A new analysis finds several counties with above-average vaccination rates also have higher COVID case rates, while case rates are falling in counties with below-average vaccination rates.
Statewide data analyzed by the Bay Area News Group found five counties, Los Angeles, San Diego, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco, have both a higher percentage of people who are fully vaccinated than the state average and a higher average daily case rate.
Compare that to these five counties: Modoc, Glenn, Lassen, Del Norte, and San Benito, which have below-average vaccination rates and decreasing case rates.
However, UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Phillip Norris clarifies that the data doesn’t mean the vaccine is not working.
He notes, first, the counties referenced with higher vaccination and case rates are more densely populated.
“If there are a lot of people around you’re more likely to bump into one who has COVID,” Norris explained.
He, like other infectious disease experts, warns that vaccinated people may be unknowingly spreading the virus.
Julie: A lot of people think if they’re vaccinated, they can’t transmit. Is that true?
Phillip: So, originally we thought that might be true.
But he says that’s no longer the case, thanks to the Delta variant.
He points to preliminary data from China that indicates the viral load in the nose from the Delta variant may be 1,000 times higher than previous variants.
“If that’s the case, even a little bit in somebody who’s vaccinated could be a lot,” he explains.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said recent studies had shown that those vaccinated individuals who do become infected with COVID have just as much viral load as the unvaccinated, making it possible for them to spread the virus to others.