unvaccinated individuals. That means more than 97% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were unvaccinated.
What’s more, research from the University of California Davis Health showed that only 0.04% of fully vaccinated people in the United States have reported a breakthrough COVID case.
Those numbers show amazing vaccine success, and should be celebrated. But researchers did point out that 0.04% of 179 million amounts to about 71,000 people. This means some vaccinated individuals are still at risk of contracting the virus.
What Is A Breakthrough Case?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a vaccine breakthrough case is defined as the detection of “SARS-CoV-2 RNA or antigen” (COVID-19) in someone more than 14 days after they’ve completed all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that’s been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In other words, a breakthrough case occurs when someone who has been fully vaccinated tests positive for the virus more than two weeks after getting the jab.
The Most Common Symptoms Of A Breakthrough Infection
If you are vaccinated and end up being one of those rare breakthrough cases, chances are you won’t exhibit any symptoms at all. But if you do show symptoms, they will be very mild because and very similar to those of a common cold.
“COVID is acting differently now. It’s more like a bad cold; people might think they’ve just got some sort of seasonal cold,” Tim Spector, professor of epidemiology at King’s College London, explains in a video released on YouTube by the COVID Symptom Study.
Spector says that the number one symptom for those infected with the Delta variant is a headache. Other symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, and fever. Spector also noted that the loss of smell isn’t a common symptom with the Delta variant.
According to Yale Medicine, the research shows that people with breakthrough delta cases carry an incredible amount of the virus in their nose and throat. This is why you might have one of the following symptoms if you’re vaccinated but still test positive for COVID-19.
The CDC explains that if you contract the Delta variant and you are vaccinated, symptoms may appear as soon as two days after exposure. But it can take up to 14 days to show signs of the virus, and the progression of the Delta variant varies widely.
Individuals who have been vaccinated but still get the rare breakthrough infection rarely end up in the hospital. And the chances of the situation being fatal are almost zero.
Here’s What To Do
If you think you’ve been exposed—or if you are experiencing cold-like symptoms—the CDC suggests calling your healthcare provider. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you should still get tested for COVID-19.