COVID-19 infection possible even after vaccination, says expert

However, the vaccine prevents from severe illness and hospitalization

Even if we get the second dose of Covishield or AstraZeneca vaccine, we would be still infected from COVID-19 and can be a source of infection to other person, according to Dr Sonam Wangchuk of the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG).

“However, studies show that the vaccine would prevent from severe illness and hospitalisation,” he said, adding that the vaccine cannot protect 100% from the virus and that it can spread to others in case of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or COVID-19 mutates and there is emergence of new variants.

Meanwhile, there has also been reports of the COVID-19 infection even after two weeks from receiving the second dose of vaccination.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified a small cohort of approximately 5,800 cases of Covid-19 infection among more than 66mn Americans who have completed a full course of vaccination representing 0.008% of the fully vaccinated population.

A new study carried out by researchers from University of California San Diego School of Medicine and David Geffen Scholl of Medicine has revealed that people can contract COVID-19 even after vaccination though the chance is around 1% or less.

Dozens of cases infected from COVID-19 after the second dose of vaccination has also been reported in India.

Those who are vaccinated can have asymptomatic or mild symptoms compared to those who have not been vaccinated and will experience severe illness and hospitalisation, said Dr Sonam Wangchuk.

“After you’ve been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions – like wearing a mask, staying six feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces –in public places until we know more,” the CDC states.

The CDC also reports that vaccinated people could potentially still get COVID-19 and spread it to others.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose, CDC states.

According to the health ministry, the first dose gives only about half of the total protection that the vaccination is supposed to give and the second dose completes the required efficacy.

The Covishield or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has the efficacy of 81.3% and Bhutan plans for the second dose after eight to 12 weeks from the first vaccination rollout.

Meanwhile, some people have become lax after the first dose of vaccine as they can be seen not wearing face masks in public places, engaging in gatherings, not maintaining physical distancing and not washing hands frequently.

Bhutan has 533,000 eligible population for COVID-19 vaccination. However, still 250,000 people namely those below the age of 18 years, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are not eligible for vaccination.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said it would depend on the COVID-19 epidemiological settings to get the infection, a highly transmission or endemic would see more cases and vice-versa.

As of yesterday, Bhutan has 64 active cases with seven confirmed cases including three front-liners who were in quarantine duty, and four imported cases. The total vaccinated population stands at 478,219 as of now.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu