In an opinion piece for The Vaccine Reaction earlier this year titled “Vaccinated Americans Count Their Blessings Despite Getting COVID,” I cited several members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who had been fully vaccinated but still tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, joining the growing number of vaccinated people in the United States being counted as COVID-19 “breakthrough cases.” Despite their vaccination status, all of the legislators expressed gratitude for the shots they received because they assumed that without them their COVID symptoms would have been much worse.1
The Senators included Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Angus King of Maine and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. The Representatives included Vern Buchanan of Florida, Joseph Morelle of New York and Darren Soto of Florida. Rather than acknowledging that the shots failed to prevent them from becoming infected with the virus, all of the legislators gave credit to the shots for their mild symptoms. Each of them related some version of the phrase, “It would’ve been worse had I not gotten the shot.”1
During the past week, there has been another round of high-profile politicians who acknowledged they tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 despite being fully vaccinated and boosted. On Dec. 19, 2021, fully vaccinated and boosted Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado announced they had come down with breakthrough coronavirus infections. On Dec. 20, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland said he had tested positive. On Dec. 21, Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota said he was positive for the virus too, as did Rep. Barbara Lee of California.2 3 4 5 6
Each of these members of Congress and governors said that their COVID symptoms were “mild” and that they seemed to be recovering just fine. Each of them also followed with a set of comments that have now come to sound very familiar.
After revealing the result of his SARS-Cov-2 test, Sen. Booker said:
My symptoms are relatively mild. I’m beyond grateful to have received two doses of vaccine and, more recently, a booster. I’m certain that without them I would be doing much worse.5
Sen. Warren tweeted:
Rep. Crow tweeted:
I’m thankful to be fully vaccinated and boosted and experiencing only mild symptoms (the vaccine is safe and effective).5
Gov. Hogan’s tweet was more nuanced. He wrote:
This morning, as part of my regular testing routine, I received a positive rapid test for COVID-19. I have been vaccinated and boosted, and I am feeling fine at the moment. …As the Omicron variant becomes dominant, I want to urge you to get vaccinated or get your booster shot as soon as possible.3
Gov. Walz tweeted:
Thankfully, my son has mild symptoms and Gwen and I have no symptoms. My son is vaccinated, and Gwen and I are vaccinated and have our booster shots, and I am confident that these vaccines are protecting my family and me from serious illness.5
Rep. Lee said:
Fortunately, I have only mild cold-like symptoms, but I know it could have been much worse had I not been vaccinated and boosted.6
Other fully vaccinated and boosted members of Congress who have also recently tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 include House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Rep. Antonio Delgado of New York and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois.7
Many Unvaccinated People Who Test Positive for SARS-CoV-2 are Asymptomatic or Have Only Mild Symptoms
It’s good that, in each of these “breakthrough cases” involving fully vaccinated and boosted individuals, the infected person did not experience serious health problems. But it must be said that there also many cases of unvaccinated and unboosted people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and also experienced only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
In fact, one study conducted last year, before the experimental COVID shots were widely available to the public, found that 81 percent of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 were asymptomatic. Another study published in January 2021 estimated that about 30 percent of people who got infected with coronavirus would never develop COVID symptoms.8 9 10
Meta-Analysis Finds More Than 35 Percent of SARS-CoV-2 Cases are Asymptomatic, Regardless of Vaccination Status
A more recent study conducted by U.S. medical researchers and published in the journal PNAS on Aug. 24, 2021 estimated that 35.1 percent of SARS-CoV-2 infections never advance to a symptomatic stage. That study came to its conclusion based on a review of more than 350 studies—based on data from Jan. 1, 2020 through Apr. 2, 2021—that “reported silent infections at the time of testing, whether presymptomatic or asymptomatic.”11
This suggests that a significant number of people who become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus develop no COVID symptoms or only mild symptoms, regardless of their vaccination status… which leads to the question: “Did the vaccinated/boosted politicians who contracted SARS-CoV-2 have only mild symptoms because of the shots they received or simply because they were part of this fortunate segment of the population?”
Could the reason be that these individuals are generally healthy and, consequently, less susceptible to becoming ill with COVID or other diseases? Is it as clear-cut as, “They were vaccinated and thus they were spared from serious illness or death”? Or are there other factors that may have contributed to their ability to stave off a worse outcome?
Some Vaccinated, Boosted People Who Get COVID Become Seriously Ill and Die
How do you explain the reality that many unvaccinated/unboosted people who contract SARS-CoV-2 also experience either no symptoms or only mild ones? Furthermore, how do you explain that there are also people who have been fully vaccinated and have developed serious COVID symptoms and had to be hospitalized, and even died?12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
I noted in my article “Vaccinated Americans Count Their Blessings Despite Getting COVID that the phrase “It would’ve been worse had I not gotten the shot” reminds me of what many people who get vaccinated for influenza each year and still catch it say. Again, the question: “How do they know?”1
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1 Cáceres M. Vaccinated Americans Count Their Blessings Despite Getting COVID. The Vaccine Reaction Sept. 19, 2021.
2 Clary G. 3 Democratic lawmakers announce positive Covid-19 tests. CNN Dec. 20, 2021.
3 Duster C, Sgueglia K. Larry Hogan, Maryland governor, tests positive for Covid-19. CNN Dec. 20, 2021.
4 Oshin O. Minnesota governor announces positive COVID-19 test. The Hill Dec. 21, 2021.
5 Rai S. Politicians and celebrities who have tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the holidays. The Hill Dec. 20, 2021.
6 McCaskill ND. Rep. Barbara Lee tests positive for COVID-19. Los Angeles Times Dec. 21, 2021.
7 Satlin A. Jim Clyburn tests positive for Covid after seeing Biden last week. NBC News Dec. 22, 2021.
8 Ing AJ, Cocks C, Green JP. COVID-19: in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton. Thorax 2020; 75: 693–694.
9 Johansson MA, Quandelacy TM, Kada S, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Transmission From People Without COVID-19 Symptoms.
10 Taylor Chavoustie C. What does asymptomatic COVID-19 mean? Medical News Today Sept. 28, 2021.
11 Sah P, Fitzpatrick MC, Zimmer CF, Abdollahi E, Juden-Kelly L, Moghadas SM, Singer BH, Galvani AP. Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PNAS Aug. 24, 2021; 118(34): e2109229118.
12 Cox I. Report: Hundreds of Fully Vaccinated Oregon Residents Die of COVID-19. The Western Journal Dec. 22, 2021.
13 Feehan K. Comedian Jethro dies aged 73 from Covid despite having had two jabs and a booster two years after he battled cancer. Daily Mail Dec. 15, 2021.
14 Loiaconi S. More vaccinated people are dying of COVID-19. Here’s what that means. NBC Montana Oct. 28, 2021.
15 Metro US. Israeli hospital reports first death of patient with Omicron variant. Metro Dec. 21, 2021.
16Myers M. One fully vaccinated service member has died of COVID-19 complications. Military Times Dec. 22, 2021.15 WPB
17 Ong D. 85 Fully Vaccinated Massachusetts Residents Die Of COVID-19 In Past Week. International Business Times Dec. 21, 2021
18 WPBF Staff. Fully vaccinated man dies from COVID-19 after month in hospital. WHSV 3 Oct. 12, 2021.
19 Young L. Some fully vaccinated people have died of COVID-19. What you need to know. Global News Oct. 20, 2021.