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Post-vaccination breakthrough infection rate in India not more than 0.04%: ICMR

Only "two to four per 10,000 post vaccination breakthrough infections" were recorded in India, ICMR chief Balram Bhargava said, adding that "this is a very small number".

April 21, 2021 / 10:30 PM IST

The post-vaccination breakthrough infection rate in India for COVID-19 is not more than 0.04 percent, as per the data shared by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on April 21.

The contraction of virus after being inoculated with a single or both doses of the vaccine is referred to as post-vaccination breakthrough infection, ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava explained. "The numbers are very small in India," he said at the Union health ministry's press briefing.

Out of around 1.1 crore beneficiaries administered with Covaxin - the vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech - 4,208 (0.04 percent) were found infected after the first dose and 695 (0.04 percent) tested positive after receiving the second dose.

Among 11.6 crore recipients of Covishield - the vaccine manufactured by Pune's Serum Institute of India (SII) - 17,145 (0.02 percent) tested positive after receiving the first dose and 5,014 (0.03 percent) were detected with the coronavirus infection after the second dose.

Also read: COVID-19 vaccine | Serum Institute's Covishield priced at Rs 400 per dose for states; Rs 600/dose for private hospitals

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Only "two to four per 10,000 post vaccination breakthrough infection" were recorded in India, Bhargava added. Those who were tested positive after receiving the doses were mostly frontline workers and healthcare workers - the first to be vaccinated - "who are prone to more occupational exposure", he further said.

The data shared by the ICMR is expected to address the hesitancy shown by a section of eligible beneficiaries against the COVID-19 vaccines. The central and state governments have appealed to the beneficiaries, particularly those who are vulnerable due to their age or co-morbidities, to receive the jabs at the earliest.

Across India, the overall vaccination coverage crossed 13 crore on April 21. The demand for vaccine is expected to shoot up from May 1, as all adults would be eligible to receive the doses. The current phase of inoculation drive barred those below the age of 45 - unless they were categorised as healthcare or frontline workers.

According to Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the government's prioritised approach in the immunisation drive has yielded success as around 87 percent of health workers and 79 percent of frontline workers have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines. The two groups are considered to be at the maximum risk of contracting the infection.

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