Hospitals see rare COVID-19 cases in fully vaccinated patients

.(Live 5)
Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 6:34 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Although rare, Lowcountry Hospitals are seeing some patients come down with the coronavirus even after being fully vaccinated.

At best, current approved Coronavirus vaccines can have up to a 95 percent success rate in preventing disease, but for those who still get the virus afterwards, the Department of Health and Environmental Control, calls these “Breakthrough” cases.

DHEC has identified 134 vaccine breakthrough cases across the state, that’s less than 0.5 percent of everyone who has received full vaccine doses.

Over the past month, Roper St. Francis Healthcare has treated four patients in the hospital and know of 10 other “Breakthrough” cases that did not need hospitalization.

“So if every six out of 100 who get a vaccine developed infection or disease, we should see a rare instance of that I think that’s what we are witnessing,” infectious disease physician Dr. Kent Stock said.

Stock said age is a factor and out of those who were hospitalized, most were in their 80s and 90s.

“You would speculate that the very old are less likely to respond to any kind of vaccination and therefore may not generate protective antibodies,” Stock said.

The Medical University of South Carolina is reporting seven coronavirus cases in fully vaccinated people.

As more people get vaccinated, recent studies by the New England Journal of Medicine show the actual number of vaccine failures, or “Breakthrough cases” to be around one percent.

Also, a new ‘Real world’ study released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control shows the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines around 90 percent effective in preventing infections on a mass scale.

Stock said he wants to know if COVID-19 variant strains could be impacting how many people get sick despite being vaccinated.

To find out, he said Roper Hospital is working with DHEC to analyze positive test results.

“All of these individuals we identity who get infected or even hospitalized despite receiving two doses, that virus will be sent on to DHEC for further analysis,” Stock said. “The question is, is that phenomenon influencing these numbers?”

It’s a question, too early to answer.

“What intrigues me is obviously if any of this is attributable to the variants out there,” Stock said.

Still, state and local health officials say approved vaccines continue to prove highly effective.

“The vaccines have been tremendously effective and one of the primary reasons were seeing a decrease in hospitalizations across the country,” Stock said.

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