Some vaccinated people getting COVID — why that matters
It’s worrisome but there’s a very important silver lining.
You got vaccinated to protect yourself, your family and friends from COVID, but now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says with the Delta variant continuing to surge, breakthrough cases are becoming more common.
They also report the viral loads found in vaccinated people are about the same as in the unvaccinated.
But the vast majority of people who are vaccinated and test positive for COVID still don’t get seriously ill.
How is that possible?
Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the New Jersey Health Department, said it is unusual that someone who is vaccinated can wind up infecting someone else with the same viral load as someone who is unvaccinated, but then the vaccinated person usually doesn’t get sick at all.
He said in cases where vaccinated people have been found to have large viral loads, testing was performed using a nasal swab, which means the viral load was in the nose.
He pointed out what they’re not measuring is “how much of that virus is actually getting deeper in the body, the lungs and other part of the body that cause symptoms such as coughing."
"There is reason to suspect the host immune (system) built up because of the vaccine prevents the virus from penetrating more deeply," he said.
In other words, he said researchers believe the vaccine is blocking COVID from taking hold in most parts of the body.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that the highly transmissible Delta variant is much more infectious that the original strain of COVID.
She noted it’s still rare for those who have been vaccinated to test positive for COVID, but if that happens, you are still more than 99.99% protected from serious illness and “vaccines are our most powerful tool that we have to end this pandemic.”
Persichilli added Garden State health officials are continuing to strongly recommend “that everyone should wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high transmission, regardless of your vaccination status.”
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced updated data was collected following multiple large public indoor and outdoor events during July in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where 669 COVID cases were identified, and nearly three quarters of the cases occurred among those who were fully vaccinated.
Testing revealed the Delta variant was responsible for 90% of the infections, and those who were vaccinated and tested positive had viral loads similar to those who were not vaccinated, but illness rates among the unvaccinated were much higher than those who had received the shot.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com