Nearly 22 years into the 21st century, Covid-19 has become the most infectious and deadly virus of the century, not only among unvaccinated people, but also quite a few fully vaccinated individuals.
While the unvaccinated are, by far, the most at risk of contracting and transmitting the coronavirus, vaccinated people can develop symptoms and pass the virus onto others, although at a far lesser rate.
When a person who is fully vaccinated (14 days after the second dose of all two-dose vaccines) tests positive for the virus, it is referred to as a “breakthrough” case. Individuals who catch Covid-19 during the 14-day window are not considered breakthrough cases, because their bodies have yet to develop full immunity.
Globally, breakthroughs are happening, owing mostly to the extremely infectious delta variant. This coronavirus variant seems to have raised the risk of infections in previously vaccinated individuals.
Despite that, the good news is all Covid-19-authorized vaccines in Thailand have been proven to be safe and effective against serious symptoms, hospitalization, and death. More importantly, one needs to understand that breakthrough cases are not the primary reason for Thailand’s current Covid-19 surge.
Breakthrough Cases Expected
Widespread fear about Covid-19 variants persists, driven in part by scary headlines and false expectations about the miraculous vaccines. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to anticipate breakthrough cases. This is because none of the Covid-19 vaccines are completely effective against infections.
There are a variety of reasons for this, but the primary one is that viruses develop and mutate over time as they spread and reproduce, making it rather difficult for vaccines to keep up with the changes.
It is comparable to playing catch-up. This is also a frequent occurrence with non-Covid vaccines, which is why flu vaccines are always in development.
How Common Are Breakthrough Cases?
Breakthrough c are still regarded as very uncommon. They seem to be more prevalent in newly discovered strains. Nevertheless, it is difficult to get a very comprehensive figure since many vaccinated individuals exhibit no symptoms and therefore cannot be confirmed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in the United States, as of April 30, there were 10,262 breakthrough cases out of 101 million fully vaccinated people in the U.S., accounting for 0.01 percent.
Due to the ridiculously low number of Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths among the fully vaccinated, the CDC stopped monitoring breakthrough cases May 1. It’s yet another indication that breakthroughs are not a major concern.
In Thailand as well, the surge of Covid-19 infections is not due to breakthrough instances. Using real-world data from frontline workers, unvaccinated individuals continue to account for the overwhelming majority of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Individuals who have not been vaccinated are eight times more likely to contract the virus than those who have been immunized, and unvaccinated individuals are 10 times more likely to die than those who have been vaccinated.
Individuals who are fully vaccinated have much greater protection against Covid-19 than those who are not. Immunized individuals who get sick are less likely to develop symptoms (if any) than those who are not vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals are also more likely to recover in a shorter span, even when exposed to the Delta variant.
Understand Your Risks
There has been a misunderstanding about the risks to vaccinated individuals and how vaccinated individuals should approach their lives. Individual risk for Covid-19 infection after immunization also varies according to geographical circumstances, general health, measures taken, and the frequency with which an individual is exposed to the unvaccinated who may be infected.
Many people seek clear answers about what they may and may not do after receiving the Covid-19 jabs. Is it OK to do a grocery run? Is it safe to return to the office? Is it too risky to visit the elders?
There is no one-size-fits-all response to such concerns, but the basic conclusion is that vaccines provide significant protection against Covid-19 and, with appropriate measures, enable people to restart more normal lives. Over-assurance about miraculous vaccines is a trap, and risk is contingent upon a variety of variables.
Therefore, keep your guard up, particularly if you often interact with people who are ineligible for the vaccine, like young children. In public, wear a mask, maintain physical distance, and wash your hands often. While these breakthrough cases are relatively uncommon, they serve as a warning that the pandemic is far from finished.