Is Jen Psaki Vaccinated? How Common Breakthrough Cases Are as Press Secretary Tests Positive

White House Press Secretary Jan Psaki announced on Sunday that she had tested positive for COVID despite being fully vaccinated. The statement came just days after Psaki's last meeting with President Joe Biden, during which she said she wore a mask and maintained a six-foot distance.

Psaki catching the virus and the death of Colin Powell last month as a result of complications arising from a breakthrough COVID infection, have resulted in an increase in Google users searching for information on breakthrough infections.

Such infections are defined as cases of COVID in people who have been fully vaccinated. They happen because no vaccine, or medical intervention in general, is ever 100 percent effective.

"The better COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNAs, are, in fact, pretty good at protecting against infection, but some breakthroughs are inevitable," John P. Moore, professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, previously told Newsweek. "However, these vaccines are still strongly protecting against serious COVID-19, which is why the overwhelming majority of the hospital-severity infections and deaths in the USA at the moment are in unvaccinated people."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently tracking the number of breakthrough cases in the United States.

In data updated on October 18, 2021, the CDC reported that from over 189 million fully vaccinated people in the U.S. 41,127 patients have been hospitalized or died as a result of breakthrough COVID infections.

That means that of all fully vaccinated people in the U.S., just 0.022 percent have been admitted to hospital or died as a result of a breakthrough COVID infection.

Recent federal data published by the CDC sheds light on how common breakthrough cases of COVID are and how severe these cases can be. The data showed that that unvaccinated people were six times as likely to develop COVID as fully vaccinated people were.

The CDC says that deaths resulting from a breakthrough COVID infection currently number 10,857, while according to The New York Times COVID tracker the total number of COVID fatalities in the U.S. stands at 745,535. This means that deaths arising from COVID breakthrough infections currently account for only under 1.5 percent of total COVID fatalities.

The latest data published by the CDC also showed that unvaccinated American citizens are currently over 11 times more likely to die as a result of COVID infection than vaccinated people were.

The New York Times reported that the data released by the CDC showed that vaccination worked well throughout the summer, even during surges caused by the Delta variant and in response to the relaxation of pandemic restrictions.

Immunity May Be Waning

The paper added that the data also indicates that immunity against the virus could be waning, albeit slowly, for vaccinated Americans. Despite this vaccines are still strongly protecting the vaccinated against severe infection and death.

"The No. 1 take-home message is that these vaccines are still working," Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health epidemiologist Dr. David Dowdy told The New York Times. "If you saw these data for any disease other than Covid, what everyone's eyes would be drawn to is the difference between the unvaccinated and fully vaccinated lines."

In a statement released on Sunday, Psaki, who is not accompanying Biden on his international trip, said she will be working from home for the time being.

She added: "I will plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of the ten-day quarantine following a negative rapid test, which is an additional White House requirement, beyond CDC guidance, taken out of an abundance of caution."

COVID 19 Vaccination
A file photo of a COVID vaccination. Jen Psaki tested postive for COVID after being fully vaccinated, prompting a surge in Google users asking how common breakthrough cases are. solarseven/Getty