More people vaccinated means more breakthrough cases


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – It’s the second week of class for U of I students. In the last week, nearly 200 undergrads tested positive for the coronavirus. Many of those cases are breakthrough cases.

More than 80% of students and staff on campus are vaccinated. Here is the breakdown of each group who is vaccinated:

  • Undergraduate students: 90%
  • Graduate students: 91%
  • Faculty: 83%
  • Academic professionals: 89%
  • Civil service: 67%

Officials for the school tell me that’s why there are more breakthrough cases. Breakthrough cases happen when someone fully vaccinated still tests positive.

The school gave me a breakdown of the breakthrough cases over the past seven days.

  • Undergraduate unvaccinated: 32
  • Undergraduate vaccinated: 183
  • Graduate unvaccinated: 4
  • Graduate vaccinated: 17
  • Staff (includes faculty, staff and AP) unvaccinated: 7
  • Staff (includes faculty, staff and AP) vaccinated:14

So, out of 257 positive cases, 214 are vaccinated.

Becky Smith is an associate professor of epidemiology at the U of I. She said, since more people are vaccinated, you will see more breakthrough cases.

“If we consider COVID-19 to be a fire, a massive fire, and we’re all the wood that the fire is trying to burn up, vaccination is like dumping a bucket of water on that wood,” Smith said. “So, it’s less likely to catch fire, but if you surround that wood with dry kindling, which is the unvaccinated, and the fire gets hot enough, even the wet wood is going to burn.”

Smith said the vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing the spread, but it helps make sure cases are less severe.

U of I officials said they continue to adjust their approach and monitor numbers. They said when they identify a group where the spread is high, they have everyone in the group, regardless of vaccination status, test every other day.

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