Fact check: Are unvaccinated people 4X more likely than the fully vaccinated to catch COVID?

COVID-19 Vaccine

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We have plenty of numbers to reinforce what experts have been saying for months: That while the COVID-19 vaccines don’t completely eliminate the chances you’ll get sick, they drastically lower that risk.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen earlier this week brought up a new one.

THE CLAIM: Cohen said state data show “unvaccinated people are more than four times — that’s 400 percent — more likely to get COVID-19 than people who are fully vaccinated.”

THE FACTS: That number hinges on the case rate — and in order to figure it out, you need to know a few numbers first.

NCDHHS so far has released two counts of breakthrough cases, or the number of cases reported in fully vaccinated people.

Roughly 7,300 of them between Jan. 1 and July 22, and roughly 16,000 of them between Jan. 1 and Aug. 5. Subtracting them tells us there were about 8,700 cases between July 22 and Aug. 5.

The total number of new cases reported between those two dates was 36,700, according to the daily updates from DHHS. Taking out the 8,700 leaves 28,000 cases among those not fully vaccinated.

So we have our separate counts of cases among vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Now we need to know how big those groups were at the time.

NCDHHS says there were 4.9 million fully vaccinated people as of Aug. 5, leaving 5.5 million who were not.

Then, we divide the number of cases for each group by the total number of people in those groups, then multiply that by 10,000 to get the per capita case rate.

That rate for unvaccinated people is 66 cases per 10,000 people, compared to 18 cases per 10,000 people for fully vaccinated people — or, after some rounding, four times larger for the unvaccinated than the vaccinated.

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Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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