Summit Health Board considers the vaccinated and the unvaccinated
Dr. Bondurant told the Health Board that in the last three or four months, the county has seen an increase in break-through cases. Those are fully vaccinated people who get infected.
The same trend is appearing around the country.
But he said the county has done well handling the impacts of break-throughs. He said out of 493 cases reported in October, 117 were break-throughs. Only one of those cases required hospitalization.
Further, he said that out of all the full vaccinations the county has administered, break-through cases amount to 1.17 percent.
The county has reported 18 deaths since the pandemic began. Dr. Bondurant said the county suspects a 19th will be reported later in the week. The person was fully vaccinated, in the 50 to 64 age group, but was immuno-compromised.
Dr. Bondurant said the increase in break-through cases is in part due to the virus changing, and in part because of the waning effectiveness of the vaccines, requiring a booster shot.
“I think that we’ve learned that the estimates of how transmissible the Delta variant is, especially upon the initial exposure. It can be sometimes up to 200 percent more transmissible. And then you look at waning anti-body counts in individuals that may have been vaccinated 8 months or so ago. I think we’re starting to see that increase. But again, this isn’t intended—it’s not going to stop cases. And that’s what we need to be very clear about, is that we’re going to see cases, we’re going to have hills and valleys. The idea is that we shorten the hills and extend the valleys. And so at this point in the response, we get boosters out like we’re doing. We get vaccines into the 5-to-11-year-old population. And we continue to monitor what our hospitalizations look like for Summit County residents, cause that’s what we can control.”
Members of the health board mentioned the large crowd that turned out Sunday for Park City’s Halloween on Main. Bondurant said the county is dealing with some unmanageable social factors.
“I watch major sporting events on the weekend and don’t see masks on any of the individuals. Yet public health is being asked to manage this somehow when the rest of the world has moved on.”
Bondurant said the most dramatic chart he had for the health board compared seven-day case rates for the unvaccinated in Summit County vs. vaccinated residents.
The unvaccinated graph in black showed jagged increases and decreases. Dr. Bondurant said the unvaccinated have a five times greater risk of testing positive; a nine times greater risk of being hospitalized; and nearly a nine times greater risk of death.
On Bondurant’s chart, the vaccinated graph in blue was virtually flat by comparison.
However, he said it shows that COVID is here to stay.
“There is going to be background numbers of COVID-19 in our community for a very long time. When we talk about returning to the new normal, the new normal is not COVID-free, no cases whatsoever. This is going to be around. There’s vaccines available, there’s also considerations of medications, reactive medications that people can take should they become infected, to help lighten the burden. We can expect that blue line, the blue dots on the bottom, to continue in that fashion among those that are vaccinated. That is what the background, the endemic levels of COVID-19 should look like in a community world-wide moving forward.”
He said arguments have been made that patients who went through a bout with COVID have protection, due to natural immunity - but there are also serious risks involved in getting that protection.
“But with boosters, with more people becoming vaccinated, with natural immunity continuing to support what we’re doing. I’m not saying that natural immunity should not be counted because it absolutely should. But I’m saying for those individuals that have not had a natural exposure, that have not gained their anti-bodies naturally, the risk/benefit ratio of gaining your anti-bodies naturally is not a good one, especially when you’re talking about nine times higher likelihood of dying from COVID. For those that have had a COVID exposure naturally, some have fared fairly well, others have not, and would say that they wouldn’t wish that upon their worst enemy.”
Summit County Health Director Phil Bondurant.