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Maryland doctors explain increases in breakthrough COVID-19 cases

September 8th, 2021 by WCBC Radio

The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to increase. WBAL reports more cases were recorded Tuesday than on this date in 2020. The vast majority are unvaccinated people, but there's also been an increase in breakthrough cases among vaccinated people. The number of breakthrough infections among Marylanders went up more than 20% from June to August. But health officials said those who are vaccinated are still less likely to get seriously ill, be hospitalized or die.

"We're seeing that people are significantly sicker and much sooner than they were with the original variant," Dr. Kinjal Sheth, chief of critical care at Northwest Hospital, said.

In Maryland, just 5% of new cases were vaccinated people in June compared to 27% in August, with nearly the same increase in patients who are hospitalized.

"It's a combination of the time since vaccination and a variant that requires higher levels of antibodies to protect us. That's probably creating this situation where we're seeing more breakthrough infections," Dr. William Moss, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said.

Moss said those who are older, or are immunocompromised, are more likely to have a breakthrough infection. He said those infected do get a boost in antibodies, but the Food and Drug Administration will have to decide if those people still need a booster shot.

"I would be surprised if they say people who have been infected after being vaccinated do not need booster doses, but I understand the argument, those people's immune systems have been boosted by an additional exposure to the virus," Moss said.