With several reported cases of infections after partial or complete vaccination, occurring in a small percentage of people, concerns have been raised on the efficacy of vaccination against the mutated variants of COVID-19. The infections occurring two weeks after the full vaccination have been referred to as ‘Break Through Infections’ or BTI. In a significant study conducted by Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, vaccines were found to be effective in combating mutated variants and protect the vaccinated from severe illness, hospitalization, or death.
The study was conducted on 69 symptomatic health care workers working at the hospital, who tested positive for COVID-19 after their vaccination with the Covishield vaccine, during the first 100 days of the vaccination drive earlier this year. The study analyzed nasopharyngeal samples for genome sequencing, in collaboration with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Genome Sequencing is the key test to identify the nature of the virus and the variants that may emerge. Currently, this facility is available in only ten select Government organizations, but such testing facilities are now being increased in the near future by the Government of India.
According to Dr. Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director and Senior Pediatric Gastroenterologist of Apollo Hospitals, “Amongst 69 people, 51 were fully vaccinated with two doses (73.91%) and the remaining 18 (26.09%) were partially immunized with a single dose, prior to acquiring the infection. The predominant infections occurred from B.1.617.2 lineage (47.83%), followed by B.1 and B.1.1.7 strains. There were only two hospital admissions (2.89%) for minor symptoms, but no ICU admissions and deaths, from this group. These findings are significant because more than half of the cohort were found infected with the Variant of Concern (VoC) and still escaped from the severe illness, which could have been a severe event for them without vaccination coverage.” Variants of Concern are mutated versions of a virus that may spread more rapidly or may cause severe illness and hence notified for global monitoring by the World Health Organization and other multi-lateral health agencies.
One of the key authors of this study, Dr Raju Vaishya, Sr. Consultant, Orthopedics, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals said, “We noticed that the post-vaccination SARS-COV-2 infections were seen only in a small subset of our healthcare workers. The majority of these infections were minor, despite being caused by the Variants of Concern. Since, the immunity in an individual takes some time after the vaccination, therefore it is essential for the vaccinated individual to be extra careful at least two weeks after the 2nd dose of vaccination and even further, by taking universal safety precautions like maintaining social distancing, using face masks, and hand sanitation.”
This study concluded that the prior vaccination in the health care workers offered clear protection from severe disease due to variants requiring hospital and ICU admissions and deaths.
Summary of 2 studies done by Apollo Hospital Delhi
APOLLO HOSPITALS’ STUDY ON BREAK THROUGH INFECTIONS (BTIs) (Issued on 15th May)
The earlier study concluded that COVID 19 vaccines are effective with vaccine breakthrough (people getting COVID after partial or full vaccination) occurring only in a small percentage of vaccinated people. Hence urging citizens to resist vaccine hesitancy by pointing at the fact that vaccines not only give an immunity against Covid but also protects from the severe effects caused by it. The above was elaborated through a pilot study conducted on the vaccinated people who contracted the virus. The results were such that only 0.06% of people who contracted the virus after vaccination, required hospitalization with no ICU or ventilators used.
APOLLO HOSPITAL DELHI STUDY On Sever Infection (Issued on 26th May)
The second study is a continuation of the first release as here the study further gets narrowed to the sample who contracted the virus after vaccination. Here the sample was studied on the strain (B1.617.2) of virus. The study shows that even after contracting the strain which is termed as variant of concern by WHO (the strain is termed to be more infectious), the percentage of hospitalization with ICU and ventilators were negligible. Hence, concluding at a fact that vaccines are effective on the Indian strain/mutation and should be taken by everyone, eligible for the same.