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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  • Leaked CDC presentation slides showed that unpublished research indicated that the Delta variant causes more severe illness in unvaccinated people and spreads as easily as chickenpox.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

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Louisiana officials find "probable" Omicron case in cruise ship COVID outbreak — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy.
  4. World: U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Study: Over 25,000 tons of COVID-related plastic waste pollutes oceans

Plastic debris and face masks on a beach in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Photo: Andrey Nekrasov/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Over 25,000 tons of pandemic-related plastic waste pollute the global ocean, according to a study published in the journal PNAS on Monday.

Why it matters: Plastic waste poses a major threat to marine life and ecosystems. COVID-19 only increased the demand for single-use plastic, "intensifying pressure on this already out-of-control problem," the researchers write.

Updated Nov 8, 2021 - World

In photos: U.S. reopens borders to vaccinated travelers

Yerin Hong gets a hug from her boyfriend, Soomin Kim, after she arrived on a flight from Germany at O'Hare International Airport on Nov. 8. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The U.S. reopened its land and air borders Monday for nonessential travel to visitors from over 30 countries who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: Government officials and business leaders had decried the economic impact of the travel ban on border communities in Canada and Mexico, which had been in place since March 2020. The restrictions also separated families across the world.