The COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be highly effective and is generally hailed as a huge success. However, an extremely small percentage of people who have had both vaccines may still get the virus. As with all medication, the vaccine can never be regarded as 100% effective, but it has been noted that those who have suffered “vaccine breakthrough cases” have experienced far milder symptoms, with some being asymptomatic and virus only presenting itself during random testing. With more variants being found, experts continue to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Large-scale clinical trials have been conducted worldwide, and the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) are as effective as real-world conditions. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has also been proven to be highly effective, although to a slightly lesser degree than the mRNA vaccines. Research for vaccines such as Sinovac and Sputnik V is still at an early stage. The countries developing these vaccines are reluctant to release data to independent organisations such as the WHO.

Why might fully-vaccinated people get COVID?

After receiving the vaccine, most people who have developed COVID-19 have done so when they have either had one dose, or it has been within the first three weeks of having the second dose. The reason for this is because he has not had a chance to build up full immunity. As new variants occur, there is a possibility that they will become resistant to the vaccine, although, at the time of writing, the vaccine has been proven to work against all known variants.

Is it guaranteed that my symptoms will be less severe?

There is no guarantee that you will suffer less severe symptoms if you have been fully vaccinated, but the symptoms will be less severe for most people. However, some fully vaccinated have been hospitalised, and a small percentage died, although most had other underlying medical conditions. Centres for Disease Control (CDC) states that “fully vaccinated people are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than people with similar risk factors who are not vaccinated.”

The CDC is trying to establish if there are any patterns to the breakthrough cases.

All breakthrough cases are carefully monitored by the CDC and other bodies, including Public Health England. The objective is to establish any patterns such as the vaccine used, age, sex or which variant made them ill. Again, at the time of writing, no patterns have been detected and described as “anomalies”, but research continues.

Should I have the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines are still viewed as being the best weapon in beating or at least controlling the virus. Most people believe that the faster the world can become immunised, the greater the chance that our lives will return to normal. Countries such as the UK have now announced that they believe that COVID-19 should be treated like flu. In the future, with people requiring to be immunised but expect that there will still be some hospitalisations and deaths. In the short term, it appears that an increasing number of countries accept that COVID-19 is something that we must learn to live with.