Only about 6 percent of North Carolina's COVID-19 cases are breakthrough cases

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The vast majority of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in North Carolina are among the unvaccinated, but since May, about six percent of cases have been in people who were already fully vaccinated against the virus, according to public health officials.

Researchers are placing part of the blame for these breakthrough cases, in part, on the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

"The idea is not that you could never potentially come into contact with the virus and become infected with it," said Dr. Tony Moody, physician scientist with Duke's Human Vaccine Institute. "The point is, is that if you do get infected with it, you just don't have any disease or symptoms. You can still potentially transmit, you can still pass the virus onto somebody else, but you're not going to get sick from it. And that's really what we want from a vaccine."

Across the state, 60 percent of adults now have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which Moody said is designed to keep people from getting severely ill and dying from the disease.

"I would encourage people to get the vaccine because it could potentially prevent them from having a catastrophic problem," he said. "I mean, if they get the vaccine and they have a little bit of a cold or if they have to miss a day or two of work, that is far better than getting the disease and having to spend a month in the ICU."

Wake County on Wednesday said nearly all the new cases of COVID-19 in county have been in people who are not fully vaccinated.

NCDHHS Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the same goes for the state.

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced he will let his executive order expire at the end of the month, bringing an end to the statewide mask mandate.

Moody said, with the recent spike in cases, he's concerned another wave of the virus is coming. He expects the return to mask mandates and social distancing this fall, which will coincide with the typical seasonal spike in respiratory illness.

"Everybody -- and me included -- would love for this thing to be over," said Moody. "I don't think we're there yet."
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