For me, the key take-home messages in this article and this other one that it links to are these:
- The rate of break-through infections in fully vaccinated people is about 0.2%, or 1 in 5001
- The chance that a break-through infection will require hospitalisation is about 4%
- The chance that someone will die from a break-through infection is about 1%
- If fully vaccinated, your risk of a Covid-19 infection developing into “Long Covid” seems to be halved, to about 10%
The article is also very big on individual measures you can take to reduce your personal risk, like masking up, avoiding large social gatherings, etc.. It also makes the remark that people who are sick should stay home and there needs to be more social support (like paid sick leave) to enable that to happen, and that realistically this should have been in place long before the pandemic, which is totally true. But overall it’s definitely pushing the “open up faster sooner, and if you’re scared, you take precautions” line, which I find unsatisfying, because the laziness of indifferent people affects others. I would like to see our vaccination rate much higher before I would really feel comfortable, like 90%+ of everybody (not just those aged 16+, and why are we even measuring our vaccination rate by only those aged 16+?).
See, what the article does not really go into, which is a very big concern for us here in Australia, is the health system’s capacity to cope with ongoing infections in unvaccinated people (which, after all, currently includes many disabled people who our government deprioritised for vaccination , everyone under the age of 12, and 12–15 year olds haven’t been eligible for long enough to be fully vaccinated yet either). After years on end of “efficiency dividends”, our hospital system was basically running at 100%+ capacity at all times even before the pandemic – you can see the crisis at work in states like WA and SA which are virtually Covid-free, and still seeing ambulances ramping for hours and hours because there are zero beds available in emergency rooms. If we reopen now, yeah my personal risk of contracting Covid and needing hospitalisation is extremely low because I’m double-vaccinated (two weeks since my second dose today, baby!). However, if a fucking car runs a red light and mows me down while I’m walking to the supermarket, will a local hospital actually have a bed to treat me or will they all be occupied by Covid patients?
The Atlantic article describes the rate as 1 in 5,000, but then goes on to say that the risk of hospitalisation is 0.008%, which sounds off because that’d mean a full 40% of break-through infections require hospitalisation. (Now, it could well be that 40% of all break-through infections that the CDC knows about require hospitalisation…) At any rate, the NIH article linked to from the Atlantic article instead describes the rate of break-through infections as 0.2%. ↩︎