Vaccinated?  Immune but Maybe a Spreader

By Shlomo Maital

  My wife and I got the second dose of Pfizer vaccine last Monday.  It went smoothly – a drive-in site at a football stadium, ten stations, no queues, big freezers set up nearby, with workers shuttling vials to the stations.    Computer links recording everything, and all this done by an HMO, one of four that Israelis belong to.   Every Israeli gets healthcare via an HMO; basic care is inexpensive.   

     I have been wondering —  after being vaccinated, can I still spread COVID-19?  I found a partial answer in today’s daily Haaretz.  Here is what it says:

       “Over 12,400 Israeli residents have tested positive for COVID-19 after being vaccinated, among them 69 people who had already gotten the second dose, ..the Health Ministry reported.”

    “…5,348 people were found infected up to a week after getting the vaccine, of the 100,000 people who were vaccinated and then tested a week later – an infection rate of 5.4 per cent of those vaccinated at the time.” 

     I note that in a deal made between Pfizer and Israel,  extra doses were shipped to Israel in return for the data on the vaccine’s track record.  Some think this violates  privacy – but it does not, since no names are attached, only aggregate data that can help Pfizer perhaps adjust the vaccine in future, to deal with mutations.

     How can we interpret the data?

      I think it means this —   the mRNA vaccine inoculates against the spike protein, that helps the virus invade our cells and make us ill.  It does NOT destroy the virus itself.  The virus an still be present in our nostrils…and hence we test positive.  But the virus is unable to make us ill, owing to the immunity given by the vaccine. So if we cough, we can spread the vaccine to others… but without getting ill ourselves. 

    This means everyone vaccinated must continue to wear masks….and socially distance.  At least for a while.   And further data are awaited….