Breakthrough infections rising but total cases remain below 1%

22 September 2021 – Breakthrough Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection cases or patients contracting the virus despite being fully vaccinated has noticeably increased in the city amid the ongoing surge in cases but the number remains minimal at below one percent.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong last Sept. 21 said the city recorded a 0.49 percent breakthrough infection rate as of Sept. 19 with 587 fully vaccinated individuals contracting the virus out of the 119,589 who received their full vaccine dose.

This jumped from the last count of 0.24 percent infection rate computed last Aug. 26.

Fully vaccinated would mean the 587 contracted the virus 14 days after their final vaccine dose.

There were also those who got infected before their second dose numbering 182 and those who received their second dose but before the 14th day of their final dose at 96.  These however are not considered as breakthrough cases.

The City Health Service Office under Dr. Rowena Galpo said majority of the breakthrough patients are asymptomatic to mild which meant that vaccines delivered on their purpose to prevent severe symptoms and death.

The CHSO said breakthrough infections happen because no vaccines currently in use offer 100 percent effective against virus infection but they are highly effective against severe symptoms that lessen the chances of getting hospitalized or dying.

“We have vaccines that are not perfect.  Hindi ibig sabihin na pag mabakunahan ay hindi ka mahahawa  o magkaka-symptom.  But all vaccines are efficacious at preventing severe illness and death.  There will be breakthrough cases but what is important is you will not be among those people now overwhelming the hospitals, needing oxygen and ventilators,” City Epidemiologist Dr. Donnabel Panes said.

She said people also have different capabilities to produce antibodies that is why some do not get infected while some still do.

Other factors that affect breakthrough infections are the variant that infected the person and the type of vaccine used.

The occurrence of breakthrough cases also cannot be avoided in an urban setting like Baguio City where social mixing is inherent.

The World Health Organization said breakthrough cases after vaccination “usually happen before the body has had time to develop maximum immunity.”

It said two-dose vaccines usually take two to four weeks after the final vaccination to reach maximum level of protection.

“Even with a highly effective vaccine, a small number of people will still get ill because no vaccine protects 100 percent of people.”

Mayor Magalong encouraged residents to get vaccinated when their turns come.

“Vaccines may not give total protection but some protection is better than having none at all.  They us the fighting chance against infection, severe symptoms, hospitalization and death,” he said. – Aileen P. Refuerzo