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Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

Reps. request information on COVID-19 breakthrough infections

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U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader; Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader; and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader, have asked information on breakthrough cases of COVID-19.

In a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday, the Congress members asked for more information regarding the CDC’s decision not to collect data on breakthrough cases on Americans unless the cases resulted in hospitalization or death.

“Because the CDC decided to not collect information about all breakthrough infections in the U.S., we do not have a full understanding of the total number and characteristics of all the breakthrough infections that are occurring across the U.S., including how many breakthrough cases have occurred; where, geographically, the breakthrough infections are occurring; which variants are causing the breakthrough infections; which vaccine the individuals who are experiencing breakthrough cases received, when the individuals were vaccinated; who may be more susceptible to breakthrough infections; what symptoms these individuals are experiencing, if any; how many asymptomatic cases are occurring; and whether these individuals are experiencing long-COVID symptoms after they recover,” the Congress members said in the Sept. 28 letter. “These are all critical pieces of information that would help us better understand how the pandemic is evolving in the U.S. and how we can respond more effectively.”

According to the letter, the CDC transitioned from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases to focusing on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause on May 1, 2021. The representatives said they felt the decision has led the agency to make decisions based on limited or unreliable data.

Providing Congress and other decision makers with complete data on breakthrough infections is essential in responding to the pandemic, the lawmakers said, especially at the Delta variant continues to spread.

“We are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and national, state, local, and tribal leaders as well as vaccine developers are having to make decisions about how best to protect Americans against COVID-19,” the letter said. “In addition, the threat that COVID-19 poses to our nation continues to evolve. For example, the situation we were facing in April is very different than the situation we are currently facing due to the Delta variant. Providing decision-makers with better, more complete data and information on breakthrough infections will be essential as they continue to respond to this evolving pandemic.”

The Congress members requested a briefing from the CDC on the issue by Oct. 12.