COVID-19 breakthrough infections with severe outcomes comprise 0.01% of cases

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC said 'this remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated'

Unvaccinated Americans are largely driving transmission, White House officials said Monday, and while breakthrough infections do occur, less than 1 percent of cases result in hospitalization or death.

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"This remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated, where the vast majority of spread is — in this country is among those who are unvaccinated," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said during a briefing. "While vaccinated people can spread the virus if they get a breakthrough infection, the odds of them getting sick in the first place are far lower than those who are unvaccinated."

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According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, as of July 26, the CDC received 6,587 reports of breakthrough infections that resulted in hospitalization or death against a backdrop of 163 million fully vaccinated people, translating to 0.01% or less. 

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He noted the percent ranges in places like Washington D.C. and Virginia, where breakthrough infections comprise 0.26% to 0.03% of cases, adding "the bottom line is, [breakthrough infections] are rare and they rarely result -- not rarely -- but unusually, result in hospitalization or death."

Walensky upheld the power of vaccines to prevent against poor outcomes like severe illness and death.

"In all of this, there is still good news. Our vaccines are working to prevent severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Vaccines are providing protection both for individuals and communities across the country," Walensky said.