Delta can reinfect even after full vaccine doses

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Delta can reinfect even after full vaccine doses

Thursday, 10 June 2021 | Archana Jyoti | New Delhi

Even if you have received both doses of Covaxin or Covishield vaccines against Covid-19, you can still get re-infected with the virus.

Blame it on the highly contagious Delta variant (B1.617.2) of SARS-COV-2, the version first detected in India in October last year.

Separate studies by AIIMS (Delhi) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which are yet to be peer reviewed, have indicated that the Delta variant is the most common factor  behind  majority of “breakthrough” infections in India. However,  no death has been reported among those vaccinated .

A breakthrough infection is a Covid-19 infections occurring in people who are vaccinated against the disease.

Research , including one by British health authorities, say that Delta variant  is between 40 and 50 per cent more infectious than the “Alpha” version first reported from the UK.

Health experts feel there is nothing to be worried about as vaccination reduces the severity impact as has also been shown by the study.  Of the 63 cases of vaccine breakthrough infections in the study, including 36 who received full doses, not a single person succumbed to Covid-19.

The doctors have stressed on boosting the vaccination rate which, they said, would help guard against the Delta variant gaining a greater hold. The Delta variant is already doing rounds in various parts of the country as well as the world.

The AIIMS-IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, a lab of the CSIR) study was based on an analysis of 63 symptomatic patients who reported to the hospital’s emergency ward complaining of high fever persisting for five to seven days.

Of these 63 people, 53 had been given at least one dose of Covaxin and the rest at least one dose of Covishield. Thirty-six had received both doses of one of these vaccines.

At least, 76.9 per cent of infections by the Delta variant  were recorded in people who had received a single dose, and 60 per cent in people who had received both doses.

Similarly, data from the NCDC-IGIB study indicated that breakthrough infections due to the Delta variant  seemed to affect people who took Covishield while Delta  breakthrough infections was reported in 27 patients who had taken that vaccine, with the infection rate at 70.3 per cent.

Both studies also indicated that while the vaccine’s protection against the ‘Delta’, and even ‘alpha’, variants may be reduced, severity of infection in each case appeared to be unaffected as a result.

The patients had reported symptoms of high-grade fever, shortness of breath and headache. “The viral load at the time of diagnosis was high in all the patients irrespective of vaccination status or type of vaccine received,” said the study but pointed out that no death was reported.

Senior co-author Anurag Agrawal from IGIB told a news channel that “it was the first study in India to link a variant to a major outbreak.

If there was no Delta [variant] and only the Alpha variant came into India (from the UK), would we have had an outbreak like this? I don’t think so,” Dr Agrawal had said.

The report noted infections among those who had been fully vaccinated were “usually mild”, and the variant itself did not lead to a higher rate of death.

Dr Rahul Bhargava, Principal Director, Hemato Oncology and BMT division at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, and a leading cell transplant expert said more data is needed before we can reach this conclusion. “But still, if one goes by this small sample size study, it seems the Delta variant is evading all the possible vaccines at present. Only light in the gloomy report is that no death has been reported. Thus the mask still has its relevance in the era of vaccination.  Another important aspect is that we need to ramp up the vaccination as one dose is not going to be sufficient.”

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