Defense Department has had about 2,000 breakthrough Covid cases

The Department of Defense has experienced about 2,000 breakthrough Covid-19 cases among its more than 2 million fully vaccinated personnel, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Cesar Santiago-Santini told CNN in a statement, but it’s unclear how many are a result of the Delta variant.

“Like the civilian sector, we are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, driven by, we believe, the Delta variant. We are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19, regardless of variant type, and we are urging everyone to get vaccinated,” Santiago-Santini said.

The breakthrough cases, which include both asymptomatic and symptomatic occurrences, represent less than 0.1% of immunized individuals in the Defense Department community, Santiago-Santini said.

Only 41 of the breakthrough cases have been confirmed as the Delta variant, but that’s largely a function of the difficulty and the time required to undertake the genome sequencing to test for the variant.

“Similar to the CDC, we are not able to sequence every positive breakthrough,” Santiago-Santini said. “Whole genome sequencing is the laboratory process to analyze the entire genome of an organism. … There are other limitations to sequencing, as well, such as a two to three week time period to process them.”

In mid-July, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that about 70% of US service members had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“That’s encouraging, but there’s more work to be done,” Kirby said. “We continue to be in the mode of encouraging troops to get vaccinated to the maximum degree.”

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