IS it possible to get Covid-19 after being vaccinated? The simple answer is yes. However, evidence suggests that severity of the disease is milder and there’s lower likelihood of transmitting it to others.
Following vaccination, the risk of infection and its complications decreases, but the risk will not reduce to zero at least for the next few years. This is because the continued high global incidence makes new mutations more likely, and these mutations may reduce the vaccine’s future effectiveness.
The only way to be 100% safe from this virus is by totally isolating oneself from the world!
We should calibrate the expectations of the community to how the vaccines will help us in this pandemic. It is not the silver bullet nor the prime solution. However, vaccines should help us in the short term by decreasing the immediate risk of infection and disease severity when infected.
The Pfizer vaccine, planned for 50% of our population, reduces the risk of infection by 95% and 91% for the short and mid-term. The vaccine was also reported to be 100% effective against the South African variant (B.1.351).
In a population that is fully vaccinated, we should expect the daily average reported cases to drop from 2,000 to 174. In terms of absolute risk, the daily average risk of Covid-19 will reduce from the current 61 per million population to five per million.
We need to be transparent about the harm and benefits of the vaccines to maintain the trust of the public. Based on current evidence, the benefits outweigh the harm (side effects) at a population level. The benefits are even higher for high-risk individuals. So, go and get vaccinated.
DR SANJAY RAMPAL
Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine Specialist