What happens if you get sick after the vaccines?

Vaccines also protect you in the rare cases where you get infected anyway. The viral load is reduced, the fever less frequent, and it heals quickly.

We often talk about the effectiveness of vaccines in protecting against symptomatic forms of covid, much less than their other fundamental guarantees: the first is to avoid hospital admissions – all vaccines in circulation are completely effective against hospitalizations and deaths . The second is the protection that vaccines offer in case you fall ill after completing the vaccination course. A rare but not impossible possibility, because the immune system doesn’t work the same for everyone, and because no vaccine provides 100% coverage.

PROTECTED EVEN IN THE WORST CASE. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine explores precisely these secondary benefits of mRNA vaccines. And it does so by focusing on a group of people who are particularly at risk of contagion because they are often in contact with covid patients: workers in the health sector. According to the analysis coordinated by Mark G. Thompson, of the CDC in Atlanta (USA), if you still get sick after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, you do it with a reduced viral load, with a risk more than halved of having a fever and with the prospect of faster recovery.

POSITIVE SWABS. The team involved 3,975 people, mostly essential workers in the healthcare setting. From December 14, 2020 to April 10, 2021, participants underwent weekly swabs for SARS-CoV-2 research. The virus was detected in 204 people, five of whom were fully vaccinated (more than 14 days after the second dose), 11 partially vaccinated (more than 14 days after the first dose or less than 14 days after the second dose), and 156 unvaccinated. The 32 people with uncertain vaccination status were excluded from the study.

LESS CONTAGIOUS AND LESS SEVERE. Vaccines have confirmed, even in the real world and on highly exposed subjects, an efficacy of 91% after two doses, and 81% after one. In the vaccinated who nevertheless contracted the infection, the viral load (i.e. the number of copies of virus RNA present in a milliliter of biological material) was 40% lower than that found in the unvaccinated: excellent news, because this value is indicative of the probability of the positives to spread the pathogen in turn. In the infected vaccinated, the risk of febrile symptoms was 58% lower than in those who had not received the vaccines. And the duration of the illness was shorter, with 2.3 fewer days spent in bed.

As scientist Eric Topol explains on Twitter , the study is important because it is the largest available assessment of “breakthrough” infections (those that occur in vaccinated people). First, the frequency of these infections is very low, and even when they do occur, they cause far fewer symptoms and last less. And all of this concerns people highly exposed to the virus: in safer settings, it should be even better.


by Abdullah Sam
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