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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Expand chart
Data: CDPHE; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

The number of positive COVID-19 cases among vaccinated people continues to hit new highs in Colorado, driven by the proliferation of the Delta variant.

Threat level: The risk varies depending on age and the type of vaccine received, Colorado public health officials said Wednesday.

  • The vaccinated population between ages 30 and 39 is disproportionately represented among breakthrough cases, followed by the 40–49 and 20–29 age groups.
  • Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also account for a larger number of the breakthrough cases compared with Pfizer and Moderna.

Why it matters: The insights are evident in data posted publicly by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for the first time Wednesday.

  • The figures are the most comprehensive look at COVID breakthrough cases among vaccinated people across the state, and the publication comes after weeks of questions.

The big picture: Unvaccinated people in Colorado continue to drive the pandemic, state public health officials say.

  • A vaccinated person is 3.4 times less likely to contract the coronavirus and 5.8 times less likely to die from the disease.
  • The latest numbers only go through the week of Aug. 22 because officials say a delay is necessary to verify the data.

Details: The reasons that certain populations are more at risk remain unclear. "We have those same questions you have," state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy told Axios Denver.

The fact that young people make up a larger proportion of the breakthrough cases is likely the result of exposure, whether as workers in the service industry, or because they’re traditionally more risk tolerant and spend more time socializing, Herlihy said.

  • These age groups also possibly received more J&J vaccines, which are less effective than the others available.

The bottom line: The latest data, Herlihy says, provides "clear information about the different level of risk of becoming a COVID-19 case, of being hospitalized or dying of COVID-19 … if you are unvaccinated versus vaccinated."

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Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Biden to get booster shot on camera — Pfizer vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The booster vaccine discussion is far from over.
  2. Health: Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years — U.S. death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities — Chicago has highest case rates in city worker neighborhoods.
  3. Politics: Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home — Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive — Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers.
  4. Education: D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option — More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
15 hours ago - Health

Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years

Expand chart
Data: Annals of Internal Medicine; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The pandemic slashed U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years, with Black and Hispanic Americans losing more than twice as many years per capita compared to white Americans, according to research published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared.

13 hours ago - Health

Johnson & Johnson says booster shot increases efficacy of COVID vaccine

Syringes and a vial of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in French Polynesia on Sept. 8. Photo: Jerome Brouillet/AFP via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said in a press release Tuesday a global study showed that the protection offered by its coronavirus vaccine was strengthened by a booster shot.

Why it matters: While J&J has not formally applied for authorization to offer booster shots to the general public, it said it has shared the results of the study with the Food and Drug Administration and plans to share it with the World Health Organization and other health regulators.

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