By mid-April, Minnesota was tracking a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations. The growth in cases is occurring even as the state reports that half of eligible adults has already received the COVID vaccine.
Much of the surge has been driven by kids returning to school and youth sports—and by new COVID variants. The UK, also called the B-One-One-Seven, variant is now the dominant strain in the state. Data suggests that it is 70 to 100 percent more infectious and at least 50 to 60 percent more likely to cause severe disease.
On top of that, the CDC has reported 74 deaths in fully vaccinated people.
Minnesota has recorded over 560 cases of breakthrough COVID. This refers to people who are at least two weeks out from their final vaccine dose but who test positive for COVID. Of those cases, 66 needed hospitalization and six died.
Why is this happening? Health experts point to the variants.
Vaccines aren’t perfect. And they can’t anticipate how a virus will evolve. These changes in the virus create the variants. Pfizer has already said that a booster shot will likely be necessary within 12 months of vaccination. The same will probably hold true with the other COVID vaccines.
Still, a recent Mayo Clinic study suggests that the vaccine rollout is paying off. Researchers say that without these shots, Minnesota would have twice the number of cases in ICU right now than at the peak last December.