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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

‘Breakthrough’ Covid-19 infections extremely rare post-vaccination: US study

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The authorised vaccines have been proven to protect against “breakthrough infections”, though more research is needed. 

As of now, studies show those that have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are safe, with “breakthrough infections” proving to be extremely rare.

A New York study, conducted using 417 fully vaccinated employees at Rockefeller University, found only two had become infected even after receiving the Pfizer or Moderna shots.

“We have characterised bona fide examples of vaccine breakthrough manifesting as clinical symptoms,” the researchers wrote in the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“These observations in no way undermine the importance of the urgent efforts being taken at the federal and state levels to vaccinate the US population. They also lend support to efforts to advance a new vaccine booster (as well as a pan-coronavirus vaccine) to provide increased protection against variants.” it said.

Rockefeller University researchers found that new variants of the virus with various differences from the original strain caused the breakthrough infections.

One of the patients was infected with the variant carrying the mutation E484K, which is known as the South African strain initially found in the B.1.351 variant.

E484K has been called an “escape mutant” after studies proved that it could escape some of the antibodies produced by the anti-Covid vaccines. 

Read also: Moderna, Pfizer testing ‘tweaked’ vaccine to tackle deadlier variants

“One of the mutations found in both study participants’ infections included D614G, which emerged early in the pandemic,” the study said, noting a breakthrough infection was recorded in a healthy 51-year-old woman. Nineteen days after her second dose, she tested positive for Covid-19 after developing symptoms.

The second breakthrough infection was found in a healthy 65-year-old woman who received her second shot of the Pfizer vaccine on February 9. 

“She later learned that her partner, who was unvaccinated, tested positive for Covid-19 on March 3. In the following days, the woman developed symptoms of her own. She tested positive for Covid-19 on March 17,” CNN report added. 

The latest findings suggest that more research is needed to determine the severity of breakthrough infections as well as the possibility of the emergence of new variants among a larger group of participants.

So far, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had received less than 6,000 reports of breakthrough coronavirus infections among more than 84 million people fully vaccinated nationwide, CNN reported.

Other recent studies suggest that a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccines could become soon become necessary to combat deadlier variants.

Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have been in the works to launch a backup plan in case the new variants of the virus “breakthrough” today’s shots.

Experts say it’s not yet clear if or when an updated version of the vaccine will be needed but health officials are seeking to turn Covid-19 into a harmless flu as quickly as possible.

The novel coronavirus has posed a threat to global health and economy since it first appeared in March last year and has been constantly evolving into more deadly strains, pushing nations around the world into a race to vaccinate millions to bring Covid-19 to an end.

In Qatar, extensive efforts are being put into the expansion of the vaccination drive.

Latest figures show more than 1.3 million doses of the vaccine have now been administered in Qatar, where the Gulf state has now reached 400 deaths.


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