Last week we had a patient test positive for COVID-19 weeks after receiving two doses of a vaccine. This patient was also positive for COVID-19 in September/October of 2020 and has had several negative tests since recovering. Oh my goodness, “Ma, hide the kids!” Everyone take a deep breath. There are several reasons this could happen.
First and foremost, none of the vaccines out there (and there are many more than Moderna and Pfizer) are 100 percent effective. There will always be a small percentage of the population who will still acquire the disease they are being vaccinated for. Additionally, you do not receive the second dose of the vaccination one day and become COVID invincible the next. Vaccinations work by making your body believe some type of foreign invader has gotten inside the gates and it reacts by building up immunity against the invader. This takes time. Experts say anywhere from 14 days to two months along with the caveat that “everyone is different”, which means it may be longer for some to develop a sufficient immune response.
The purpose of the vaccine is to cause your body to develop immunity to the virus, it does not prevent you from coming in contact with the virus. The patient we tested is asymptomatic this time after being very sick the first time. Perhaps the natural immunity from the first episode in October, or early vaccine developed immunity, may help ward off any symptoms. We know that some people get exposed to the virus before they receive the vaccination and display symptoms after. The vaccines being used in the US do not contain any live virus. You will not test positive for the virus on a RT-PCR test because you had the vaccine. However, if one was to have an antibody test several months after having the vaccination, there is a chance the test may be positive. We still do not know definitively how the vaccine will affect antibody tests.
Finally, although the experts feel confident that the vaccines are very effective against preventing the disease, they do not know how effective they are against preventing infection. In other words, you may still be able to have the SARS-CoV-2 virus in your nares and potentially spread it, without having the COVID-19 disease. The bottom line is, nobody knows for sure at this time if a vaccinated individual can still spread the disease. Therefore continuing preventative measures, as if you have not been vaccinated, is recommended. Masks, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, and GREAT hygiene are still the norm. You will notice I use a lot of non- definitive words. “We think, experts feel, there is the chance, you may, etc.” As I have stated prior, COVID-19 is an ever-changing target and the quickly developed vaccinations are no exception.
Remember to take one day at a time. Think, read and educate yourself daily. Please stay safe and do something nice for someone today. Thank you all for your business.
President/CEO Industry Lab Diagnostic Partners