Recently, Laura Ingraham had Yale University epidemiologist Dr. Harvey Risch, a contributor to TrialSite News, as well as researcher and author Alex Berenson on her show to discuss taking an honest look at the trends behind breakthrough COVID-19 cases, or fully-vaccinated individuals who become infected with COVID-19, and also the growing call for more lockdowns and the use of masks. Is it true that the unvaccinated, and not a confluence of factors from the Delta variant to breakthrough infections to the social determinants of health and more, are the reason the pandemic is persisting?
POTUS and various individuals associated with the White House recently declared on national media that the unvaccinated were to blame for the pandemic, but is this provocative claim based on established data? It’s not clear if it is. For example, data coming out of the UK and Israel suggests that individuals who are fully vaccinated are susceptible to infection. TrialSite discussed the Israeli data, which shows that breakthrough infections in one of the world’s most vaccinated countries represent a growing challenge.
Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in individuals who are fully vaccinated are happening, so why is Biden declaring this a pandemic of only the unvaccinated? It doesn’t make sense if you look at the number of new cases in the UK and Israel who are fully vaccinated while considering that along with an increasing case rate. Breakthrough cases are also being hospitalized. As of July 20, 40% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the UK are vaccinated ( though it’s unclear if fully or partially), while 60% are unvaccinated. In Israel, of the 143 people hospitalized, 58% are fully vaccinated and 39% are unvaccinated. In July, 20 people in Israel died from COVID-19, more than double the death rate in June, and 15 of them were fully vaccinated.
In June, CNBC reported that 4100 people in the US have died or been hospitalized from COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated. CNBC also reported that 76% of hospitalizations from breakthrough cases occur in individuals over age 65. Is this due to the potency of the Delta variant, waning immunity from the vaccine, or underlying health conditions, some related to age? It’s also worth reminding TrialSite readers that on May 1st, the CDC stopped counting breakthrough cases that did not require hospitalization or end in death. One wonders how many vaccinated people suffer at home with COVID-19 symptoms and are at risk of long-haul symptoms, but not counted as breakthrough cases.
TrialSite also reported that Delta-driven COVID-19 cases are increasing in some of the most vaccinated states in America, especially amongst the poor and minority groups. The Delta variant is more infectious than the original viral strain, but it’s not clear yet if it’s more dangerous.
Alex Berenson, a researcher and author, responded to Ingraham that the Biden administration is outright lying, based on data out of Israel and the UK. He pointed out that there is a massive number of cases in both countries, including breakthrough infections. Claiming that serious cases and deaths are only associated with unvaccinated people isn’t the case in the UK or Israel. The vaccines are protective, Berenson acknowledged, but emphasized that the vaccine clinical trials weren’t powered to assess durability, meaning we don’t know the length or strength of vaccine-induced immunity. The clinical trials also included few elderly people, who may be at the greatest risk for breakthrough cases.
Berenson shared that, for some reason, “POTUS is punishing people like me and trying to get Twitter to de-platform people like me and attack people like you” referring to Ingraham, which the author denounced as “just wrong.”
TrialSite suggests POTUS isn’t lying but rather has bought into a unifying, totalistic narrative that may not represent a truly accurate understanding of what’s truly unfolding now. The pandemic, novel vaccines, a lack of early care options—at least formally authorized by health authorities—along with politicization from all sides, makes the overall situation ever more tense and volatile. Certainly, the right answer, however, is not to just point the finger at a large group of people and declare they are the only problem. That more than likely will have an oppositional consequence, one that will unleash further divide, we unfortunately anticipate. What’s needed is more unity, more acceptance of diverse concerns, and more transparency into risks of the current vaccination program across the board. With transparency comes trust and engagement.