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Expand chart
Data: CDC and state Covid dashboards via NBC. Dani Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, around 125,000 people have tested positive for breakthrough infections and 0.001% have died, according to state data compiled from state dashboards by NBC and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.

  • The numbers do not account for asymptomatic cases in the vaccinated or those who did not get tested. The CDC only tracks cases of those hospitalized or deaths.
  • NBC notes that the total number of breakthrough cases is likely higher since nine states did not have any information while 11 states, like Florida, did not provide death and hospitalization totals.
  • "[V]accination is the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death," the CDC noted in a recent report.
  • Leaked CDC presentation slides showed that unpublished research indicated that the Delta variant causes more severe illness in unvaccinated people and spreads as easily as chickenpox.

By the numbers: Only 0.004% of those vaccinated that were later infected have been hospitalized from the virus and .001% have died, per the CDC.

The big picture: More than half of the entire American population are not yet fully vaccinated, CDC data shows. Nationwide, the number of cases has been increasing since around late June.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that the CDC data on breakthrough cases represents those that resulted in hospitalization or death, not all breakthrough cases.

It also has been updated, and the headline has been corrected, to show that an estimated 125,000 people have tested positive for breakthrough infections, not that the number represents all infections. That number does not include asymptomatic cases in the vaccinated or those who did not get tested.

Go deeper

19 hours ago - Health

More virus, more risk, more social distancing

Expand chart
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

When the Delta variant caused coronavirus infections to spike over the summer, Americans began thinking of COVID as a larger risk and resumed social distancing.

Why it matters: Life won't look normal until there's much less virus around — even if the majority of the population is vaccinated — as millions of people will voluntarily try to avoid it.

Go deeper: America's mismatched COVID fears

19 hours ago - Health

A second flu

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Whatever living with the virus looks like, Delta-level surges aren't considered to be sustainable for the public or the hospitals that will treat the seriously infected.

Why it matters: A major determinant of how seriously we'll take the coronavirus in the future is how many hospitalizations and deaths it's causing — and whether our health system can handle the load.

19 hours ago - Health

We're the architects of our own COVID destiny

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

We're almost certainly going to have to live with the coronavirus, in some form, for the foreseeable future. But what that means will be shaped in large part by what we do now.

Why it matters: More than half of the world — and a substantial portion of Americans — remains unvaccinated. Getting these rates up could mean the difference between the virus becoming a back-burner nuisance, or something that continues to define our lives for years to come.