Personal Account: My Niece And Nephew Contracted Covid
Three weeks ago, I got a call from my sister telling me that both my niece and nephew had tested positive for COVID-19. Aged 11 and nine respectively, both are too young to qualify for the vaccines here in the UK. My sister and her husband are fully vaccinated, so I told her that even though they may still get the virus, it is likely they would only suffer mild symptoms. Her main concern, however, was for the children while my niece was just mildly tired and had a blocked nose, my nephews symptoms were more significant.
My nephew, Ben, is a well child. He is lucky not to suffer from any underlying health conditions and keeps himself fit by playing for the local football club. But he had come home from school in tears, complaining of a headache and pain in his legs. While the latter symptom dissipated, the headache continued and kept him awake at night. He became overwhelmed by fatigue and was struggling to get out of bed. This lasted for a week and was accompanied by frantic phone calls from my sister, asking me if there was anything that could alleviate his distress.
It was nearly two weeks before he began to feel better, and during that time not only was he missing school and vital education, he was also suffering. It made me think about all the children who were contracting COVID in school and for whom the illness was not a mild one.
There Is Emerging Evidence Showing That Existing Covid
- The AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines effectively protect against COVID-19 infection, illness, hospitalisation, severe illness, and death due to the Delta variant.
- Evidence is emerging showing that it is highly likely that the vaccines reduce the risk of transmission and the length of time a person is infectious.
- Unvaccinated people are significantly more likely to experience symptoms, be sicker, and die from COVID-19, including the Delta variant.
- People who have only had one dose of a vaccine are more protected from COVID-19, including the Delta variant, than unvaccinated people.
- People who have received both doses are more protected than people who have received one.
- The effectiveness of the vaccines reduces over time, but is still at least as effective as the protection afforded by a previous natural infection.
- Vaccination does not prevent infection and transmission completely, so following public health orders, local social restrictions remain important for vaccinated people.
- If exposed or infection is suspected, fully vaccinated people should still be tested for COVID-19 and isolate while awaiting results based on local directions.
There have been reports that herd immunity may be challenged by the emergence of the Delta-variant. However, the evidence shows that vaccination remains very strong and important protection for both vaccinated people and unvaccinated people such as children and others who cannot yet receive the vaccine.
What Else Do People Need To Know Now About Variants
Lambda appears to be dominating infection in South America. It has been for the last few months. And who knows what it will do? That is hard to predict in an ever-changing pandemic. What we saw with alpha at the first of 2021 is that it dominated infections in several parts of the world, but it now seems to be overtaken by delta.
The vast majority of cases in the U.S. greater than 85% are delta. This does not mean that the other variants are not important, but in our part of the world, non-delta variants are currently not as concerning.
Its important that people know that none of what we call scariants or variants that scare people, have, so far, completely evaded vaccine-elicited antibody or immune responses. Thats true for them all alpha, beta, delta, epsilon, lambda and so forth.
We see a dampening in the level of immunity as far as immune recognition and something that we call neutralization, which is a biomarker that for mRNA vaccines can predict whether someone develops clinical disease or not. The mRNA vaccines raise that biomarker to high levels.
If youre healthy and do not have a comorbidity or risk factor associated with severe COVID-19, youre still protected in most cases. The COVID-19 vaccines, in most cases, provide immunity at a much higher level than the bodys reaction to a natural infection. Some people who get a natural infection make high antibody levels, but the vaccine seems do that more consistently in most people.
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What You Need To Know About Variants
Information about Variants: Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. New variants will continue to emerge. CDC and other public health organizations monitor all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the United States and globally.
The Delta variant causes more infections and spreads faster than the original SARS-CoV-2 strain of the virus that cause COVID-19. Vaccines remain the best way to reduce your risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
Fau Expert Answers Questions About The Delta Variant And Vaccines
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that currently more than 80 percent of cases of COVID-19 are the Delta variant.
Florida Atlantic Universitys Joanna Drowos, D.O., M.P.H., M.B.A., associate chair of the Department of Integrated Medical Science, an associate professor of integrated medical science, and a practicing physician at the , within the Schmidt College of Medicine, provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 Delta variant, vaccines and public safety measures.
Drowos is board certified in preventive medicine, family medicine and medical quality. Prior to joining FAU, she served as the center medical director of the Riviera Beach Health Center of the Palm Beach County Health Department. At the health department, Drowos participated in the care of the countys medically underserved populations addressing various infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. She also served as the director of medical education for the Palm Beach County Health Departments Preventive Medicine Residency Program from 2009 to 2013.
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Do Covid Vaccines Prevent Transmission Of The Virus
Studies show that while both the vaccinated and unvaccinated can have similar levels of the virus in their bodies, the vaccinated are less likely to pass it on to others. Plus, COVID toes and a pill to treat COVID at home.
