A SARS-CoV-2 outbreak associated with vaccine breakthrough in an acute care hospital Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: We aimed to analyze an outbreak caused by a vaccine breakthrough infection in a hospital with an active infection control program where 91.9% of health care workers were vaccinated. METHODS: We investigated a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak between September 9 and October 2, 2021, in a referral teaching hospital in Korea. We retrospectively collected data on demographics, vaccination history, transmission, and clinical features of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in patients, health care workers, and caregivers. RESULTS: During the outbreak, 94 individuals tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing. There were infections in 61 health care workers, 18 patients, and 15 caregivers; 74.5% (70/94) were vaccine breakthrough infections. Most transmissions appeared to be caused by three index cases, which accounted for 86.2% (81/94) of transmissions. Forty-seven (58.0%, 47/81) cases were associated with the hospital staff cafeteria and offices located in the basement. Among health care workers and caregivers, only one required oxygen supplementation. In contrast, among patients, there were four fatal cases (22.2%, 4/18), 3 of which were unvaccinated. CONCLUSIONS: Superspreading infection among fully vaccinated individuals occurred in an acute care hospital while the delta variant was dominant. Given the potential for severe complications, as this outbreak demonstrated, preventive measures including adequate ventilation should be emphasized to minimize transmission in hospitals.


  • Park, Se Yoon
  • Kim, Tae Hyong
  • Lee, Eunjung
  • Loeb, Mark
  • Jeong, Yeon Su
  • Kim, Jin Hwa
  • Oh, Sun Mi
  • Cheong, Sojin
  • Park, Hyein
  • Jo, SoYea
  • Sim, Ji Woo

publication date

  • September 2022