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Dr. Fauci Gives Your Chances of an Infection After Vaccine

Dr. Fauci explained breakthrough infections at the latest press briefing.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

As 100 million Americans remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, the Delta variant is spreading—and even vaccinated people are getting it. Should they be concerned? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke at the White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing yesterday to explain how concerned you should be about "breakthrough infections." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Dr. Fauci Said Infections After Vaccines are "Expected"

Sick woman with fever checking her temperature with a thermometer at home

Dr. Fauci spoke about the "occurrence of infection after full vaccination. What do we mean by that?" he asked. "That is the detection of" COVID-19 "14 days after completion of all recommended doses of what would be an FDA EUA authorized vaccine….Infections after vaccination are expected, no vaccine is 100% effective. However, even if a vaccine does not completely protect against infection, it usually if it's successful protects against serious disease."


Dr. Fauci Said This is What is Meant by a Successful Vaccine—and That Be Careful, None are 100% Effective

Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine

"When you think about vaccines being successful or unsuccessful, a failure, you really have to look at it in multiple subsets," said Dr. Fauci. "For example, one element of a successful vaccine in one, in which there's no illness, but there's no replication of the virus, no dissemination of the virus and clearance of the virus. That is something that is an unusual feat for a vaccine to give —truly what we call sterilizing immunity. Then there's also within the framework of a successful vaccine, one in which there's no clinical illness, but there is replication of the virus. It doesn't disseminate throughout the body….Another element of a successful vaccine is one in which they might be mild illness that really does not interfere with the function of a person. It has replication mild, very mild dissemination, but ultimately the virus is clear….So what we're talking about when we talk about infection after vaccination, which is clearly being discussed now in the context of the Delta variant, by no means, does that mean that you're dealing with an unsuccessful vaccine? The success of the vaccine is based on the prevention of illness." He noted that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are "95 and 94%" effective; J&J is 72% effective. But not 100%.


Dr. Fauci Said Get Vaccinated to Prevent Serious Disease

Young woman taking a vaccine from her doctor.

"What we're really dealing with is effectiveness against serious disease, leading to hospitalization, and in some cases, death, and since the Delta variant is now 83% in this country, it's the one we're dealing with. So even though we are seeing infections after vaccination referred commonly to as breakthrough infections, the effectiveness against the severe disease is still substantial, which is yet again, another argument which all of us say continually get vaccinated. It offers good protection against disease."


Dr. Fauci Was Not Able to Say if You'd Get Long COVID or Spread COVID After Vaccination

Tired woman lying in bed can't sleep late at night with insomnia

A reporter asked after Fauci spoke if it was possible to get Long COVID after vaccination. That can result in long-term fatigue, migraines, brain fog and other debilitating issues; an estimated 30% of unvaccinated people who got COVID got Long COVID. "That's an object of a very intensive study right now, following individuals with various levels of seriousness of disease as to what the incidents and prevalence will be of long COVID," said Dr. Fauci. "We don't have enough information right now to give you an accurate number of what that incidence is, but that's something that is being very actively followed right now." Fauci in the past has not been able to say exactly how much COVID you could spread to someone—say, your unvaccinated child—after vaccination.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Prevent Dementia, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta


How to Stay Safe Out There

Female Wearing Face Mask and Social Distancing

Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek