Are COVID-19 breakthrough cases to blame for high infection rates?

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(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota is now having one of the worst rates of new COVID-19 cases in the country.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported over 3,000 new positive tests Wednesday.

Breakthrough infections, or someone who is infected with COVID-19 more than two weeks after they have completed their two-dose series or one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, appear to be becoming more common. But, health experts are saying they are not to blame.

"Although there are some breakthrough infections, the rate of infections in the vaccinated individuals compared to those that are unvaccinated is substantially, substantially lower," Dr. Abinash Virk, Infectious Disease Specialist at Mayo Clinic, said.

Dr. Virk says studies have shown that booster shots have increased the antibody response significantly after the third dose, even more than the second dose.

Virk says the rate of infection in those unvaccinated is anywhere from 13 to 15 times higher than in vaccinated individuals.

And for those who have had COVID-19 who got vaccinated, their risk is five times lower for reinfection compared to those people who had COVID-19 and did not receive a vaccine.

As we continue to vaccinate more people, the percent increases in those that will have a breakthrough infection because more people are vaccinated.

"So it looks like ‘Oh my gosh, we have you know 100 people that got infected and you know 60 percent were vaccinated,’ it’s because your pool is continuing to increase and so it looks like your rate of breakthrough infections is increasing. The percent shifts from the unvaccinated to the vaccinated," Virk said.

Overall, breakthrough cases are still extremely low with the rate of infection in Minnesota being about 1.8 percent.

Mayo Clinic has provided an interactive COVID-19 map that shows a rolling average of daily cases as well as a forecast of COVID-19 trends where you can look ahead by state and county. This is helpful if you plan to travel for Thanksgiving.