A new study reveals that fully vaccinated people can transmit the Delta variant of COVID-19. The peer-reviewed breakthrough research published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal found that people who received two vaccine doses could still pass the infection on to both vaccinated and unvaccinated household members.
The year-long analysis of 621 people in the U.K. demonstrated the power of the Delta variant even in countries where vaccination rates are high, according to Fortune. The study data found that 25% of vaccinated people could contract the disease from a housemate, and 38% of unvaccinated individuals were likely to become infected. The good news is that people who were inoculated cleared the virus more quickly and were less likely to suffer severe disease and hospitalization than their unvaccinated household members.
According to BBC News, even if they have few or no symptoms, scientists discovered that vaccinated people can readily transmit the virus because, while they clear the virus more quickly, they can carry the same peak viral load as unvaccinated people.
The authors of the study warned that people who are unvaccinated should not rely on vaccinated people around them for protection against the Delta variant. While vaccines do an excellent job of preventing severe illness and death, they were not formulated to provide protection from infection. And over time, several studies have shown that their efficacy wanes, says BBC News.
Other highlights of the study that was conducted from September 2020 to September 2021 in 440 households in the U.K., found that fully vaccinated people still have a risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant although their risk is much lower compared to unvaccinated individuals.
“Our findings show that vaccination alone is not enough to prevent people from being infected with the Delta variant and spreading it in household settings,” said Dr. Ajit Lalvani, chair of infectious disease at Imperial College London in the U.K. who co-led the study, according to Fortune.
“The ongoing transmission we are seeing between vaccinated people makes it essential for unvaccinated people to get vaccinated to protect themselves from acquiring infection and severe COVID-19, especially as more people will be spending time inside in close proximity during the winter months,” He added that susceptibility to infection increases within months of getting the second jab and urged people to get booster shots as soon as possible.
Co-author Dr. Anika Singanayagam, also an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College London, added: “Our findings provide important insights into the effect of vaccination in the face of new variants, and specifically, the Delta variant is continuing to cause high COVID case numbers around the world, even in countries with high vaccination rates.” The expert called for continued public health measures to reduce transmission including wearing masks, social distancing, and testing, according to BBC News.
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