'90% Chance' You Can't Get Covid This Way, Health Expert Says
One of the uncertainties about the COVID-19 vaccines is whether they only prevent illness or also prevent vaccinated people from harboring the virus and passing it along. But there's now an "80% to 90% chance" that vaccinated people don't transmit the virus, a top health expert said just last month. And the CDC has weighed in too. Read on to learn how these new insights can influence safety guidelines—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.
If You're Vaccinated, You're 80-90% More Safe
If true, that could have significant implications for COVID safety guidelines. Because of the ambiguity about transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that vaccinated people wear a face mask and practice social distancing whenever they're in public.
"What we know right now is if you are exposed [to COVID-19] after full vaccination, you're very, very, very unlikely to get sick, and you're pretty unlikely to transmit it to others," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, on ABC's This Week. "That transmission data isn't foolproof yet, but all the evidence so far suggests that your likelihood of passing it on to somebody else is, probably down 80%, 90%, compared to if you weren't vaccinated." Keep reading to see what he says is a "very low risk" activity you can do—music to our ears.
"Very Low Risk" For Fully Vaccinated to Mingle With Family
Jha also said that family members who have taken only their first dose of a two-dose vaccine may be able to safely gather with other family who are fully vaccinated. "I think you're pretty safe, as long as there's no one in your family who's a particularly high risk, no one with a severe health problem," he said. "I think it is safe, and the CDC has come out and said as much."
He added: "I think the bottom line that people have to know is that we're not going to get to zero risk, but at that point when people are fully vaccinated, mingling with a family, there's really a very, very low risk that anything bad is going to happen."
More Gatherings May Be Safe This Summer
Jha also gave an optimistic view for this summer, saying that Americans may be able to safely socialize beyond outdoor gatherings with family. "I do think we're looking at a wider opening" of the country, he said. "I think the question is, will everything that we used to do in 2019 be safe? My take is, even by July 4th, my expectation is that some proportion of Americans will have chosen not to get vaccinated. So they're still going to be at risk, and we probably should avoid those large indoor gatherings where we know the virus is spread more efficiently.
"But short of that, I do think we can do a lot more. It's not just small family gatherings. We could have friends over, we can have probably larger gatherings indoors, especially if everybody is vaccinated."
What the CDC Says
- "We know that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 disease, especially severe illness and death.
○ We're still learning how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others.
- We know that other prevention steps help stop the spread of COVID-19, and that these steps are still important, even as vaccines are being distributed.
○ We're still learning how well COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the disease.
○ Early data show that the vaccines may help keep people from spreading COVID-19, but we are learning more as more people get vaccinated.
We're still learning how long COVID-19 vaccines can protect people."
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.