Only two ‘breakthrough’ Covid infections found among 417 vaccinated people at a New York City university, study finds
- Researchers looked at 417 employees at Rockefeller University in New York City who received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines
- Just two people, 0.5%, tested positive more than two weeks after getting their final dose in so-called ‘breakthrough cases’
- One case featured the E484K mutation, first identified in the South African and Brazilian variants, and the other the S477N mutation, seen in the NYC variant
- The patients, both of whom were women, had mild infections and easily recovered
- Experts say the data show that vaccines are effective but that mutations can evade the antibody response from the immune system
Less than one percent of people at a New York City school who were fully immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine tested positive for coronavirus, a new study finds.
These so-called ‘breakthrough cases’ occur when people test positive for the virus at least 14 days after receiving their final dose of the vaccine, and which officials say is not surprising.
Researchers found that just two people – or 0.5 percent – out of 417 employees at Rockefeller University who received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines later contracted the virus.
Both patients had mild infections and easily recovered.
The data show how well the vaccines work in real life and suggest that falling ill with COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated is very rare.
Just two people out of 417 employees at Rockefeller University in New York City who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 later tested positive for the virus. Pictured: Maritza Nieves (right) is tested for coronavirus antibodies in Santa Fe Springs, California, April 21
One case featured the E484K mutation (middle), first identified in the South African and Brazilian variants, and the other the S477N mutation (right), seen in the NYC variant
Experts have warned that breakthrough cases will continue to occur as tens of millions of people are vaccinated across the country.
In clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was 95 percent effective in preventing symptomatic disease and the Moderna vaccine was 94.5 percent effective,
Meanwhile, real-world data showed the Pfizer jab was 91 percent effective against all disease for at least six months and the Moderna vaccine was 90 percent effective.
This means that fully vaccinated people are between 90 and 95 percent less likely to develop COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.
‘We have characterized bona fide examples of vaccine breakthrough manifesting as clinical symptoms,’ the authors of the new study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, wrote.
‘These observations in no way undermine the importance of the urgent efforts being taken at the federal and state levels to vaccinate the U.S. population.’
The two people who were vaccinated were both women, both of whom had mild cases and recovered easily.
Experts say the data show that vaccines are effective but that mutations can evade the antibody response from the immune system (seen with patient 1)
The first case was a 51-year-old who received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine on February 19. She tested positive for coronavirus just 19 days later.
The second case was a 65-year-old woman who was given her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on February 9.
Three weeks later, on March 3, her unvaccinated partner tested positive, with the woman testing positive herself on March 17.
Results from genome sequencing found that coronavirus variants caused the breakthrough infections rather than the original virus.
Samples from the first patient showed the E484K mutation, first identified in the South African and Brazilian variants.
Studies have found that this mutation more easily escapes vaccines and reduces the effects of antibody neutralization,
Meanwhile the second patient was found to have the S477N mutation, most commonly seen in the New York City homegrown variant.
It comes just one week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed less than 0.01 percent of Americans been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 later contracted the disease.
‘So far, about 5,800 breakthrough cases have been reported to CDC,’ the federal health agency wrote to CNN in an email.
‘To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics.’
The CDC also told CNN that seven percent of those 5,800 cases – or 396 people – were later hospitalized and 74 of them died of COVID-19.