The number of people who are fully vaccinated who catch coronavirus anyway may look high, but it really is not, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday.
“The vaccines are doing exactly what we're asking them to do when it comes to keeping you out of the hospital, out of serious disease and certainly preventing your death,” Fauci told a White House Covid-19 Response briefing.
“An important point to bring up is that the greater percentage of people that are vaccinated, even with a high degree of protection, the absolute number of breakthrough infections might appear high. That's not the critical number. The critical number is what is the proportion of the vaccinated, people who in fact, are, are getting breakthrough infections, and that's the critical one,” Fauci added.
He did not give a number there—the denominator of the fraction. But earlier in the briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did. She noted 346 confirmed breakthrough infections in an outbreak involving Provincetown, Massachusetts – and then noted that tens of thousands of people were likely exposed.
“During the summer, some towns in Barnstable county can have up to 240,000 visitors per month,” Walensky noted.
Some of those people will get infected even if they are vaccinated, Fauci said. “You can expect breakthrough infections,” he said. “Most of these infections are going to be asymptomatic or mild,” he added.
“The bottom line of what we are saying is that … Get vaccinated. I say that every single time.”
Fauci also repeated details of just how strongly the vaccines reduce risk.
“Covid vaccines give strong protection against the Delta variant, and it protects you, your family and your community,” he added. “For disease itself, it’s an eight-fold reduction. For hospitalization, 25-fold reduction and for death, 25-fold reduction.”