Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Breakthrough COVID-19 hospitalizations ‘extremely uncommon’: study

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Story at a glance

  • Researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 106,349 adult primary care patients at Mayo Clinic who tested positive for COVID-19 or were vaccinated against it.
  • They found that only 69 were hospitalized due to a breakthrough infection.
  • The study also concluded there were 3 in 10,000 hospitalizations among unvaccinated but previously infected individuals.

Hospitalizations due to breakthrough COVID-19 infections are extremely uncommon, with fewer than 1 in 1,000 hospitalized with a case after getting vaccinated.  

New research from Mayo Clinic found that the hospitalization rate for vaccinated patients was 0.06 percent — or 6 in 10,000 patients — and 1 in 10,000 among those who have received their shot and acquired prior immunity through previous infection.  

“In the general primary care patient population, those who have been vaccinated have very low risk of subsequent hospitalization for breakthrough COVID-19,” lead author Benjamin Pollock said in a news release. “Our study shows that while it can and does happen, that these occurrences are extremely uncommon.” 

Researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 106,349 adult primary care patients at Mayo Clinic who tested positive for COVID-19 or were vaccinated against it. They found that only 69 were hospitalized due to a breakthrough infection. The study also concluded there were 3 in 10,000 hospitalizations among unvaccinated but previously infected individuals.  

The study, however, did seek data covering breakthrough cases in patients who were asymptomatic or experiencing mild cases.  

“We found these results to be in line with previous studies, although the interpretation shouldn’t necessarily be that natural immunity provides the same protection as vaccination,” Pollock added. “Rather, this study found that among our primary care population, both natural immunity and vaccine immunity appeared to lead to very low rates of breakthrough hospitalizations.”


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Study co-author and Mayo Clinic infectious diseases physician Aaron Tande maintains regardless of prior infection, the best protection against severe cases is vaccination.  

“Because it’s impossible to tell in advance how severe a first infection may be, or who among vulnerable populations the virus may spread to, waiting for natural immunity is a gamble and not a safe alternative,” Tande added.  

Nearly 77 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The study was published earlier this month in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.  


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