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Breakthrough Covid-19 cases, re-infections a ‘cause of major concern’

“More new variants of coronavirus are likely to emerge and some of these new mutations could evade immune responses in vaccinated individuals. Therefore, it is important that people properly follow the Covid protocols without letting their guard down,”

Sankha Ghosh | Siliguri |

The rising number of Covid19 breakthrough cases and reinfections has come up as a major cause of concern, health experts have said. As the number of Covid-19 patients increases in the third wave, the trend suggests both the unvaccinated and vaccinated population are contracting the virus.

Doctors have observed a significant number of new admissions in hospitals, and most of them had taken both the shots against Covid-19. If someone gets infected even after immunization, it is called the Vaccine Breakthrough Infection (VBI). “Both the Delta and Omicron variants display their characteristic feature of escaping immunity.

Epidemiologists have stressed that the Delta is still in circulation, and therefore, it can re-infect people or vaccinated people, especially those whose immune responses have waned. The highly contagious Omicron is an immune evasive variant. The number of cases of breakthrough infections and re-infections has gone up during the third wave. It, however, does not undermine the efficacy of the vaccine,” said the associate professor of pathology at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, Dr Kalyan Khan. Not only that, till date, it is evident that the vaccines in use right now are efficiently preventing critical illness as well as death among all categories of patients, Dr Khan said.

According to him, against any present or future strains of the virus, the most effective primary measure is zero-tolerance against laxity in the Covid-appropriate behaviour. “More new variants of coronavirus are likely to emerge and some of these new mutations could evade immune responses in vaccinated individuals. Therefore, it is important that people properly follow the Covid protocols without letting their guard down,” Dr Khan said.

Director of health services of the West Bengal health and family welfare department Dr Ajoy Chakraborty has said Omicron had been found in 77 percent of the people in the state whose swab samples were tested. Dr Chakraborty had recently said that according to the genome sequencing reports for 1499 cases till 2 January, 77.2 per cent samples had the Omicron variant. According to noted physician Dr Shankha Sen, he was getting many Covid patients who had been vaccinated.

“I am treating many Covid patients who are fully vaccinated, but the severity of the diseases is less unlike the previous two waves. It is believed that the latest surge is driven by the Omicron variant. Delta infections are associated with a relatively high risk of severe lung disease. Now infection in the patients is maximum found in the upper respiratory tracts, and is confined to upper respiratory symptoms. Generally, vaccinated persons who contract the virus are having mild symptoms. We have found that though the infectivity rate is very high, the severity has remained low. The hospitalisation rate is low so far,” said Dr Sen, who is also the secretary of the Association of Physicians of North Bengal.

Dr Sen also said that enhancing the vaccination drive and immunising the population rapidly would be the most important strategy to prevent further deadly waves of Covid-19. The doctors pointed out to studies that have suggested that Omicron could cause re-infections and in fully vaccinated people. Some experts, meanwhile, cautioned that patients, especially those with comorbidity, might need hospital care.

Another poll candidate tests Covid-positive Kamal Agarwal, a Trinamul Congress candidate contesting the Siliguri Municipal Corporation elections in from Ward 10, was tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday. Darjeeling district TMC president Papiya Ghosh appealed to party workers to remain alert and follow the Covid guidelines in the wake of the situation. Meanwhile, with the initiative of the CPI-M election candidate of Ward 19 Mousumi Hazra, a Covid-19 awareness campaign and santitisation drive was conducted today