More and more people who have been vaccinated are infected with Corona, fall ill with Covid-19 and end up in intensive care. Reports like this unsettle many and raise doubts about the effectiveness of the vaccines. FOCUS Online explains what is behind these numbers and why the vaccines continue to protect very well despite increased vaccination breakthroughs.
Frequency of vaccination breakthroughs
Every fourth person who contracted Covid-19 between the beginning of September and the beginning of October was vaccinated. This emerges from the latest weekly report from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which refers to the dates of calendar weeks 36 to 39.
The RKI calls these cases so-called “probable vaccination breakthroughs”. These are defined as follows: as a Sars-CoV-2 infection with clinical symptomsdiagnosed in fully vaccinated individuals using a PCR test or pathogen isolation.
Such cases occurred with varying frequency in the three weeks mentioned, depending on the age group. Fully vaccinated were among the Covid sufferers during this period
- 2.2 percent of the 12 to 17Year olds
- 28.4 percent of the 18 to 59Year olds and
- 52.6 percent of those over 60Year olds.
On average were so 27.6 percent of corona patients vaccinated, more than one in four. The value is even higher for the elderly: 31.6 percent of adults Covid patients were vaccinated – almost one in three.
Does that mean the vaccines aren’t working that well after all? No. Infectiologist Christoph Spinner made this clear in an interview with FOCUS Online. Looking at the latest data, he explains: “Fortunately, it has been shown that the vaccine protection, especially against severe Covid-19 courses, is very good.” Depending on the vaccine, this is more than 80 or even 90 percent.
The main reason why vaccination breakthroughs occur is that the basic immunization of the vaccination does not provide sufficient training of the immune system for certain people. “As a rule, pre-existing illnesses play a role here,” explains the senior physician for infectious diseases from the Klinikum rechts der Isar in Munich. Other patients also take medication to prevent an excessive immune response due to a previous illness.
Frequency of hospitalizations for vaccinated persons
A look at the RKI data also shows that vaccinated people do get sick, but that adults in particular are less likely to get sick.
Fully vaccinated under the hospitalized Covid sufferers were in this period
- 2.7 percent of the 12 to 17Year olds
- 13.3 percent of the 18 to 59Year olds and
- 36.8 percent of those over 60Year olds.
Only the value for children is slightly higher here.
Frequency of intensive treatments in vaccinated persons
However, so far none of the vaccinated children have had to be treated intensively.
Fully vaccinated were among the Intensive care patients treated with Covid during this period
- 0.0 percent of 12 to 17 year olds
- 7.7 percent of the 18 to 59Year olds and
- 24.1 percent of those over 60Year olds.
Frequency of deaths among vaccinated persons
Vaccinated adults under the age of 60 also died significantly less often than those who were not vaccinated. They make up a minimal percentage of deaths. According to the data, vaccinated children and adolescents also did not die as a result of an infection.
Under the deceased Covid sufferers were fully vaccinated during this period
- 0.0 percent of 12 to 17Year olds
- 1.9 percent of the 18 to 59Year olds and
- 33.0 percent of those over 60Year olds.
“If you look at the percentage of vaccine breakthroughs in all Covid-19 cases over the entire course of the pandemic, it becomes clear that only a small proportion of hospitalized, intensive care units or deceased Covid-19 cases can be assessed as vaccination breakthroughs,” he says RKI position on the data mentioned.
Among the 722 who have died so far with breakthroughs in vaccination, around 75 percent were 80 years or older. “Because the vaccination rate is still very low in this age group, there is an increased risk of bias,” it explains in its weekly report. This reflects the generally higher risk of death – regardless of the effectiveness of the vaccines – for this age group.
So well protect the vaccines against severe courses and hospital
On the basis of this data, the RKI also evaluates the general vaccination effectiveness, i.e. the effectiveness for the age groups from 18 to 59 years and over 60 years. The vaccines ultimately protect as follows:
- Protection against hospitalization: approx. 92 percent (age 18-59 years) or approx. 88 percent (age ≥ 60 years)
- Protection against treatment in the intensive care unit: approx. 95 percent (age 18-59 years) or approx. 93 percent (age group ≥ 60 years)
- Protection from death: approx. 99 percent (age 18-59 years) or approx. 90 percent (age ≥ 60 years)
The RKI does not yet calculate the vaccination effectiveness for the age group 12-17 years. Due to the very low vaccination rate in this age group, there is an increased risk of bias.
„In summary, the number of likely vaccine breakthroughs as well as the effectiveness of the vaccines used, as estimated by the screening method, confirm the high effectiveness from the clinical studies, ”explains the RKI. “It is to be expected that more vaccination breakthroughs will be recorded over time, as more and more people are vaccinated and Sars-CoV-2 is currently spreading again more and more.” This increases the likelihood of coming into contact with the virus as a fully vaccinated person .
“Despite vaccinations, it will not be possible to achieve sufficient vaccination protection for all vaccinated people,” says Christoph Spinner, summarizing the data. For this reason, the infectiologist advocates the third booster dose recommended by Stiko for risk groups. Anyone who runs the risk of suffering a severe course should be vaccinated against corona a third time.