As vaccine rollout continues in Central Texas, so do new questions about efficacy.
“If you have people showing a COVID infection after those two weeks, then that’s typically defined as a breakthrough infection,” said Dr. Rodney Rohde, Professor and Chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science program at Texas State University.
Austin-Travis County health officials reported that out of over 1 million COVID-19 vaccines administered, they have seen 158 COVID-19 cases in people fully vaccinated, also known as breakthrough cases.
Most of those cases were among females.
“30 males, 54 females who received Pfizer who’ve had breakthrough cases. 10 males, 37 females who’ve received modern who’ve had breakthrough of COVID-19, and 9 males and 18 females who received the Johnson and Johnson and had a breakthrough,” said APH officials on Tuesday.
“It’s kind of bizarre because long-term if you look at decades of research on vaccines, women actually tend to do better, they respond better to vaccines,” said Rohde.
Rohde says not enough research is out to really explain why communities across the country may be seeing more women post-vaccination getting COVID-19, but he says one possible explanation could be simply looking at how these vaccines are effective among different demographics to begin with.
“Modern for example is shown to be about 95.5 percent efficacy in men, but only about 93 in women,” he said. “Johnson and Johnson its almost 69 percent men and 64 percent women. And Pfizer is the same way.”
Women could also be reporting symptoms of COVID-19 more often than men or women may be more susceptible to different variants.
Anecdotally, we always say that men are kind of worse at reporting they have an illness or something like that. Women are better,” said Rohde. “Maybe there’s just something biologically different going on for women.”
Still, Rohde says breakthrough cases are more likely to be less severe than getting COVID-9 without having the vaccine and breakthrough cases still remain rare.
“The vaccines are still doing what they’re supposed to be doing, which is reducing severe illness and hopefully eliminating death,” he said. “All of us are still going to recommend you get the vaccine unless you have some serious medical reason not to.”
As of June 1st, the CDC says there's been 3,016 reported breakthrough cases of COVID-19 ending in hospitalization or death, right now the CDC is investigating these more serious cases and whether demographics or other factors may play a role.