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Breakthrough COVID infections possible; Kashmir doctors advise caution

Srinagar: Shazia (name changed) had thrown caution to the wind after getting fully vaccinated. Feeling invincible, she was caught completely off guard, when she tested positive for Covid-19.

“She reported to us two months back and was fully vaccinated. However, she developed Covid pneumonia. Her CT severity was 24/25. Also, on admission her oxygen saturation had dropped to 60 percent,” the doctor at SMHS Hospital, Srinagar said.

 

The vaccine, however, came as a lifesaver. “She recovered within five days and recovered fully. She went home walking without oxygen support,” the doctor said.

Similarly, an elderly male in his sixties, who was fully vaccinated, also got caught in the vortex of Covid induced pneumonia.

“His CT severity 20/25. On admission, oxygen saturation was 75 percent. He recovered without any complication within 10 days. He went home on minimum oxygen support,” the doctor treating him at SMHS Hospital said.

After three weeks he came for a routine checkup. “He was fine and had been off oxygen support,” the doctor said.

With the new emerging variants posing a serious threat to their lives, getting vaccinated against the coronavirus infection has become extremely important. But given the rising numbers of breakthrough infections in the valley, those who have already taken their Covid shot should continue to remain cautious as they too can contract the deadly virus.

“It’s not abnormal for a person to get an infection even after vaccination. But we’ve not seen any death from Covid in a patient who was fully vaccinated. The disease course is usually mild to moderate,” a senior doctor at SMHS Hospital said.

HOD Community Medicine Government Medical College, Srinagar Dr. Salim Khan said the vaccine doesn’t protect from getting infected, rather wearing a mask and following SOPs must be followed strictly to avoid catching the infection.

“If a vaccinated person who is not wearing a mask comes in contact with a Covid positive person, the virus can get transmitted to the person and settle in the nose and throat where testing samples are taken. Thus they would be detected positive on testing,” Dr. Khan said.

He, however, said among vaccinated persons, the invasiveness of viruses and severity of illness is prevented by antibodies developed through vaccination.

“Thus, even if a vaccinated person becomes Covid positive, there won’t be the severity of illness and the majority among them will have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. That necessitates wearing of masks among vaccinated persons also,” Dr. Khan emphasized.

Lecturer GMC Srinagar, Dr. Suhail Naik said the seroconversion that is a percentage of people receiving the vaccine and developing antibodies to its antigens is never 100 percent.

“That is if 100 persons get complete vaccination only 80 to 90 percent can develop a full-strength immune response to its components. Further, a group of people after developing immunity can lose its potency to act against organisms over a period of time,” he said.

Dr. Naik noted that to combat a pandemic the required population to get immune up-gradation is around 60 percent.“That is why we always advise that 100 percent of the population should receive a jab in order to develop herd immunity,” he said.

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