As the delta variant of the coronavirus pandemic continues causing a spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths across South Carolina, the latest data from state health officials shows a troubling uptick in exposure for those who have received their Covid-19 vaccines.
According to data released on Tuesday by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), during the month of July 2021 the state reported a total of 26,848 Covid-19 cases – of which a little more than half (14,262) were cases “where we were able to determine vaccine status.” Of those cases, a total of 12,491 (or 88 percent) involved individuals who were not “fully vaccinated,” according to the state.
When it came to hospitalizations, SCDHEC identified 550 people hospitalized “with” Covid-19 during the last month whose vaccination status was known. Of those, 424 (or 77 percent) were not fully vaccinated.
Finally, of the 110 deaths attributed to Covid-19 and its attendant comorbidities involving individuals whose vaccination status was known, 87 (or 79 percent) were not fully vaccinated.
SCDHEC did not provide data on what percentage of cases, hospitalizations and deaths were linked to individuals who may have had one but not both of their Covid-19 shots.
Also worth noting? SCDHEC did not provide a breakdown of which vaccines were faring better at warding off the virus and its worst consequences, although a Mayo Clinic study released earlier this month (which is awaiting peer review) indicated the Moderna vaccine is far more effective than the Pfizer jab at blocking breakthrough infections.
Here is a look at the data the agency did release …
(Click to view)
While the numbers continue to show vaccination providing a hedge of protection against this virus, the trend lines are clearly moving in the wrong direction. During the month of June, SCDHEC data of individuals whose vaccination status was known showed that 93 percent of reported cases, 86 percent of hospitalizations and 90 percent of deaths.
“The overwhelming majority of people who are continuing to get COVID-19 and who are getting hospitalized and dying from this disease are those who are not fully vaccinated,” assistant state epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said in assessing the June data. “I can’t think of a more impactful point to make that would encourage someone who hasn’t yet received their shots to do so right away.”
So … what did SCDHEC leaders say after the July data revealed double digit percentage shifts in the number of hospitalizations and deaths linked to fully vaccinated South Carolinians?
“Obviously, we are seeing an increase in breakthrough cases, hospitalizations, and deaths for the month of July,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, SCDHEC’s public health director. “The rise of highly transmissible variants like delta and lagging vaccination rates have led to increases in these categories overall, including breakthrough cases. But it is important to note that cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among fully vaccinated residents are still rare. And in most situations of breakthrough cases, the person has no symptoms or very mild ones that clear up in a matter of days.”
As I have said from the beginning of this ongoing debate, I believe vaccinations are safe and (still) effective at preventing Covid-19 infection, hospitalization and death. Accordingly, I received both of my shots (after having previously had Covid-19 at least once).
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Having said that, I have consistently maintained vaccination is a personal choice … despite ongoing efforts by some to mandate it. In fact as I noted in a recent post, “I can’t believe we are even debating the issue as citizens of what is supposed to be a free country.”
No one should have to lose their job because they declined to be vaccinated … and more importantly, no one should lose their job because government decided to impose another round of draconian societal shutdowns in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.
Also, while this delta data – and these breakthrough numbers – are disturbing, some context is necessary.
Covid-19 is dangerous and occasionally deadly, to be sure, but it continues to pose a comparatively insignificant threat to younger, healthier citizens. According to the latest SCDHEC data, 85.9 percent of deaths “with” Covid-19 in the Palmetto State involved citizens 61 years of age or older. Also, nearly two-thirds of all deaths “with” Covid-19 – 65.8 percent – involved citizens 71 years of age or older.
What do I mean by “with” Covid-19? Well, an estimated 64.8 percent of Covid-19 deaths in the Palmetto State involved one or more comorbidities, according to the latest SCDHEC data.
Stay tuned … my news outlet plans on tracking this data very closely over the weeks and months to come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Boston Red Sox lid pictured above).
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