State working with CDC to track ‘breakthrough’ COVID cases

The Washington State Department of Health says it is working with the Centers for Disease Control to track “breakthrough” COVID cases.

“Breakthrough” cases are when someone has been fully vaccinated and still contracts COVID. The state expects to see breakthrough cases and wants to be prepared.

“We are all over this one and this is a big concern for us. We know we will see breakthrough cases it’s just what does the breakthrough case look like, who are they, where are they, and what vaccines if any show a higher rate of breakthrough,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, the acting health officer for the Department of Health. “We actually are in discussion with the CDC -- about how many breakthrough cases should Washington be expecting because we know that vaccine isn’t 100%.”

The state is working to vaccinate people as quickly as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. Along with cutting down the number of deaths and hospitalizations, they want to reduce chances of variants.

“Every case is an opportunity for the virus to mutate, so the fewer cases we have in the community, we are preventing new variants from arising,” said Pavitra Roychoudhury, Ph.D., at UW Medicine.

Roychoudhury works in the UW Medicine Virology lab where she says they’re able to process up to 15,000 COVID tests a day. At the same time, they are sequencing 500-600 positives tests a week, searching for variants. That’s where they identified the arrival of the Brazil variant in King County.

“This variant has been associated with increased transmissibility and there’s some concern vaccines may be less effective against the variant and that people may be reinfected,” said Roychoudhury.

The state is also tracking the variants, and says there are 156 cases, statewide.

At this point the state has not identified any breakthrough cases. They say surveillance is a critical tool during the pandemic.

A new variant was also identified in New York.

“What we don’t understand with 1.526 is whether or not people are being reinfected with it and whether or not people who might have been vaccinated are now getting infected with it,” said former FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Face the Nation on Sunday.