Friday Stats and More

Based on the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 Data Tracker website, here is the FEHBlog’s chart of new weekly COVID-19 cases and deaths over the 14th week of 2020 through 19th week of this year (beginning April 2, 2020, and ending May 12, 2021; using Thursday as the first day of the week in order to facilitate this weekly update):

and here is the CDC’s latest overall weekly hospitalization rate chart for COVID-19:

The FEHBlog has noticed that the new cases and deaths chart shows a flat line for new weekly deaths  because new cases greatly exceed new deaths. Accordingly here is a chart of new COVID-19 deaths over the period April 2, 2020, through May 12, 2021:

Finally here is a COVID-19 vaccinations chart over the period December 17, 2020, through May 12, 2021, which also uses Thursday as the first day of the week:

As of today, 43% of the U.S. population over age 12, 46% of the U.S. population over age 18, and 72% of the U.S. population over age 65 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as reflected in the dropping case, hospitalization and death counts. It’s encouraging.

The FEHBlog heard today about the New York Yankees eight “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections. All of the infected team members had received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and one previously had the disease. Only one of the infected team members was symptomatic; the other infections were identified through regular testing. STAT News explains

Eight breakthrough infections seem like a lot, and something odd could be at play here. But it’s notable that only Nevin had some symptoms. It’s possible that at least some, if not all, of the other seven other infections would have been missed if they didn’t occur on a team that’s undergoing regular testing.

Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of 9,245 breakthrough cases, a tiny fraction of which resulted in hospitalization or death. More than 118 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated. The low number of breakthrough infections has been touted as a testament to the power of vaccines, which are providing both protection for individuals and helping drive down transmission.

But experts also point out two caveats with the number of breakthrough infections. For one, some large number of the people who’ve been fully vaccinated haven’t since been exposed to the coronavirus, so it’s not known how many infections there would have been without that vaccine coverage. The tally of breakthroughs is also certainly an undercount because many asymptomatic cases go undetected — unless, of course, they occur in a setting with widespread and frequent testing, like on a professional sports team.

Two extra points: Starting Friday, the CDC will only report breakthrough infections that lead to hospitalization or death because those have the “greatest clinical and public health importance.” The Yankees cases, of course, didn’t rise to that level.

And Torres, the shortstop, had Covid-19 last year, indicating that his case is both a breakthrough infection and a reinfection. Scientists think reinfections remain rare, though given that second infections are generally thought to be mild or asymptomatic (akin to breakthrough infections), experts similarly don’t have great estimates for how often they occur. But considering Torres was asymptomatic, his case fit with what experts expect from most reinfections.