The vaccines that have received emergency use authorizations in recent months are highly effective at blocking severe cases of COVID-19 and saving lives. The efficacy was even higher than initial estimates for some vaccines, with recent studies showing that the vaccines are working just as expected in real-world use.
Countries like Israel and the UK have released various studies highlighting the effectiveness of these drugs and their direct effect on local coronavirus outbreaks. The most recent research from Pfizer and BioNTech is the first to indicate that vaccines can prevent asymptomatic transmission, which is a significant development for the drug.
But none of the various vaccines that are used in the US and elsewhere are 100% effective. People are still at risk of symptomatic infection, including a severe COVID-19 experience after vaccination. These are the “breakthrough” cases that have already appeared. A teacher from Texas who tested positive for the novel coronavirus after receiving her complete vaccine regimen explained what she might have done wrong after immunization, stressing that health measures, including face masks, are still essential even after getting both shots.
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“There is this, this freedom and this joy that comes with getting vaccinated,” Paige Crain told KXAN of her vaccine experience. She received the Moderna vaccine, finishing the treatment in February. “I felt like for the first time in a year I could, you know, take a sip of water under my mask — which I wasn’t doing before.”
Crain says that for the most part, she was still being careful. But she still got infected. The diagnosis surprised her a couple of weeks later when a minor cold turned out to be COVID-19.
“I did not expect it to be positive at all,” she said. The teacher qualified for the vaccine thanks to an underlying condition. The vaccine gave her peace of mind, she said. Even though she contracted the illness, her COVID-19 case isn’t severe.
“It’s not as scary as it would have been; I’m not thinking that I’m going to have to go to the hospital in the next minute,” she said.“It’s not as bad as it could have been, but I’m still sick, and it’s still a burden to where we’re having to figure out child care and my husband’s watching the kids, and we can’t have the grandparents helping right now.”
It’s not unexpected to see some fully vaccinated individuals end up getting COVID-19. The Moderna vaccine is 95% effective, and that’s according to data from a clinical trial done at a time when there were no coronavirus mutations that could evade the action of vaccines. The South African and Brazilian variants can evade antibodies to some degree, and vaccine updates are in the works for them.
We don’t know which coronavirus variant Crain contracted. Even without variants, about 5% of people who get the Moderna drug will be infected. Face masks and social distancing can help reduce the risk of disease, regardless of whether a person is vaccinated or whether the vaccine developed the desired immune response.
Texas and other states lifted mask mandates a few days ago, prompting warnings from health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. They warned that a COVID-19 resurgence is possible, and states should not relax safety measures too quickly.
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