News & Blogs
October 11 2021

COVID-19 Breakthrough Infection What Does It Mean?

With the ongoing pandemic, no one can be complacent. It is still best to follow safety protocols to help curb the spread of the virus. Everyone needs to understand that the emergence of the Delta variant has made COVID-19 even more contagious. In fact, more children are getting infected these days. On top of that, even those already vaccinated are getting infected.
As of September 23, 2021, 19.7 million people were fully vaccinated in the Philippines. Unfortunately, breakthrough COVID cases have been recorded, too. As to why that is, read on to learn more.

What is a breakthrough infection?

COVID breakthrough infection refers to cases affecting people who are already vaccinated against the virus. However, these infections do not mean that vaccines are ineffective. It is important to understand that any vaccine does not promise 100% efficacy. What they do promise is protection against severe or even fatal COVID-19 illness.
With aggressive inoculation on the rest of the population, the spread of the COVID-19 virus, regardless of variant, is slowed down. Right now, that is the best the world could hope for while experts try to find more effective ways to end this pandemic.
According to the US Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), only one (1) in 250 vaccinated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. And less than 1% of COVID-related hospitalizations involved vaccinated patients. These numbers mean vaccination works, if not to eliminate a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19 entirely, at least to prevent a severe infection requiring intensive medical attention.
With fewer people requiring medical attention due to COVID-19, healthcare facilities will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. And they can better care for patients in critical conditions, whether due to COVID-19 or other illnesses.

What We Know So Far

The subject of breakthrough COVID-19 infections might sound like something people should fear. But that should not be the case. Fear can be counterproductive to finding solutions, so the first step to address the problem is not to be afraid but to understand what it is all about.
  • Breakthrough infections happen (they are normal)

In the history of vaccine development, no vaccine has been deemed 100% effective in eliminating any known contagious diseases. Breakthrough infections do happen. But when they do, they are significantly less life-threatening, thanks to vaccines.
  • It does not mean the vaccines are not working

Rest assured that the COVID-19 vaccines currently being rolled out have a sufficient efficacy rate to be allowed distribution. Some brands have higher efficacy rates than others. Still, those numbers are based on different sample populations and research frameworks, so they do not give any credence to brand-based vaccine hesitancy.
Regardless of the brand, the important thing is to get vaccinated as soon as there is access to a vaccine.
  • The Delta variant is partly to blame

The Delta variant is a mutant strain that is highly contagious. That is one reason why breakthrough infections are happening. Since more people are getting infected, those who are already vaccinated get more exposure to the new variant, leading to more infections. But since they are already inoculated, their immune system is better equipped at fighting the virus.
  • Breakthrough infections still spread the virus

Vaccinated people can still spread the COVID-19 virus. That is true even if one feels no symptoms. Here, the risk of asymptomatic carriers spreading the virus becomes more pronounced. This is where the importance of observing minimum health protocols comes in, vaccinated or not.
  • Older adults are most susceptible

CDC data shows that 73% of breakthrough COVID infections which resulted in hospitalization or fatality happened among adults 65 years and older. That is not surprising given the compromised immunity of this demographic. Those living with senior citizens, especially ones with comorbidities, should be more careful.
  • Testing is crucial

The colder months are about to come, and it will be the cold and flu season once again. Since COVID-19 shares similar symptoms with the common cold and the flu, it is crucial to get tested whenever these symptoms manifest.
  • There is no returning to the old normal as we know it

At least not anytime soon. Herd immunity requires at least 70% of the population to be vaccinated. But even if this is achieved, there is the risk of new variants appearing. So, for now, vaccination should still be paired with adherence to minimum health protocols.

Stop the Spread of COVID-19

The best defense against COVID-19 is vaccination. With vaccination efforts ongoing and more doses are continuously arriving in the country, everyone must grab the opportunity to get vaccinated. However, it is worth noting that even those who have already received the complete vaccine doses must still follow minimum safety protocols to be better protected.
Avoid gatherings as much as possible, especially those happening in enclosed areas. When going out, wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines. Consider these health protocols as a small way to contribute to the collective fight against the pandemic.
Meanwhile, for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate and get tested ASAP. The same goes for those going through signs of other infectious diseases. For other health concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to Makati Medical Center for world-class facilities and healthcare services.