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1 in 7 hospital staff infected with Covid-19 after vaccination: small study

People who get infected with Covid-19 even after getting a vaccine shot are known as “breakthrough cases”, implying that the infection has broken through the protection provided by the vaccine.

Syringes filled with Covishield vaccine for Covid-19 lie on ice box at a primary health centre in Srinagar (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin)

A small-scale study in healthcare workers at a private hospital in Delhi found that “breakthrough” infections occurred in 13.3% of them (about 1 in 7), with one requiring hospitalisation. The study was conducted on healthcare workers from Fortis Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology and has been published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews.

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What are breakthrough cases?

People who get infected with Covid-19 even after getting a vaccine shot are known as “breakthrough cases”, implying that the infection has broken through the protection provided by the vaccine. According to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the incidence of such cases in both vaccines in use in India — Covaxin and Covishield — has remained low.

How was the study conducted?

The hospital has 123 employees out of whom 113 had been vaccinated by the time the study took place. The workers included doctors, nutritionists, nurses, paramedical workers, and maintenance staff. The healthcare facility caters to patients of diabetes with or without complications, related metabolic disorders & those requiring non-emergency surgeries.

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A detailed database was maintained by the hospital regarding vaccinations and Covid-19 infections of all the employees from January till date. All infections after any dose of vaccinations were recorded. The study was conducted between January 16 till date. Of the 113 participants, 28 had been administered Covaxin while 85 were inoculated with Covishield.

What were the findings?

Out of the 113 who had been vaccinated, a second dose was administered to 107. Breakthrough symptomatic Covid-19 infections (more than 14 days after the second dose) was seen in 15 persons (13.3% of 113). All were symptomatic with fever and half of them had sore throat and cough. “A few had loose motion and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms lasted from 3-14 days. Except one who required hospitalisation, all 14 persons with breakthrough infections had mild Covid- 19 disease,” said Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman of the healthcare facility.

What are the implications?

The researchers concluded that high prevalence of “breakthrough” infection is seen in the healthcare facility. Dr Misra said: “Covid-19 infections after complete doses of vaccination will be important morbidity post pandemic, and may become a source of further infections. We need more research and data especially in community dwelling people. ‘Breakthrough’ infection in India after complete vaccination should be a prime area of research. This is an important area and clearly needs more research. It is reassuring that the majority of breakthrough infections seen in our facility are mild. But a significant area of concern is that asymptomatic infections were missed since RT-PCR test was selectively done in symptomatic patients. These asymptomatic patients are likely to promote viral spread.”

First published on: 11-05-2021 at 04:15:19 am
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