The so-called breakthrough COVID-19 cases are one in five new infections in Korea. Breakthrough infections refer to cases, where fully vaccinated people test positive for COVID-19 two weeks after their second dose of immunization (first shot for Janssen vaccine). According to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters on Wednesday, 2,768 out of 13,280 confirmed COVID-19 cases (aged over 18) in the fourth week of September were breakthrough infections.
Breakthrough infections accounted for 4 percent in the fourth week of July, but the rate has surged five times in two months. Experts say the rate of breakthrough infections naturally rises as the rate of fully vaccinated people increases, dismissing concerns about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. “Breakthrough infections will rise as the country’s vaccination rate increases,” said Jeong Ki-seok, a pulmonology professor at Hallym University Medical Center. “For example, if the country’s vaccination rate reaches 100 percent, the rate of breakthrough infections among new cases will also hit 100 percent.”
Based on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, the government is preparing to introduce “living with COVID-19” strategy at the end of October at the earliest. With the fourth wave of COVID-19 not showing signs of letting up, however, there are concerns about the government’s “living with COVID-19” strategy. Health authorities predicted that new COVID-19 cases could reach 5,000 by the end of this month if the current situation worsens.
According to the data submitted by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency to the office of Rep. Baek Jong-heon of the People Power Party, the KDCA predicts that there would be around 5,000 confirmed cases a day by the end of this month and more than 5,000 cases a day by the end of Nov if the fourth wave of COVID-19 worsens. Health authorities say the current medical system can handle 3,000 to 3,500 COVID-19 cases per day and plan to prepare for an increase in new cases by expanding home treatment.