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COVID-19: Breakthrough infections in Kerala not alarming, say experts

The purpose of vaccination is not prevention of transmission, but reduction in the severity of the infection and chances of death, experts say.

Published: 30th August 2021 02:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2021 12:14 PM   |  A+A-

Maximum breakthrough infections were reported with the spread of the Delta variant

Maximum breakthrough infections were reported with the spread of the Delta variant. (Photo | Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

KOCHI:  The Centre has sounded the alarm over the high number of breakthrough infections reported in Kerala. According to a Union Health Ministry report last week, 46% of the around 87,000 breakthrough cases reported in India were in the state.

Though the numbers paint a scary picture, health experts opine that the situation does not call for alarm or panic.

The purpose of vaccination is not prevention of transmission, but reduction in the severity of the infection and chances of death, they say.

As a result of the state’s robust vaccination drive, the number of hospital admissions due to severe Covid infection has come down.

As per experts in the state, breakthrough infections are the highest among healthcare workers since they were the first lot to be fully vaccinated.

“Studies based on viral load and transmission clusters have found that, when a fully vaccinated person has a breakthrough infection, the transmissibility rate is much more in comparison to a person who has been infected without vaccination. Simply put, the risk of transmitting the virus is less in somebody who is not vaccinated, when compared to those infected after vaccination,” said infectious disease expert Dr Anup R Warrier.

“Breakthrough infections are likely to be more transmissible from the vaccinated group. Now, it is well accepted that the Covid vaccine is not an infection- preventing one because, despite many efforts, infections are very common even after vaccination. This vaccine is specifically a disease-modifying one — you might get infected even after taking the jab, but the severity of the disease is kept low,” he added.

Though vaccination may not control transmission, it definitely has an impact on hospitalisation and death due to the infection.

After vaccination, many countries including the US, UK and Israel had reported a high number of breakthrough infections, especially among healthcare workers, that had put at risk patients they were treating as well.

Maximum breakthrough infections were reported with the spread of the Delta variant.

“Though the vaccination drive is progressing at a good pace in the state, there are many who are still questioning the entire process. It was made clear from the very beginning that vaccination does not protect one from getting the Covid infection. The spread of the infection can be prevented only by following the basic Covid protocol of masking, sanitising and maintaining social distancing. Even after vaccination, these have to be followed,” said Dr Gopikumar P, ENT specialist.

Furthermore, the experts also added that the spread of infection will come down only if 50% of the population achieve immunity against the virus.

In Kerala, 57% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 20% have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Kerala government has decided to conduct genetic studies in districts which have reported more than 5% breakthrough infections.



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