Professional sports leagues are uniquely positioned to track breakthrough Covid cases because they test thousands of athletes consistently, according to Dr. Robby Sikka, a physician who has worked with numerous NBA and NFL teams.
Sikka told CNBC that the highly transmissible delta variant is “absolutely” driving most of the Covid breakthrough cases he’s studied.
“Delta is driving this,” said Sikka, the founder of Sports Medicine Analytics Research Team, an organization that assists numerous professional sports leagues with injury data.
“We know that the delta variant has a higher viral load, it’s more infectious, it’s more contagious, and it is driving cases in the community. There’s an extremely high viral burden in the community.”
As Covid cases surge nationwide, new research is showing that fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus as asymptomatic carriers. More than 5,900 fully vaccinated Americans have either died or been hospitalized with Covid breakthrough infections through July 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data. The website also notes that 1,821 of those cases were either “asymptomatic or not related to Covid-19.”
Sikka told “The News with Shepard Smith” that vaccines do work to prevent severe illness when it comes to Covid and the delta variant, and that a key takeaway from sports is that vaccinated athletes come back sooner than those who are unvaccinated.
“The athletes that have gotten Covid, despite being vaccinated, by and large, returned and have done well and been able to return and perform at a high level,” said Sikka.