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There's still much to learn about breakthrough COVID-19 cases

The CDC is no longer monitoring all breakthrough cases. Health experts say that data is needed to make the right public health decisions.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There's quite a bit about COVID-19 and vaccines that we still don't know. 

While the vaccines are up to 95 percent effective against COVID-19, there have been breakthrough cases. That's where those who are vaccinated test positive. The CDC was monitoring all reported breakthroughs. However, back in May, as more people got vaccinated, the feds transitioned to focusing on cases where someone went to the hospital or died. They said that data would have the greatest importance.

“The question is are we getting more cases than we should be seeing as breakthrough cases," Dr. Jill Roberts at USF Health said. "That’s really hard to determine because there isn’t a good source of data, so there’s a lot of people looking at this. They’re sequencing this strain from the people who got breakthrough cases to see if it’s really Delta variant or if the thing has mutated again."

“We’re trying to figure out what’s going on. Is this really, truly a vaccine failure or is it expected numbers? And without the data, we can’t tell,” she added.

Dr. Roberts says she would like to see more information on variants – like which populations contracted them, if they're vaccinated, and what they do for living so doctors can have a better idea of infection control.

A CDC advisory panel will meet next week to consider if immunocompromised patients need a booster. More data on the breakthrough cases could help guide that decision.

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