After months of inquiries from WBRZ, state releases breakthrough case percentages for vaccines
BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Health has released data held secret for months about which coronavirus vaccines produced the most breakthrough cases.
The data was released by LDH Friday after a series of requests from the WBRZ Investigative Unit, which had been asking for specific breakthrough case information since the spring. At first, the state suggested breakthrough case details – specifically, about the number of breakthrough cases tied to each of the three vaccines given to people in Louisiana – was shielded from public view by an AIDS-era health law that allowed health data to be kept secret.
Friday, though, the state produced percentages of breakthrough cases for each of the vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
The health department said the data was sensitive and there was a concern of making it public without context, writing to WBRZ in a statement, “[the data provided after WBRZ’s inquiries] has a very unique set of challenges.”
WBRZ made an editorial decision to publish the entire statement from the health department followed by the breakdown of breakthrough cases for each vaccine.
LDH said in a statement: “The Louisiana Department of Health tracks raw data concerning which brands of vaccines were used in cases of breakthrough infections that lead to hospitalizations and death. However, this data alone cannot be interpreted as an indication of one vaccine’s effectiveness over another. In clinical trials, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had very similar levels of safety and effectiveness in trial participants, and the vaccines have continued to prove very effective in preventing hospitalizations and death for the nearly 2 million vaccinated Louisianans who have gotten the shot.
Additionally, the number of people who received each type of vaccine is not equal, making it difficult to draw conclusions from breakthrough percentages. These vaccines were also released at different points in time, when different groups of people were eligible to receive them. For example, most health care workers who were vaccinated in the very first eligibility group received Pfizer. Most nursing home residents received Moderna. By the time J&J was authorized and available, many individuals of higher risk had already been vaccinated. These factors further cloud any conclusions one can draw from these numbers.”
Of the 422 people hospitalized in Baton Rouge hospitals Friday, 59 were fully vaccinated.
Data provided by the state Friday is state-wide data of people who were hospitalized or have died from coronavirus after being fully vaccinated.
The state released only percentages and not a number of vaccinations. The percentages are calculated from the total number of vaccinated people who have been hospitalized or died; A lower percentage of breakthrough cases can’t be assumed a vaccine is more effective than another.
LDH reiterated that in its statement: “The number of people who received each type of vaccine is not equal… [so many factors in the data] further cloud any conclusions one can draw from these numbers.”
Among fully vaccinated people who suffered breakthrough infections with severe health outcomes such as hospitalization or death, 41% received Moderna; 52% received Pfizer and 6% received Johnson and Johnson.
Between July 22 and July 28, 10% of new cases that week were breakthrough cases; In that same period, 16% of deaths were people who had been vaccinated.
As of Friday, more than 1.5 million people were fully vaccinated in Louisiana.
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