Post-vaccination “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections are being taken “seriously,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday as federal officials expressed concern about rising coronavirus cases in the US.
“With regard to the breakthrough cases of people who have been vaccinated and ultimately have gotten infection, obviously this is something that we take seriously and follow closely,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert said during virtual White House coronavirus briefing.
Fauci explained that some breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated individuals with any vaccination effort is not entirely uncommon.
“You will see breakthrough infections in any vaccination when you’re vaccinating literally tens and tens and tens of millions of people, so in some respects that’s not surprising,” said Fauci.
Fauci said that “one of the important things that will be done, and must be done is to sequence the genome of the virus that’s the breakthrough virus” in order to find out whether infection was from the original virus strain or one of the COVID-19 variants.
“It would be very important to see if they broke through with the wild-type virus, which would indicate a real diminution of immunity or whether it broke through with one of the variants, which would be much more explainable if you don’t have enough cross-reactivity,” he said.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added, “So all of that information will be collected and will be very informative to us about the type and the frequency of breakthrough that we’ll be seeing.”
Fauci’s comments come after Minnesota reported this week 89 breakthrough infections among people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
None of them were among Minnesota’s 6,798 COVID-19 fatalities, including the nine deaths reported Wednesday, and doctors noted that even those who were hospitalized after being vaccinated had milder illness, the Star Tribune reported.
Meanwhile, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during the briefing that the US is averaging about 57,000 COVID-19 cases per day and that the seven-day average of cases has ticked up by 7 percent.
“I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory,” she said.