What’s behind omicron breakthrough cases? AU doc explains

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 8:08 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2022 at 12:14 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Between Augusta University Health and University Hospital’s 205 COVID inpatients, 69 patients are vaccinated.

It’s not as simple as it was once was.

Your risk for contracting COVID-19 with the omicron variant depends on age, health and how many times you’ve been poked with a needle.

We’re talked to local doctors on Friday about breakthrough cases.

“Those antibodies are being invaded by omicron regardless of if it’s vaccinated immunity or natural immunity. That is an unfortunate fact,” said Dr. Joshua Wyche at AU Health.

The highly contagious omicron variant is infecting the unvaccinated, and the vaccinated too.

“Those breakthrough cases are more prevalent and at a higher rate with omicron than they have been with any other variant,” he said.

Most of those in the hospital have specific characteristics.

They’re over 65, overweight, or suffer from diseases such as lung or kidney disease.

Wyche says those groups really need a booster vaccination.

“Their outcomes are far better if they’re vaccinated and are far better if they are vaccinated and boosted,” he said.

Wyche advises it for everyone because two doses just might not be enough.

In a study done by Pfizer in early December, experts found that while the first two doses stack up well against the original COVID strain, the protection weakens with omicron.

However, with a booster, you gain back 25 times more protection against omicron.

“An individual who has had the prime series but is not boosted is not going to have the same level of antibodies,” said Wyche.

While boosters are best, natural immunity does help, too.

Despite the breakthrough cases, vaccines still do their job which is to prevent severe infection and death from COVID.

“Natural immunity, vaccinated immunity, is better than no immunity,” said Wyche.

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