The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has identified 168 Oregonians that have tested positive for the virus despite being fully vaccinated, also known as a vaccine breakthrough case.
Vaccine breakthrough is defined as an instance when a person tested positive for COVID-19 at least two weeks after their final COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases and three reported deaths are based on data through April 2, out of 700,000 fully vaccinated people. The breakthrough cases identified make up about .02% of the vaccinated population. As of Thursday, more than 824,000 people have been fully vaccinated against the virus in Oregon.
The new coronavirus variant that surfaced in Oregon has the same B.1.1.7 backbone, but also a mutation – E484K, or “Eek” – seen in variants of the virus circulating in South Africa, Brazil and New York City.
Lab studies and clinical trials in South Africa indicate that the Eek mutation renders the current vaccines less effective by blunting the body’s immune response. The vaccines still work, but the findings are worrying enough that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have begun testing new versions of their vaccines designed to defeat the variant found in South Africa.
The B117 variant with Eek also has emerged in Britain, designated as a “variant of concern” by scientists. But the virus identified in Oregon seems to have evolved independently, Prof O’Roak said. He and his colleagues found the variant among coronavirus samples collected by the Oregon State Public Health Lab across the state, including some from an outbreak in a health care setting.
Since December, wildlife biologists with USDA Wildlife Services, under the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) direction, have captured and tested more than a dozen animals, including ten opossums, three cats, two skunks, and three mink. All the animals tested negative except for two mink.
On December 22, NVSL confirmed a mink (captured December 13) trapped near the farm tested positive for low levels of SARS-CoV-2. Biologists caught two additional escaped mink within 75 yards of the affected farm between December 23 and 24. On January 11, NVSL confirmed one of the captured minks tested positive for low levels of SARS-Co-V2. Biologists have not caught any additional mink to date.
A mink caught outside a farm in Oregon in mid-December has tested positive for low-levels of the coronavirus.
State officials believe the mink escaped from a small farm that was already under quarantine because of a coronavirus outbreak among mink and humans.
“Mink are related to a range of other species, including badgers, martens, fishers, weasels, otters, and wolverines,” said Jonathan Evans, the center’s environmental health legal director. “So we know that escaped mink or mink factory farms themselves can pose disease risks for wild animals.”
An Oregon mink farm has reported an outbreak of COVID-19 among animals and workers.
Oregon Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Andrea Cantu-Schomus declined to say which county the farm is in or how many workers have tested positive, citing federal health privacy rules. The farm has about 12,000 animals, she said.
Eight of Oregon’s 11 mink farms are in Marion County