Last week, the New York Yankees baseball team was thrown a curveball when a number of vaccinated players tested positive for COVID-19. While the news made headlines, creating concern for those hoping the vaccine would help lead things back to normal, Ana Isabel Bento, an infectious disease ecologist at Indiana University, says the none of the current vaccines are perfect. In fact, she says, breakthrough cases are largely underreported, since many will be asymptomatic and most people won’t get tested unless required to, or they’re experiencing symptoms. It is expected, she says, that if vaccinated individuals become infected, they will most likely be asymptomatic. Although some people who contract COVID-19 may or may not have symptoms, if infected, they can probably still transmit the virus. Likely less problematic if you are vaccinated, but crucial for those who aren’t. Bento says these breakthrough episodes could serve as a ‘sentinel’ of what could be happening in the population at large. Meaning there are likely many more breakthrough infections, but the expectation is that, for the most part, people are less likely to get infected if vaccinated. Moving forward, the chances of breakthrough infections can decrease as more and more people get vaccinated (although breakthroughs will still be expected) and people continue to practice social distancing, mask wearing and handwashing, she says.
In other news, a study from the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Bank of America found the pandemic did not affect charitable giving from wealthy households. About 90 percent of affluent Americans gave to charitable causes in 2020, with a third of them giving more than in the past to organizations focused on meeting basic needs. Additionally, nearly half of them gave in direct response to the pandemic, whether by donating to charities, businesses or individuals. The study consisted of a survey of more than 1,600 households with a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding the value of their primary home) and/or those with an annual household income of $200,000 or more. According to the study, there were three distinct shifts in giving behavior related to the pandemic: an increase in supporting local community needs; an increase in unrestricted gifts to a variety of nonprofit organizations; and an increase in virtual interactions between nonprofits and donors. Unrestricted giving, meaning funds given to nonprofits to use for any programs they see fit, emerged as a common pattern in 2020, according to the survey. Additionally, nearly 90% of affluent households that increased their giving for basic needs and medical care in 2020 directed their donations to organizations in their own communities. Study co-author Una Osili says one of the reasons for giving more locally is that affluent Americans had more opportunities to learn about their neighborhoods and immediate needs during the pandemic.