Here's the truth about people who get COVID-19 even after being vaccinated

Here's the truth about people who get COVID-19 even after being vaccinated
DC Firefighter and EMT Gerald Bunn receives a COVID-19 vaccine from RN Elizabeth Galloway during an event with President Joe Biden, celebrating the 50 millionth COVID-19 vaccination Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

President Joe Biden has promised that COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all residents of the United States by May 1, saying that his goal is for Americans to return to some degree of normalcy by July 4. Science writer Katherine J. Wu, in an article published by The Atlantic, stresses that there is both good news and bad news where COVID-19 vaccines are concerned. The bad news is that some people who are vaccinated for COVID-d19 will be infected anyway; the good news is that the vast majority won't.

"Breakthrough infections, which occur when fully vaccinated people are infected by the pathogen that their shots were designed to protect against, are an entirely expected part of any vaccination process," Wu explains. "They're the data points that keep vaccines from reaching 100 percent efficacy in trials; they're simple proof that no inoculation is a perfect preventative. And so far, the ones found after COVID-19 vaccination seem to be extraordinary."

So far, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved three COVID-19 vaccines: one from Pfizer, one from Moderna — and most recently, one from Johnson & Johnson. Wu notes that since December, "nearly 40 million Americans" have been fully vaccinated. And the evidence, according to Wu, makes a strong argument for getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

"A vanishingly small percentage of those people have gone on to test positive for the coronavirus," Wu observes. "The post-shot sicknesses documented so far seem to be mostly mild, reaffirming the idea that inoculations are powerful weapons against serious disease, hospitalization, and death. This smattering of cases is a hazy portent of our future: Coronavirus infections will continue to occur, even as the masses join the ranks of the inoculated. The goal of vaccination isn't eradication, but a détente in which humans and viruses coexist, with the risk of disease at a tolerable low."

And as WBIR reported, even if you do get infected after being fully vaccinated, your case of COVID-19 is likely to be less severe:

Research reveals people who have been vaccinated but still develop COVID-19 will likely have minimal to no symptoms.
"This fact that you can be vaccinated and still get COVID, but with minimal symptoms or no symptoms, is one of the reasons that all the public health authorities are saying, keep wearing your mask, keep social distancing. And here is a perfect example of why that's so important," Dr. Bill Smith said.

What Wu describes as "breakthrough cases" is not unique to COVID-19 vaccines. Some people who receive flu shots get the flu anyway, but more often than not, flu shots work well — and millions of people avoid the flu because of them.

However, Wu points out that new COVID-19 variants that have been emerging in different parts of the world are raising concerns about "breakthrough cases."

"When breakthrough cases do arise, it's not always clear why," Wu observes. "The trio of vaccines now circulating in the United States were all designed around the original coronavirus variant, and seem to be a bit less effective against some newer versions of the virus. These troublesome variants have yet to render any of our current vaccines obsolete."

Saad Omer, described by Wu as a "vaccine expert" at Yale University, told her, "The more variants there are, the more concern you have for breakthrough cases,

Ali Ellebedy, an immunologist at St. Louis' Washington University, told Wu, "Being vaccinated doesn't mean you are immune. It means you have a better chance of protection."

Wu concludes her article by stressing that when it comes "breakthrough cases" and COVID-19 vaccines, it will be important to comprehend the data in the months ahead.

"The more people we vaccinate," Wu notes, "the more such cases there will be, in absolute numbers. But the rate at which they appear will also decline, as rising levels of population immunity cut the conduits that the virus needs to travel. People with lackluster responses to vaccines — as well as those who can't get their jabs — will receive protection from the many millions in whom the shots did work. In a crowd of people holding umbrellas, even those who are empty-handed will stay more dry."

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