More and more cases of fully vaccinated individuals getting infected with COVID-19 are emerging.
Surely, this means that vaccines are ineffective, right?
See, while some coronavirus variants may be able to break through the defences of COVID-19 vaccines, these vaccines can still successfully perform its main function: preventing people from getting severely ill from the disease.
And that’s the message the Ministry of Health (MOH) has stressed to the public.
MOH Emphasises That Vaccinations Still Help to Protect Against New COVID-19 Variants
To demonstrate this point, MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak used the example of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) cluster, which is our biggest active cluster at the moment.
Of the 40 cases in the cluster (as of the time of writing), the nine who had received full doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were either asymptomatic or exhibited mild symptoms. Seven were staff while the other two were patients, and none of them required oxygen support.
This was not the case with those who did not receive vaccinations. The remaining 31 cases were either partially vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. Of those unvaccinated, seven required oxygen therapy.
One of them was an 88-year-old female patient in Ward 9D who sadly died of COVID-19 complications last Saturday.
Vaccines Relatively Effective Against New Strains
One of the main concerns of the new COVID-19 strains, besides their transmissibility, is whether vaccines can protect us against them.
It was recently discovered that five of the cases in the TTSH cluster were carrying the B.1.617.2 variant which originated in India.
Prof Mak said that the vaccine appears to have done relatively well against it, however.
“In those who had received full vaccination, they had demonstrated evidence of antibodies to the spike protein of the virus, which is a good response to vaccination, he said.
Without Vaccines, TTSH Cluster Would Have Been Bigger
40 COVID-19 infections linked to a hospital cluster is bad enough, but if not for vaccinations, Prof Mak believes it could have been even worse.
“The presence of these viral variants of concern amongst our local cases affirms our strategy to vaccinate all healthcare workers and prioritise vaccination for older Singaporeans,” he said.
“Had we not done so, the TTSH cluster would have been significantly larger at this time, and the likelihood of that cluster getting out of control that much greater.”
He added that this is a reminder that all of us need to get vaccinated and that we cannot afford to get complacent.
Well, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt during the course of the pandemic, is that complacence is always punished harshly.
This is why it’s important to stick to the new COVID-19 measures in place, get vaccinated, and seek medical attention if you’re ill.
Feature Image: CEPTAP / Shutterstock.com