Getting Vaccinated For COVID. We’re Not Really Safe Until Everyone Is:
So the world has been gripped by the Coronavirus pandemic for almost a year now.
And through that time, we’ve mostly learned to follow the right health-safety practices that protect other people according to the CDC.
By some kind of miracle, we got 2 COVID vaccines in just over 8 months, and 2 more on-deck shortly thereafter.
Even better, people are starting to get vaccinated in increasing numbers and case-counts are falling for the moment.
But even with people getting their shots, another spectre may be popping-up…
The Short Answer:
- People are finally getting vaccinated and case-counts are falling.
- But remember the summer & fall holidays when they went back up?
- It’s because people were less cautious.
- We’re still not sure how well the current vaccines work.
- They range from 66% to 95% effective.
- But perhaps, someone can be vaccinated but still contagious.
- Like a slightly-different version of an Asymptomatic Carrier.
- The current vaccines may not get your body to completely kill all copies of the virus in you.
- This state is called “Sterilizing Immunity”.
- It might be possible for vaccinated people who aren’t sick to still spread live virus to others.
- Especially if they engage in risky behaviors.
- It also takes time; approximately 2 weeks after your second shot to achieve full protection.
- The gold-standard for pandemic immunity from vaccination is called “Herd Immunity”.
- Dr. Fauci predicts we will not have that in the US until the middle of summer.
- The more contagious UK variant of COVID will become the dominant strain in the US 4 months before that.
- So we will probably have to wear our masks & keep to the CDC’s best practices until July.
Read on to find out the details…
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So what was the problem we all had in 2020 from holidays in warm weather?
People threw caution to the wind, went outside in close quarters, and infected each other.
We even had basically the same problem with another huge surge after Thanksgiving.
With the number of waves, case-counts, and deaths stunning even the most wary virologists.
But with “effective” vaccines going into arms, those people are “safe” now right?
The problem we have now is, even with the Biden administration getting as aggressive as they can about the virus,
With their plan to use all available doses to get first-shots into arms.
And hope that production catches up by the time everyone needs their second shot 3-4 weeks later.
We don’t exactly know all of the different ways in which the current vaccines work.
Here’s how the details of that turn-out.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use almost the same mechanism and are about 95% effective.
The AstraZeneca one is a little less so, between 66-85% depending on the situation and strain.
And even though guys like Dr. Michael Osterholm said at the beginning of the pandemic,
That even a 50% effective vaccine would still help immensely,
The real risk occurs related to a few previous posts.
We know from them that
1) Total cases are under-reported so much that the real number is probably 10x higher.
2) Asymptomatic Carriers are a big problem.
The second is a group of people who don’t have symptoms but are still sick and infect other people.
They are likely a big part of the first item, affected people who never report in sick.
And people like them can represent potential faults in the vaccines.
Because just like college-students becoming super-spreaders because they’re asymptomatic,
A person who is vaccinated and asymptomatic can still be sick too!
How the hell does that work?
It comes down to a persnickety scientific term called, “Sterilizing Immunity”.
People who have sterilizing immunity have been vaccinated and have a response that’s strong enough to completely kill every copy of the virus in their bodies.
Their systems do this so effectively, that when they sneeze or breathe, or touch things,
No living and dangerous copies of the virus are present.
*BUT that may not be true with any of the COVID vaccines we have now.
Because honestly, Science just does not yet know.
The virus doctors in-question have no idea if anyone who’s vaccinated is shedding zero live copies of the virus.
So breathing, yelling, touching things, being in crowds, all the risk factors could still apply in insidious ways.
Not only that, but there are the Numbers.
Two weeks after a person receives their first dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine,
They are only about 50% immune to COVID.
Then even two weeks after they receive their 2nd shot, the numbers say they’re still only a maximum of 95% protected.
So after your first shot, you’re not -Immediately- immune and non-contagious.
Does that then mean that 1 month & 2 weeks after your first shot you’re set and you can go wild?
As Dr. Fauci has talked about, the other “Gold Standard” we have in big disease outbreaks like this is called,
-When so many people are either naturally-immune, or vaccinated, that transmission of the disease in any way becomes much less possible.
And his best forecast for that day is the middle of the summer, either June or July.
That still depends on Moderna and Pfizer catching up with the Biden production schedule.
-Which may not be a guarantee.
And then to confound matters more, the more-contagious UK variant of COVID is set to become the dominant strain in the US,
Somewhere before the end of March.
So then how do we know that a person who’s vaccinated might not catch that variant,
But still throw off enough live copies of an even-more infectious version of the disease,
Even though they are effectively an Asymptomatic Carrier who doesn’t know they’re doing it?
There’s no guarantee they won’t.
Especially since people have already had problems being cautious and following the protocols before the vaccine,
They might be a lot less so after vaccination.
So what that all adds up to, is in order to protect each other even though it seems very counterintuitive,
We all probably have to keep wearing our masks, social distancing, hand-washing and all the other stuff,
Right through the middle of summer if we are to protect our friends, neighbors, and countrymen from getting sick with COVID.
It’s not immediately-obvious, but even with post-pandemic vaccinations, the devil really is in the details!
• Source Studies:
Lancet – Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine efficacy
NEJM – Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine
• More Coverage: NPR | CDC – New Covid Variants List | UK Covid Cases Graphs | CNN