Massachusetts health officials on Tuesday reported around 27,500 new breakthrough COVID cases over the last week, a sign of slowing case rates, and 290 more deaths in people with breakthrough cases.
In the last week, 27,530 new breakthrough cases -- infections in people who have been vaccinated -- were reported, with 555 more vaccinated people hospitalized over the period, Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials said Tuesday. It's a 40% drop in the rate of new breakthrough cases in Massachusetts -- the previous week saw 46,092 new COVID infections in vaccinated people.
The new report brings the total number of breakthrough cases to 422,132 and the death toll among people with breakthrough infections to 1,789.
Both figures remain a tiny percentage of the total number of all people who have been vaccinated.
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The equivalent of just 0.12% of vaccinated people have been hospitalized with COVID and 8.1% have had confirmed infections. An even smaller percentage has died: 0.03%. 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 been trending downward after spiking to heights not seen since previous surges, a peak thought to be driven at least in part by the omicron variant.
On Tuesday the state reported 2,628 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in the state since the start of the pandemic to 1,488,251. There were 127 new deaths reported -- a statistic that includes three days because of the weekend -- bringing the death toll to 21,546. The seven-day average test positivity stands at 7.13% -- down from the day before.
There are 1,965 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with 307 in intensive care and 191 intubated.
The state has started releasing a new breakdown of virus hospitalizations, data that indicates whether COVID-19 is the primary cause of hospitalization, or incidental. This data shows that from Jan. 13 to Jan. 31, roughly 50% of COVID-19 patients were primary cases.
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. Officials also warn that health care systems are still under great pressure from the influx of COVID-19 patients and related staffing shortages.
Nearly 13.5 million vaccine doses have now been administered in Massachusetts. That includes more than 5.7 million first doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, 4.8 million second shots, and over 339,000 Johnson & Johnson one-dose shots. Over 2.6 million booster shots have been administered.
Health officials on Tuesday reported that a total of 5,206,092 Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated.
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