Doubly vaxxed? You could still be a coronavirus carrier

Express News Service
BENGALURU: The Centre for Disease Control recently changed its testing guidelines for the double-dose vaccinated, and made it mandatory for them too to be tested, if exposed to Covid-19. Health experts in India warn that those who are fully vaccinated should be extra mindful of not just breakthrough infections and transmission of infection, but also know that vaccinated people could play a key role in transmission.

“People were waiting for the vaccine. Once they took both shots, risk-taking behaviour like moving out, meeting people, not wearing masks etc has gone up. In some areas with low transmission or low seropositivity till now, it could result in sustained transmission of the infection to another individual who is not vaccinated,” said Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, epidemiologist, policy and vaccine expert.He explains that this could even be the reason why some metropolitan cities are seeing a high number of infections in high-rise buildings, where most residents are double-vaccinated but socio-economic engagements are happening. 

Agreeing with this and expressing concern on breakthrough infections, Dr Giridhara Babu R, senior epidemiologist and member of the Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee says, “It is the responsibility of vaccinated people to protect those who do not have the privilege of getting vaccinated yet. Vaccination does not mean they’re immune to the infection. It only means they’re protected against death or hospitalisation, if they get infected. Therefore, vaccinated persons should adhere to strict masking, and follow other Covid-appropriate behaviour that minimises risk.” 

Explaining the reason for such transmission, Dr S N Aravinda, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Aster RV Hospital, says, “Some individuals may not have sufficient antibody response to the vaccine, and antibodies post vaccination do not stay permanently, which is why booster shots are required after a certain period of time. However, with new variants of concern, the vaccine itself may not be sufficient for protection from all mutations of Covid. While the virus has minimal effect on those who are fully vaccinated, and they are asymptomatic, they can still be carriers of the virus and spread it to other people who are more at risk.”

If taking vaccination leads to reckless behaviour and people stop wearing masks, hand hygiene and social distancing, it will lead to a higher risk of virus mutations and its continued spread, and prolong the pandemic, he adds. 

Following Covid-appropriate behaviour is most important, says Dr Brunda, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital. “Along with vaccination, following Covid-appropriate behaviour such as regular hand washing, social distancing and wearing of masks at all times is the key to curtail infections. People should not get complacent and must follow self-discipline.”