Indy doctor: Breakthrough hospitalizations, not cases, better determine vaccine success

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — While the possibility of a coronavirus infection after being vaccinated is rare, it does happen.

However, the number of people contracting COVID-19 after getting their full dose is rising; these are called breakthrough cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines breakthrough cases as the detection of a coronavirus antigen in a respiratory specimen collected from a person more than 14 days after they completed all recommended vaccine doses authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

While this trend may strike fear in some, Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive at Community Health Network, says it’s to be expected. The medical community needs to reframe the barometer of vaccine success not in terms of breakthrough “cases” but in terms of something else.

“What I think we need to say is breakthrough hospitalizations, not breakthrough infections,” Yeleti told News 8. “And that is the issue if I have 180 people in my hospital and five are vaccinated and the other 175 are not. So, we have to think of it in terms of breakthrough hospitalizations and breakthrough deaths.”

No vaccine is perfect, Yeleti adds. At best, he says, we can expect the flu vaccine to be 55% effective from year to year. Evidence shows coronavirus vaccines range, depending on the shot, are up to 94% effective. 

To date, there have been approximately 13,000 breakthrough cases. Of those cases 0.008% resulted in either hospitalization or death.


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