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Despite Breakthrough Cases, State Epidemiologist Says Vaccines Are Still Effective

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The latest seven day case average for COVID-19 in Hawaiʻi is 706 cases. Ninety-five percent of active cases are the delta variant.

Thirty-seven COVID-19 related deaths have been reported in the last week. Of the 626 total deaths in Hawaiʻi, only eight were fully vaccinated patients.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble explains why breakthrough cases are occurring in the community.

"The more we have infection circulating around us, the more breakthrough cases we will see," Kemble says. "While we do know that vaccines work, they are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, they don’t prevent every infection from occurring.

"If you have enough infection pressure around you because you’re surrounded by infected people, you will have some of those breakthrough cases.

"Where we tend see more of the hospitalizations are in older people and those with multiple comorbidities. These are people who might land in the hospital after getting the common cold sometimes or other common viruses like influenza. Some of that is to be expected even though it’s unfortunate," Kemble describes.

The state Department of Health does not yet know how Labor Day Weekend will effect case numbers. The data must be observed for a week before drawing any conclusions.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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