Breakthrough cases double in Clark County as Omicron wave hits
In September, nearly 20 percent of Clark County’s COVID-19 cases were among the vaccinated. These “breakthrough” cases were an indication that the current vaccinations did not “protect” individuals from getting sick from the coronavirus. By the end of December, 43 percent of county cases were either fully or partially vaccinated people, according to Clark County Public Health (CCPH).
The Washington Department of Health (DOH) updated statewide breakthrough cases late Wednesday, showing a 43 percent increase over the previous reporting period. In the past year, there have been 123,365 breakthrough cases in the state, with 3 percent of those individuals being hospitalized according to the report.
Reports of breakthrough cases raised concerns about the effectiveness of vaccinations. This coincided with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changing the definition of “vaccine” from providing “immunity” from a pathogen to offering “protection.”
The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus has hit the U.S. and Washington state. In Clark County, the Public Health department reported 1,493 new cases between Dec. 23 and 29. By Jan. 6, that had more than doubled to 3,261 confirmed and probable cases.
The Omicron variant appears to be the majority of new cases in the state. Early reports indicate it has much less severe symptoms, but is far more transmissible than the Delta variant that spread this summer and fall.
Omicron was responsible for 98.3 percent of new coronavirus cases in the United States last week, according to estimates posted Tuesday by the CDC. Dr. Anthony Fauci said the highly contagious variant will “find just about everybody.’’
“Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody,” Fauci said. “Those who have been vaccinated … and boosted would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death.”
The vaccines appear to not prevent the spread of Omicron, if the early reports continue to be true. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are now getting COVID-19 according to to the DOH. Officials share that the vaccinated are less likely to be hospitalized or experience “severe” symptoms.
The Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has revealed that two doses of the current COVID-19 vaccine offer “very limited protection, if any” against Omicron. His firm is working on an Omicron specific vaccine they hope to present to the FDA in March.
The “breakthrough” cases, as they have become known, appear to now be half the total new cases in the state. Comparing a Dec. 21 report with a Dec. 14 report, the DOH shows that 51 percent of new cases appear to be breakthrough.cases of previously vaccinated people.
The DOH reports 86,237 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine breakthrough cases have been identified in Washington state through Dec. 11 in a Dec. 22 report. Of the cases that have data available (approximately 50 percent): 87 percent reported symptoms and 8 percent were hospitalized. They report 851 people died of COVID-related illness since January 2021.
South Africa is where Omicron originated. The prolific Omicron wave appears to be subsiding there just as quickly as it grew.
New reports indicate Omicron is even more transmissible. Preliminary findings from two South African clinical trials suggest the Omicron coronavirus variant has a much higher rate of “asymptomatic carriage” than earlier variants, which could explain why it has spread so rapidly across the globe.
The studies — one of which was carried out when Omicron infections were surging in South Africa last month and another which resampled participants around the same time — found a far greater number of people tested positive for the coronavirus but were not showing symptoms compared to previous trials.
One study showed a 31 percent positivity rate, and the other showed a 16 percent level of positive cases. Previous studies, prior to Omicron, indicated a 1 to 2 percent positivity rate for the Moderna vaccine, and a 2.6 percent positivity rate for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
South Africa experienced a surge in COVID-19 infections from late November, around the time its scientists alerted the world to Omicron. But new cases have since fallen back and early indications are that the wave has been marked by less serious disease than earlier ones.
“I think it’s hard to process what’s actually happening right now, which is: most people are going to get COVID,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said Tuesday at a Senate committee hearing. “And what we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function, transportation, you know, other essential services are not disrupted while this happens.”
Early treatment appears to be the key to dealing with getting any variant of COVID-19. “When you do get this virus, get treatment,” said Vancouver resident Bryan White on social media. “Don’t wait. Just get started taking care of yourself.”
White got the coronavirus in early January. He used budesonide treatment with a nebulizer, boosted his intake of several vitamins, and took melatonin to help his immune system. White also used ivermectin to fight the virus.
By the fourth day, his blood oxygen was consistently above 95 percent when walking around. It stayed at 99 percent while he was seated. “Early treatment works,” White said.
The state DOH says “COVID-19 vaccines are effective and critical tools to aid in the control of this pandemic. Large scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccines prevented most people from getting COVID-19 illness, but like most other vaccines, they are not 100 percent effective. This means some fully vaccinated people will still get infected with SARS-CoV-2. These individuals may or may not develop COVID-19 symptoms.”
CCPH currently reports 12 percent of hospital beds are occupied by patients with COVID-19. Just under 25 percent of intensive care unit beds are occupied by patients with the virus.
Here in Clark County, there are several resources available to help citizens who test positive for COVID-19. Earlytreatment.com offers information to citizens on the virus and treatments. Clarkcovidhelp.com also has information.