• 402 fully vaccinated White Americans in Oregon died of COVID-19
  • At least 314 of the total number of people who died of COVID-19 received the Pfizer vaccine
  • Oregon has detected three cases of the Omicron variant in Washington and Multnomah counties

More than 620 fully vaccinated residents in Oregon have died of COVID-19, many of whom are White Americans, according to state data.

As of Thursday, health officials in Oregon reported a total of 622 breakthrough COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the total number of deaths among the fully vaccinated, at least 64% or 402 were White Americans.

In comparison, only 13 Black people, 14 Asians, 1 7 American Indian or Alaska Native and 1 Pacific Islander who were vaccinated against COVID-19 died of the virus, data from the Oregon Health Authority showed.

Oregon also recorded a total of 49,250 breakthrough COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, with the median age being 47 years old. At least 3.4% were residents of care facilities or senior living communities and 23.4% were people aged 65 and older.

Of the people who died of COVID-19, 314 received the Pfizer vaccine, 167 got the Moderna shot and 84 were administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But despite the rising number of breakthrough deaths, experts still recommend getting vaccinated, adding that the shots still give ample protection against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

The latest vaccine breakthrough data comes as Oregon health officials prepare for a potential surge of COVID-19 cases after discovering three cases of the highly mutated Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) in the state.

The three cases were found in Washington and Multnomah counties. County health officials have since established communication with the three patients.

“We have a little time, but not a lot and that's unfortunate,” Peter Graven, the lead analyst for Oregon Health & Science University, told KATU. “Boosters we have do look like they will protect against infection and hospitalization really well.”

Little is known about the B.1.1.529 variant, which was first detected in South Africa in November. However, a team of researchers at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Medicine found that the Omicron variant replicates 70 times faster in human airways than the Delta strain but reproduces 10 times slower in the lungs.

The study, published this week, is still under peer review.

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