Mumbai: More than 6,000 people have contracted Covid after being fully vaccinated and on account of travel, according to a survey conducted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Such cases are referred to as ‘breakthrough’ infections, indicating that the virus has been able to break through the defences created by the vaccine. According to the data, 6,504 were reinfected after getting both doses of Covid-19 vaccine. Civic officials say it is well understood that no vaccine offers 100 per cent protection from any disease, meaning there are breakthrough cases for all kinds of vaccines — including Covid-19 vaccines. According to the Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), while vaccinated people are much less likely to get sick, the possibility is never entirely ruled out.
BMC Executive Health Officer Dr Mangala Gomare said that according to the information received so far, only 1.5 per cent of the people who took both doses had suffered from corona. Most of them had mild symptoms while some needed ICU care. “Now, there is no information on any fatalities. As the survey progresses, we will learn about the actual situation,” Dr Gomare said.
A senior doctor from the civic health department said the civic body’s data collection exercise was two-pronged. It asked all hospitals to track Covid patients who were admitted. At the same time, its war rooms were tasked with contacting patients in home isolation at the time to collect information.
“These numbers indicate that vaccines are effective in preventing serious infection in a majority of the population. The absolute numbers may rise once hospitalised patients are accounted for. That data is being compiled,” said an official.
A senior official from the state Covid taskforce said currently vaccines were being used as early generation emergency use authorisation vaccines. “In a conventional vaccine timetable, it would take years to develop a vaccine but these are early generation fast-tracked vaccines and we need more data and strong pharmacovigilance to get a better insight on their effectiveness. Better and more effective vaccines will be eventually developed that will reduce the rate of breakthrough infections,” he said.
Senior health experts said that it was difficult to draw a comparison of breakthrough infections reported with those found across the state or national level because such numbers were not available in the public domain.
“The mortality among those who get a breakthrough infection is also lower and post-Covid complications are also minimal. It also shows the globally accepted fact that no vaccine provides 100 per cent safety and there could be a minuscule percentage of breakthrough infections,” he said.
Infectious diseases expert and member of the Covid taskforce Dr Om Srivastava, said there was a possibility that some people had been reinfected after taking the vaccine, while some have even been hospitalised. “It is too early to say whether the vaccine is effective or not. For this, we will have to watch and follow up for at least one or three years, but people should take the vaccine when it is their turn and follow the protocol together. When the time comes, a booster dose should also be taken,” he said.
BMC Immunisation Officer Dr Sheela Jagtap said while vaccines were definitely helpful in fighting corona, but they were more useful in reducing the severity of the disease though in such a situation, the assumption that people would not have Covid after taking the vaccine and their not following Covid protocol could cause problems for others. “Therefore, even after taking the vaccine, wear a mask, avoid crowds and pay attention to cleanliness,” she said.