NBC NEWS – Two reports of so-called coronavirus breakthrough infections — in which fully vaccinated people get the illness anyway — suggest that the vaccines still offer strong protection against severe disease even in the face of variants.
The cases, which were detailed Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, were those of two women out of more than 400 fully vaccinated study participants who were tested for Covid-19 weekly. Both women developed mild cases and recovered quickly.
A co-author of the study, Dr. Robert Darnell, a professor and senior physician at Rockefeller University in New York City, said the two cases aren’t cause for alarm. “They certainly didn’t need to be hospitalized,” he said. “They had at-home cases of Covid-19.”
As the number of fully vaccinated people increases in the U.S., so, too, will reports of breakthrough infections rise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that it had received reports of around 5,800 breakthrough infections out of more that 77 million fully vaccinated people.
Breakthrough infections can occur because no vaccine is 100 percent effective. Such cases remain very rare.
CDC officials are gathering more data about breakthrough cases to determine whether there are any patterns. Among the questions is whether certain variants are more likely to play a role in breakthrough cases.
Both of the cases in the new report were sequenced, and both were found to share certain mutations with the variants first identified in the U.K. and New York. However, neither included all the mutations to match the previously identified variants. (Variants of the virus can include a number of mutations.)
Experts cautioned that because the report detailed just two cases, it’s too early to draw conclusions about which variants are most likely to lead to breakthrough infections.
One of the samples included a mutation called E484K, which is also found in the variants from South Africa, Brazil and New York City. It is thought to help the virus evade the body’s immune response to a degree … Click here to read more.
Are the Current Vaccines Effective Against New Variants?
March 4, 2021
JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION – As long as SARS-CoV-2 continues to spread, mutations will occur and new variants will emerge.
Among the dominant variants currently in circulation, data suggest that the mRNA-1273 vaccine (Moderna) effectively neutralizes the B.1.1.7 (emerging in the UK) variant but that there is a decrease of neutralization ability to the B.1.351 variant (emerging in South Africa).
The data from clinical trials are more limited but in the Novavax phase 3 trial conducted in the UK where the B.1.1.7 variant had become dominant, the vaccine was 89% effective while in South Africa, where there was a predominance of the B.1.351 variant, the efficacy was 60%.
Data from Israel suggest that the BNT 162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine is effective at the population level in a country where the B.1.1.7 variant is now predominant. Source.