'No,' Biden Administration Won't Give Number of Breakthrough Cases at White House

By Susan Jones | July 23, 2021 | 11:07am EDT
(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that a "fully vaccinated White House official tested positive for COVID," after mingling with infected Texas state lawmakers.

"We know that there will be breakthrough cases," Psaki said on Tuesday, July 20, "But as this instance shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild. The White House is prepared for breakthrough cases with regular testing."

Psaki also admitted there have been other breakthrough cases at the White House, but she couldn't say how many: "I don’t have more details on that. I will see if there’s more we can provide," she told reporters.

Flash forward two days.

A reporter asked Psaki on Thursday, "It's been a couple of days since we talked about the breakthrough case on the campus here and that you acknowledge there were additional breakthrough cases. Can you give us now the number of breakthrough cases that have occurred during the Biden presidency?

Psaki said "no."

"I don't think you can expect that we're going to be providing numbers of breakthrough cases. No," she said.

Psaki noted that some 2,000 people work on the White House campus. "So that means that just statistically speaking, there will be people who are vaccinated individuals who get COVID on the campus."

The reporter followed up: "Really? That's your transparency? To give us a number, not the names, but a number of these cases? You must have that information."

"Well," Psaki responded, I think, one, we're in a very different place than we were several months ago. The vast, vast, vast majority of individuals who are vaccinated who get COVID will have--will be asymptomatic or have mild cases.

"Every individual at this White House has been offered a vaccine, and we have been very clear that we will be transparent with anyone who has had close proximity contact with the president or any of the four principles as deemed by the White House Medical Unit, with all of you. And if they--if they approve having their name released, we've also released their names, but we will protect their privacy.

"That will be our policy moving forward. And we understand and agree that that is in the public interest."

As the Biden administration pushes hard to vaccinate millions more Americans, there is growing concern about breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people.

At a news conference on Thursday, the White House COVID Response Team repeated that breakthrough infections don't mean the vaccines are ineffective:

"So what we're talking about when we talk about infection after vaccination, which is clearly being discussed now in the context of the Delta variant, by no means does that mean that you're dealing with an unsuccessful vaccine," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

"The success of the vaccine is based on the prevention of illness...So even though we are seeing infections after vaccination, referred commonly to as breakthrough infections, the effectiveness against severe disease is still substantial, which is yet again another argument which all of us say, continually, get vaccinated. It offers good protection against disease."

CDC says unvaccinated people now account for 97 percent of hospitalizations and deaths.

As of May 1, 2021, CDC stopped monitoring all vaccine breakthrough cases, focusing instead on "identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases."

According to CDC:

State health departments report vaccine breakthrough cases to CDC. CDC now monitors reported hospitalized or fatal vaccine breakthrough cases for clustering by patient demographics, geographic location, time since vaccination, vaccine type, and SARS-CoV-2 lineage. Reported data include hospitalized or fatal breakthrough cases due to any cause, including causes not related to COVID-19.

To the fullest extent possible, respiratory specimens that test positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA are collected for genomic sequencing to identify the virus lineage that caused the infection.

Some health departments may continue to report all vaccine breakthrough cases to the national database and can continue to submit specimens to CDC for sequencing. However, CDC will focus its monitoring on reported hospitalized and fatal cases.

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