More than 10,000 COVID-19 booster breakthroughs - cause for concern?

The vaccines are still working. 10,600 out of four million people who received the third jab is only 0.27%.

 Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, October 3, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a temporary Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, October 3, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

There have been 10,600 people in Israel who have been fully vaccinated with three shots but still contracted COVID-19, the Health Ministry said.

Does this mean the vaccines are not working?

The opposite is true, health experts say: Those 10,600 out of four million people who received the third jab are only 0.27%.

“No one said that the vaccine is 100% able to stop infections,” stressed Prof. Cyrille Cohen, head of the immunology lab at Bar-Ilan University. 

Breakthrough infections always happen after vaccination, generally in people with weaker immune systems, such as the elderly or individuals with underlying medical conditions ranging from HIV to cancer. 

An illustrative photo of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)An illustrative photo of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

In addition, the Pfizer vaccines were not evaluated for preventing infection, but rather symptomatic or severe disease and death. And when it comes to these statistics, the vaccines – at least for now – seem to be doing their job.

As more people in Israel received a third jab, the number of daily cases rapidly started to decline. In the second half of August, Israel was averaging 8,300 daily cases. Today, it is averaging only 480.

The percentage of people testing positive for the virus has declined from an average of more than 5% to 0.56%.

And hospitalizations have gone down, too, hitting only 200 people on Friday – and 20% of patients are in mild condition. 

The Health Ministry showed that 12% of hospitalized people have been fully vaccinated, which was 23 people on Friday. In contrast, 80% of hospitalized individuals are unvaccinated, which was 160 people on Friday. 

But those numbers are even farther apart than they seem, when considering how many people are fully vaccinated versus not vaccinated in Israel. 

Twenty-three individuals out of four million vaccinated people means only 0.00057% were hospitalized. This should be compared to 160 people out of 700,000 unvaccinated individuals, which is 0.023%.

“There is no reason for alarm,” Cohen said.