Follow Up on Breakthrough Infections and Outcomes

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August 3, 2021 8:34 p.m.

Let me update you on my post from this morning about states and jurisdictions which are reporting COVID data by vaccination status. That’s a mouthful. So, for clarity, breakdowns of how many cases, hospitalizations and deaths are in people who are fully vaccinated versus the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

One follower on Twitter was kind enough to flag this Kaiser Foundation study which looks at just who is compiling this information. A team from Kaiser surveyed all the state dashboards in addition to non-governmental information sources to see who’s following what. The study has a chart with data from a couple dozen states which provide a breakdown of cases among the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.

The problem is that these breakdowns are cumulative – basically everything going back to the beginning of the year. Early in the year very few people were vaccinated, most states still had some level of mitigations in effect and there was no Delta variant. To understand the reality of late summer 2021 we really want to know breakdowns for June and July.

The study also has very helpful table which tells you which states are publishing data on what. So for instance we learn that Oklahoma is publishing this data weekly, Oregon monthly and Ohio not at all. At a minimum, this allows you to know which states are worth looking. I’m just starting to make my way through the different states. But at first glance most have the same problem I mentioned above: they provide only cumulative data on breakthrough infections and outcomes.

So far – and I’m really just getting started – Oregon is the only state besides Virginia I’ve found with recent breakdowns. Their latest data is from June in which 92% of all cases were among the unvaccinated. Washington state has a very comprehensive COVID portal. But their only breakthrough data (at least that I’ve been able to find) is cumulative from February until June.

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If you know of other data sources from any jurisdiction in the US which provides this data for recent time periods please let me know.

Late Update: A bit more hunting around confirms that very few states are publishing information on breakthrough infections which zero in on the last eight weeks or so that are relevant to the Delta variant wave. Almost every state that publishes some information does so on a cumulative basis stretching back to the early days of mass COVID vaccination. For these purposes that’s not very helpful … One other point while I have you. A lot of data is floating around which provides the total number of vaccinated people in a given state and then provides some infinitesimally small percentage who’ve gotten sick or died of COVID. That’s nice to hear if you’re vaccinated and spooked by recent news. But at least to my only semi-numerate brain, that doesn’t tell you very much. What you really want is total number of cases, hospitalizations or deaths broken down by vaccination status. That tells you something concrete about vaccine efficacy. It’s not perfect since the testing isn’t random surveillance testing but in response to exposure or illness. But it still gives you some concrete information. My hunting suggests that very few states are publishing anything like that.

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