Massachusetts health officials have reported more than 10,000 new breakthrough COVID cases over the last week, and nine new deaths in people with breakthrough cases.
COVID-19 breakthrough numbers typically post before 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, but there have been reporting delays in recent weeks.
In the last week, 10,624 new breakthrough cases -- infections in people who have been vaccinated -- were reported, with 133 more vaccinated people hospitalized over the period, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday. In the previous period, there were 4,154 new breakthrough cases reported.
This increase reflects the increasing case counts being seen across the state.
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The new report brings the total number of breakthrough cases to 482,750 and the death toll among people with breakthrough infections to 2,244.
These figures remain a small percentage of the total number of all people who have been vaccinated.
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The equivalent of just 0.15% of vaccinated people have been hospitalized with COVID and 9% have had confirmed infections. An even smaller percentage has died: 0.04%. The report also doesn't indicate how many of the breakthrough cases are in people with underlying conditions, though it also notes that "may be undercounted due to discrepancies" in records.
While vaccinated people are getting COVID-19, the virus' effects are severely blunted in them, and breakthrough cases rarely lead to hospitalizations or deaths. In December, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials released a study that found that 97% of breakthrough cases in the state did not become severely ill and rarely led to deaths, especially among young people.
That's why public health officials worldwide continue to stress the importance of vaccination and booster shots. (If you still need to be vaccinated, here's a tool to find the closest vaccination provider to your home.
Massachusetts' COVID metrics, tracked on the Department of Public Health's interactive coronavirus dashboard, have declined since the omicron surge and appear to have leveled out.
On Wednesday the state reported 1,853 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the grand total since the pandemic began to 1,596,013. There were 24 new deaths reported, bringing the death toll to 19,085. The seven-day average positivity rate came in at 4.34% on Wednesday.
There are 373 patients currently hospitalized with the virus, of which 107 are primary cases. As of Wednesday's data, there are 29 patients in ICU and 10 patients intubated.
There has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state as well as an uptick in the levels of the virus found in wastewater as tracked by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's tracking system. The levels remain nowhere near where they were during the omicron surge.
Hospitalizations and deaths in the state remain relatively low.
Experts have said that case count reporting may be a less accurate indicator during the omicron surge, given the difficulties in getting tested and widespread use of rapid tests that go unreported.
The so-called "stealth" omicron variant, BA.2, is the most prevalent strain in the Northeast at the moment. There are concerns this subvariant could lead to another spike in cases, though as of now the numbers do not reflect levels near the omicron surge seen at the end of 2021 and beginning of the year.
More than 14 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts. That includes more than 5.8 million first doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 5 million second shots, and over 342,000 Johnson & Johnson one-dose shots. Over 2.9 million booster shots have been administered.
Health officials on Wednesday reported that a total of 5,348,493 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.
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