The global effort to vaccinate people against SARS-CoV-2 in the midst of an ongoing pandemic has raised questions about the nature of vaccine breakthrough infections and the potential for vaccinated individuals to transmit the virus. These questions have become even more urgent as new variants of concern with enhanced transmissibility, such as Delta, continue to emerge. To shed light on how vaccine breakthrough infections compare with infections in immunologically naive individuals, we examined viral dynamics and infectious virus shedding through daily longitudinal sampling in a small cohort of adults infected with SARS-CoV-2 at varying stages of vaccination. The durations of both infectious virus shedding and symptoms were significantly reduced in vaccinated individuals compared with unvaccinated individuals. We also observed that breakthrough infections are associated with strong tissue compartmentalization and are only detectable in saliva in some cases. These data indicate that vaccination shortens the duration of time of high transmission potential, minimizes symptom duration, and may restrict tissue dissemination.
The vaccines do not stop people getting COvid-19, but the vaccianted are less likely to contract the disease and if they do they are less likely to infect others and less likely to become seriously ill.
But are they safe?
“The way we eliminate this virus is vaccination,” Le Gros said. . .
This vaccine is the safest vaccine I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Le Gros’ confidence in the vaccine comes from seeing the “rigerous” testing and monitoring it has undergone since being released, he said.
The vaccine is monitored both globally by health authorities who report on it. He says providers also do interior testing while also seeing if there are any effects for numerous demographics including the elderly and those with asthma.
“It drives a scientist like me nuts with how rigorous [testing the vaccine] is,” Le Gros said.
“It doesn’t just stop with looking at the data once, they are forever monitoring in what they call ‘phase four’ of the trial.” . .
Why do so many people still question the efficacy and safety of the vaccines?
Despite the constant monitoring, Le Gros conceded there is misinformation spreading about the vaccine through numerous channels making it more difficult for New Zealand to hit its vaccination targets.
It’s an issue Dr Vanisi Prescott has been trying to tackle on social media with informative videos on platforms such as Tik Tok, but she told Breakfast it’s an uphill battle.
“It’s heartbreaking seeing our most vulnerable communities being effected by this misinformation,” Prescott said. “There’s so much misinformation out there and it’s difficult to decipher what information to actually listen to.
“The issue with social media is that it doesn’t differentiate truth from rumour and it’s become such an issue that it’s caused a lot of animosity and division as well as anxiety and fear among our people.”
Prescott said she understands people have their reasons if they choose not to get vaccinated but misinformation from social media shouldn’t be one of them.
“Social media masks the fact that there have been a vast majority of studies and medical opinion out there to confirm that this is a safe vaccine and good for all of us.
“Try not to rely on what we see out there but trust in sources or people you trust in like your GP.”
Prescott added she has extra motivation for informing those who are both vulnerable to the virus and misinformation.
“With me being a Tongan GP, I stand firmly in terms of my culture and my values and that is to respect, love and care for my patients – I wouldn’t be standing in front of everyone advocating for a vaccine if we didn’t know it was safe. . .“
Charlie Mitchell’s three weeks down the misinformation rabbit hole of dangerous misinformation shows how easy it is to find misinformation and views that foster fears.
There’s lots to be said for not taking everything that comes from official sources as gospel, for questioning and challenging authorities and for doing your own research.
But that doesn’t mean thinking something you find by googling should carry more weight than the data and evidence resulting from scientific rigor by qualified people with experience in the field.