COVID-19 breakthrough patients in Massachusetts cluster talk symptoms

Is Cape Cod COVID-19 cluster reason for a nationwide mask mandate?

Harvard Medical School professor Martin Kulldorff with insight on ‘Fox & Friends First.’

Two Syracuse, New York residents, who were among the hundreds of breakthrough COVID-19 cases in recent Massachusetts outbreaks that caught national attention, are detailing their symptoms.

Mark MacBain, 53, Skip Collins, 52, and a group of friends traveled to Provincetown in mid-July, a popular vacation spot along Cape Cod. Thousands were drawn to the surrounding area between July 3-17 for multiple summer events and large public gatherings, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MacBain and Collins both received the Pfizer vaccine earlier this year.

According to MacBain, the group of friends stayed in several houses, and soon enough, one person wasn’t feeling well and left early. The individual soon tested positive and called back to alert the others, who then sought out testing.

“I woke up Friday the 16th, and I didn’t feel quite right,” MacBain told Fox News in an interview. “As the day progressed, I started feeling like I [had] a head cold. That was my first sign.”

MacBain decided to pack up and leave early to prevent any further potential exposures while his COVID-19 status was unknown.

“On the way home, I had to ride with the heat on in my car and the seat heater because I had the chills,” MacBain recalled. “Still in the 70s in the evening but I was freezing the whole time home.”

MacBain sought testing at a local facility on Saturday, and then received a positive test result. He said he felt tired for the first couple of days, slightly achy and exhausted. He also lost his sense of taste and smell. According to MacBain, he still has yet to regain his sense of smell and some things still don’t taste quite right.

“Chicken for some reason tastes like I’m chewing a piece of rubber,” MacBain said.

Meanwhile, Collins received four negative test results before testing positive on the Thursday following the trip. Upon the positive test result, Collins said he immediately left work and consulted his primary doctor to run additional tests to confirm the result. He then began to experience symptoms.

“I had chills, I lost my taste and smell, I still don’t have that back,” Collins said. “I also had the body aches, I had diarrhea really bad, I had the bad headache.”

Collins said his illness lasted approximately three to four days before he started to feel better. MacBain said his illness remained mild and involved a sore throat, post-nasal drip and sinus pressure. He estimates he’s since nearly fully recovered. Both MacBain and Collins emphasize the vaccine was key in preventing potentially severe outcomes, like serious illness and hospitalization. 

“Everybody has a choice [to vaccinate], but I know from personal experience going through it, I believe and I’m certain that the vaccine helped, 100 percent, because I would’ve been sicker if I hadn’t had the vaccine,” Collins said.

Skip Collins was among many breakthrough infections that cropped up after Fourth of July in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 
(Skip Collins)

The CDC had cited the Massachusetts cluster as a “pivotal discovery” leading to a reversal in mask guidance, now advising fully vaccinated individuals to don masks in public indoor areas in places with high and substantial viral spread. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky had reported “similarly high SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated people [which] … suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus.”

Federal health officials, and some COVID-19 vaccine developers, like Pfizer and J&J, emphasize that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death despite concerning variants.

“The vaccine continues to be highly efficacious in preventing COVID-19, including variants and to date, no variant, including Delta, appears to have escaped the protection of the vaccine,” Pfizer wrote to Fox News on Tuesday. “Furthermore, two doses of BNT162b2 continue to show high efficacy from preventing severe disease and hospitalizations.”

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, as of July 26, the CDC received 6,587 reports of breakthrough infections that resulted in hospitalization or death against a backdrop of 163 million fully vaccinated people, translating to 0.01% or less. 

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