July 26, 2022:- To celebrate the notion of open government, in the month of March we have “sunshine week.” March has come and gone. We are in July and, weather notwithstanding, it is most definitely not sunshine week.
As of mid-July the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is no longer publishing the number of COVID-19 breakthrough cases, i.e. people who got the shot and then caught the disease. The number of such cases has been rising steadily. At the beginning of July that number was 617,337, which is 11.4% of the population the State classifies as fully vaccinated, up from 8.4% in February.
Keeping track of the number of reported COVID-19 cases among people who have had the jab helps all of us gauge the efficacy of the products and to make informed choices about whether to keep getting injected with them. But making informed decisions just became harder; the department’s site now states:
Yes, the “data on vaccine breakthrough cases in Massachusetts are no longer being updated.” The department does not say why.
Perhaps the data were becoming just too embarrassing. After all, the No Jab, No Job policy in Massachusetts that forced many State employees out of work rested on the claim that receiving the products would reduce the spread of COVID-19. You may remember Rochelle Walensky assuring us that the data (“real world data,” as she put it) show that “vaccinated people do not carry the virus and don’t get sick.”
One of the facts that undermines that claim is the increasing number of vaccinated people who who do carry the virus and do get sick.
The most recent figures from the Massachusetts Department Health show that of the Massachusetts residents classified as “fully vaccinated” at least 11.4 % have caught COVID-19.
- As of July 2, 2022 there were 5,408,359 fully vaccinated people and there were 617,337 cases in vaccinated people
- 10,121 of those 617,337 cases resulted in hospitalization and 3,213 cases resulted in death based on information reported to date
The department classifies as “fully vaccinated” people who reported testing positive for COVID-19 more than 14 days after receiving their final dose. Below the figures, the department includes this note about undercounting both of cases and hospitalizations:
Identification of cases in vaccinated people relies on matching data between the system of record for cases and vaccinations. The number of cases in vaccinated people may be undercounted due to discrepancies in the names and dates of birth of individuals, resulting in an inability to match records across systems. Hospitalization data is likely also undercounted as identification and reporting of hospitalized cases relies on that information being obtainable by case investigators through patient interview.
This note about undercounting is important, but it leaves out something equally important. It has been clear since soon after the outbreak that a large proportion of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic. Approximately 25-45% of people who are infected with COVID-19 show no symptoms at all, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaking on Good Morning America on June 10, 2020.
For most people who display some symptoms, those symptoms are mild (e.g. sore throat, slight cough, and runny nose) and do not require a visit to a healthcare provider. If a person with COVID-19 does not report the infection to a healthcare provider, nobody enters the case into a healthcare provider’s database, and it does not appear in the department’s figures.
Accordingly, the case count of 617,337 does not include people who are fully vaccinated and then contract COVID-19 but do not report the fact to a healthcare provider. So the number 617,337 (11.4% of the fully vaccinated population) is an undercount.
It is not clear whether the department is now (a) keeping track of the breakthrough cases but keeping the figures to itself or (b) just no longer counting them. Choosing not to publish the data is one thing, but choosing not to even collect it would be something else. It is hard to say which would be worse.
In either case, why is State government keeping these cards so close to the vest rather than tipping its hand? This is not a game.
If the public servants in the Department of Public Health have a legitimate reason for either not collating the data at all or collating it but not publishing it, that reason must be written down somewhere, e.g. a memorandum or at least an email. Using the Public Records Law, I will try to find out the State’s rationale for keeping this important information from the public.
If and when I can drag the relevant documents out into the sunshine, I will post them here.
July 28, 2022:- Today I submitted a public records request to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health asking for the documents that reflect or embody the decision to stop publishing the data on breakthrough infections.
On the subject of breakthrough infections, here is Dr. Deborah Birx, former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, stating:
“I knew these vaccines were not going to protect against infection and I think we overplayed the vaccines.”