20 Aug 2021: Half of India's 87K breakthrough infections in Kerala, Centre says
Kerala has accounted for nearly half of all the breakthrough infections reported in India so far, according to the central government. The Union Health Ministry said that 46% of the total 87,000 such cases in the country have been reported from that state, translating to roughly 40,000 infections. Breakthrough infections refer to new COVID-19 cases detected in fully vaccinated people.
Details: Infections seen in areas with high vaccination rates
As per the Health Ministry report, breakthrough infections have been seen in Kerala's Wayanad, which is the first district across India to administer the first vaccine dose to all eligible people. A central report had earlier said that Pathanamthitta saw more than 7,000 such cases by July-end. In that district, 75% people have been given the first dose.
Officials: Kerala officials deny the Centre's data
Kerala Health Department officials, however, have rejected the Centre's data on breakthrough cases. "We have no idea about 40,000 cases as mentioned by the Union Health Ministry. Our estimate is less than 0.1%, which means around 5,000-5,500 breakthrough cases," an official said, according to Hindustan Times. A Pathanamthitta district official said there were 258 such cases there, as against 7,000 cited by the Centre.
Situation: Kerala still reporting high number of daily new cases
Kerala has been reporting nearly half of all new daily coronavirus cases in the country for the past several weeks. On Thursday, the state reported 21,116 fresh cases, with a high test positivity rate of 16.15%. It also witnessed 197 deaths. Officials in the state have attributed the situation to a delayed onset of the second wave and high testing rates, among other reasons.
Concerns: Experts say breakthrough infections within expectations
The high rate of breakthrough infections has sparked concerns over possible presence of mutated strains and vaccine efficacy. However, experts have said there is no cause for concern as yet. They say that no new COVID-19 variant has been found in the state and most infections are of the Delta strain. The proportion of breakthrough infections are within the expectations, they assure.
Quote: 'Vaccines effective in preventing severity and deaths'
"It is quite natural that a high number of breakthrough infections are reported. The vaccines continue to show efficacy between 70 to 75%. That means not all will get protected against the infection," said Dr. Padmanabha Shenoy. "The new variants have helped the virus to spread...But it could not reduce the efficiency of vaccine in preventing severity and deaths," according to Dr. Anish TS.
Report: Breakthrough cases common due to Delta variant, report says
Meanwhile, the Indian government's top genome sequencing authority said breakthrough infections have become common across the globe due to the Delta variant. "As of now, sequencing of vaccination breakthroughs in India is also showing a very high proportion of Delta variant," the consortium said. The Delta variant was first identified in India last year and drove the country's devastating second wave of the pandemic.
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