The Yankees Outbreak Is a Case Study in Successful Vaccines

Nine fully vaccinated members of the New York Yankees have tested positive for coronavirus in the past week that have included three coaches, five staffers, and one shortstop. They all are part of the traveling team and personnel who are on the road, in all about 50 to 60 people.

Of the nine cases, at least seven showed no symptoms. Only one, third-base coach Phil Nevins, had any symptoms. It may be determined that Nevins was the only case of all the vaccinated members who built up enough viral load to transmit the virus to the others, while all of the others fought it off before producing any symptoms or transmitting it to others.

Is that considered a “failure” of the vaccine?

Experts say this is exactly how the vaccine is designed to work. Although you may be officially infected, the vaccine virtually eliminates the risk of severe disease and death.

 Cases that would have been hospitalizations become colds, and symptomatic cases become asymptomatic. Most infections are avoided entirely. The vaccine works like a strong head wind from the outfield, turning homers into doubles and doubles into harmless fly outs. These effects may be the result of a more powerful immune response in vaccinated individuals, which is also thought to reduce viral loads and thus further spread of the virus.

Similar earlier outbreaks in sports among unvaccinated teams with much higher levels of preventative protocol showed 30-40% of a traveling team tested positive. Teams had strict mask requirements and limited indoor time together.

Without vaccines, the numbers suggest at least 40% of the Yankees team would have been infected. With only nine infected, vaccination prevented about 63% from being infected — which is roughly the efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that most of the Yankees received. There was regular testing and many were without masks. The vaccine performed as expected.

It is likely the vaccine worked as expected on the Yankees: It prevented many more cases, only allowed the virus to spread from one person and reduced disease severity. This is what is needed to return us to normal. Willie Mays never played finer defense.

This opinion piece was shared at the Washington Post.

Supporting source at NBC.

You can listen to how Dr. Fauci explains breakthrough infections below.