Breakthrough Infections, Explained

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For the past couple of weeks, some Americans have reported a curious phenomenon: They have caught the coronavirus despite being vaccinated.

The Delta variant and the end of lockdowns in the United States appear to have increased instances of these so-called breakthrough infections.

Vaccines are still doing their job by protecting against serious illness and hospitalization, but the frequency of such cases has surprised experts.

How do breakthrough infections happen, and what risks do they pose?

On today’s episode

Apoorva Mandavilli, a science and global health reporter for The New York Times.

Background reading

Breakthrough infections are still relatively uncommon, experts said, and those that cause serious illness, hospitalization or death even more so.

While being fully inoculated protects against serious illness and hospitalization from Covid-19, no vaccine offers 100 percent protection, and vaccinated people may need to take a few more precautions. Here’s what you need to know.

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Transcripts of each episode are available by the next workday. You can find them at the top of the page.

Apoorva Mandavilli contributed reporting.

The Daily is made by Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Wendy Dorr, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Neena Pathak, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Kaitlin Roberts, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Soraya Shockley, Corey Schreppel, Anita Badejo and Rob Szypko.

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