Omikron causes breakthrough infections, but no one can say how much: “For labs an impossible task”

The worst-case scenarios have not materialized, but omikron is raging. Between 14 and 20 January, an average of 44,104 new infections were registered daily, an increase of no less than 71 percent compared to the previous week.

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Given the high vaccination rate in our country, and especially in Flanders, these infections also include a lot of breakthrough infections. These are infections in which vaccinated and even boosted people still get infected. But what is the share of these breakthrough infections in the corona figures?

“That is not systematically tracked or counted,” says virologist Marc Van Ranst. “It is impossible for labs to link positive tests to the vaccination status of people. The privacy rules also do not allow that.”

“You can only get such data in the context of studies, and in the case of omikron they are, to my knowledge, not yet underway. Especially not in our country. If you read or hear somewhere that vaccine X after Y doses protects that much percent against a certain variant, then that is an extrapolation from smaller studies.”

Such research is not easy today. “Because it concerns very sensitive personal data, it always has to pass an ethics committee. Given the speed of this pandemic, that is often too slow.” (adm)