Covid-19: Breakthrough infections post-vaccination form majority of Kerala cases; symptoms mild

By: |
November 05, 2021 1:40 PM

Public health expert Dr. NM Arun said vaccines reduced the intensity of symptoms — their efficacy was related to minimising the severity rather than insulating from infections.

kerala covidThe state is reporting around 50% of India’s daily caseload. (PTI/File)

Breakthrough infections constituted a sizable proportion of Kerala’s daily Covid-19 count over the past two weeks, state government data revealed. However, a tiny fraction of the patients required ICU admission or oxygen beds as vaccination reduced the severity of the symptoms, a state health official told The Indian Express. Breakthrough infections is a viral or bacterial infection after vaccination. Health experts suggest breakthrough infections were an expected occurrence in a small percentage of the vaccinated population since no vaccine is 100% effective.

Kerala reported 119,401 positive cases between October 19 and November 2, the data showed. Of these, 1,00,593 had been eligible for vaccination, while 67,980 got either a single dose or both doses.

Of those eligible, 40,584 were fully vaccinated, while 27,396 had been jabbed with one dose.

Kerala Health Minister Veena George said the government had anticipated the trend of breakthrough infections. She added that the data also proved that vaccination prevented the severity of infections.

The minister said only around 2% of the state’s 77,516 active cases required oxygen beds and 1.5% needed ICU admission in the past week.

In Kerala, 95% of the eligible population have received the first vaccine dose, while 52% have been fully vaccinated.

The state is reporting around 50% of India’s daily caseload. Kerala also accounts for 45% of the country’s active cases.

George said the latest seroprevalence survey suggested that the state’s population got immunity mainly from vaccination rather than infection. In many other states, she said, the high prevalence of antibodies was mainly the result of widespread infections.

Although fully vaccinated persons are still getting infected, deaths caused by Covid-19 among them are rare. In cases where fully vaccinated people succumbed, the victims were either very old or had severe comorbid conditions, she said.

An official said health workers — the first to get fully vaccinated — figured regularly among those getting infected. Vaccination has also given people a false sense of confidence, prompting many to flout Covid protocols, a health official said.

Dr. TS Aneesh, a member of Kerala’s Covid-19 expert committee, told The Indian Express that health and frontline workers, government officials and teachers on election duty were the first to get fully vaccinated.

The data on breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated has led to suspicion that the immunity level might be going down, Dr. Aneesh said.

Aneesh said in states where natural infection was high, the chances of breakthrough infections were low.

Kerala had immunity from vaccine, leaving the state vulnerable to breakthrough infections. Dr. Aneesh said breakthrough infections showed the health system’s effectiveness. Symptoms in breakthrough infections are very mild. Such cases can only be detected through effective testing, he added.

Public health expert Dr. NM Arun said the trend highlighted the need for Covid-appropriate behaviour post vaccination. He said vaccines reduced the intensity of symptoms — their efficacy was related to minimising the severity rather than insulating from infections.

He added that it was because of vaccination that the number of cases in hospitals went down.

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