So far, according to the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control (SCDHEC) as of August 30, there have been 6,808 “breakthrough” cases reported in the state with 557 requiring hospitalization and 130 deaths of breakthrough patients.
In public health, a “breakthrough case” is when a fully vaccinated person later gets the disease they were vaccinated for. According to DHEC, no vaccine provides 100 percent protection against infection, so breakthrough cases are not new, and not unique, to COVID-19. There have been numerous reports of COVID-19 breakthrough cases in South Carolina and throughout the U.S. and DHEC officials are saying this is not unexpected.
Because the vaccines require about two weeks to reach their maximum effectiveness, a person is not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after they completed the recommended number of doses for the vaccine they received. Therefore, for public health surveillance purposes, a case of COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough is defined as someone who tests positive (PCR or antigen) for COVID-19 14 days or more after the person completed all recommended doses of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. A person who tests positive for COVID-19 between their first and second doses of two-dose vaccines, or a person who tests positive before the two-week period after their final dose, is not considered a breakthrough case.
Since February 2021, DHEC has been receiving reports of COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases and transmitting those reports to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, as of May 1, 2021, the CDC transitioned from monitoring all vaccine breakthrough cases to focus on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause. Breakthrough cases are investigated as part of the CDC’s ongoing research to assess how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions.
New cases numbers also continue to increase on a day by day basis.