Will the vaccine really protect against infection?

Will the vaccine really protect against infection?

"Vaccination alone cannot defeat the virus": does vaccination protect against transmission of Covid-19

As the number of people vaccinated against Covid-19 grows in the world, more and more talk can be heard about an imminent victory over the epidemic, opening borders, restoring transport links and, in general, returning to normal life - as we knew it before the pandemic. However, even in rich countries where vaccinations are in full swing, WHO advises not only not to take off the masks, but also not to rush to lift other restrictive measures. How much the vaccine received protects against transmission of the virus - and when will the masks finally be removed?

Hidden threat
A month ago, when a 37-year-old patient in a Singaporean boarding school for people with mental disabilities was diagnosed with the coronavirus, the institution's management did not panic.

Given the specifics of the institution, all its staff and most of the fragile inhabitants were vaccinated against Covid-19 long ago as being at risk back in February-March. However, just in case, the boarding school was quarantined, and all employees, patients and other people who had recently communicated with the sick woman or her nurse were quarantined and began to be regularly tested.

Over the next week, the virus was detected in three dozen people, including the 30-year-old nurse from the Philippines, as well as four other boarding staff and 26 of its permanent residents.

Most of those infected were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (that is, they received both shots of the vaccine) and did not experience any symptoms at the time of diagnosis.

The vaccine does not provide complete, 100% protection against the virus, the WHO confirms. Even if you receive both doses of the vaccine and wait for the allotted time for the body's immune response to reach its maximum level, the chance of contracting Covid-19 still remains - especially for those who neglect other protective measures.

In addition, the response to vaccination is highly individual. In older people, as well as those suffering from chronic diseases or taking immunosuppressants, the body's defense response may be much less pronounced. This means that their risk of catching an infection is also higher after vaccination.

However, as numerous studies show, even if a vaccinated person falls ill with Covid-19, most often his infection proceeds without any symptoms or, less often, in a relatively mild form.

"Vaccinations save lives, but vaccination alone cannot solve the problem," the WHO is confident.

"The data available to date allows us to state with a high degree of confidence that when infected with Covid-19, the viral load in vaccinated people will be lower than that of unvaccinated people," says Barbara Richardson, professor at the Department of World Health at the University of Washington. a vaccinated person will infect an unvaccinated person, it will also be lower (although we cannot completely exclude the possibility of transmission of infection in this way). "

Nikolay Voronin
Science Correspondent