It has long been established that COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalisation. But there has until recently been a question mark over whether they reduce transmission of the virus.
It is an important question and one around which public health policies have been built. The United Kingdom, for example, has mandated COVID vaccines for all social care staff to protect the vulnerable people they care for they are set to do the same for NHS staff. And in Italy, from October 15, workers will have to show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test or recovery from a recent infection to their employer. Anyone unable to do this risks being suspended from work without pay. Other countries are adopting similar measures.
But do vaccines actually limit the spread of the virus?
Those who are vaccinated will have primed immune systems that will recognise the coronavirus far quicker and be able to rid their body of it faster than those who are unvaccinated.
It is important to remember that those who are vaccinated will have primed immune systems that will recognise the coronavirus far quicker and be able to rid their body of it faster than those who are unvaccinated and whose immune system will take time to respond to the virus.
A Third Dose Of Covid
Israel became the first country to widely administer an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people at higher risk. Currently, people 60 or older can get a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a booster.
The Israeli Health Ministry said its decision was based on national health statistics, which suggested that people vaccinated in April appeared to have 75 percent protection against infection, while protection for people vaccinated in January dropped to as low as 16 percent.
Venky Soundararajan, PhD, who led the abovementioned Mayo Clinic study, said a Moderna booster shot is also in the works. It may be recommended for people who got the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines earlier this year.
Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany, have also approved third doses to be administered to people who do not mount a proper immune response after getting their initial two doses.
The United States is also one of them.
The CDC has so far only recommended a three-shot regimen to boost protection for immunocompromised people, such as organ transplant recipients and people with cancer, who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
The United States also has a booster plan that would offer people either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna boosters 8 months after their second dose. The rollout is expected to start Sept. 20.
Moderna also said on Sept. 9 that its working on a single vaccine that combines both a COVID-19 booster dose and a flu shot.
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Will A ‘booster’ Become Necessary
Georg Behrens of Hanover Medical School emphasized that it must be taken into account at what point Israelis who were infected with the delta variant had been vaccinated. The first vaccinations were given in December 2020, and Behrens said the effect of the initial inoculation could slowly wear off, making another dose necessary.
The manufacturers of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine have also pointed in that direction in their latest press release. In order to maintain efficacy, they are calling for approval of a third vaccination dose six months after the second vaccination.
How Well Do Covid
A CDC study found that those fully vaccinated are nearly five times less likely to get Covid-19, … over 10 times less likely to get hospitalized, and over 10 less likely to die from Covid-19 than those who are not fully vaccinated.
Just because you find out that your significant other actually farts doesnt mean that you should break up with him or her. Similarly, just because the Covid-19 vaccines may not be as effective against the more contagious Delta variant as it was against previous variants doesnt mean that you should not get vaccinated.
As a study published this past Friday in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed, the Covid-19 vaccines can still offer very good protection. Heres what the CDC tweeted about the study:
As you can see, the study found that even after the U.S. had become a Delta house, so to speak, those fully vaccinated were still around five times less likely to get infected, over ten times less likely to get hospitalized, and over ten times less likely to die from Covid-19. Those numbers, to borrow the words of Juicy J, aint nothing.
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So Do Vaccines Still Work
Although they represent an essential marker, the levels of antibodies measured in a lab are not enough to determine the efficacy of a vaccine. In particular, they do not take into account a second immune response in the form of killer T cells which attack already-infected cells and not the virus itself.
As a result, real-world observations are crucial to measuring vaccine effectiveness and the first results are reassuring.
According to data published on Monday by Public Health England, vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca jabs is as effective at preventing hospitalisation in the case of the Delta variant as it is in the case of the Alpha variant.
Two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab prevent 96 percent of hospitalisations due to the Delta variant, while the AstraZeneca vaccine prevents 92 percent, according to a study involving 14,000 people.
Previous data released by British health authorities at the end of May come to similar conclusions for less serious forms of the illness.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 88 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant two weeks after the second dose, while the jab is 93 percent effective for cases caused by the Alpha variant.
AstraZeneca shows the efficacy of 60 percent against cases caused by the Delta variant and 66 percent in the case of Alpha.
Scottish authorities published similar data on Monday in The Lancet.
Unvaccinated People Are At Risk
In the U.S., there is a disproportionate number of unvaccinated people in Southern and Appalachian states including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and West Virginia, where vaccination rates are low, but cases are rising in other parts of the country as well. In September, health leaders in Idaho, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, expanded health care rationing throughout the state after the Delta surge led to a scarcity of resources for all hospitalized patients.
Children, teenagers, and young adults are a concern, too. A study from the United Kingdom showed that children and adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with Delta, says Dr. Yildirim. The U.S. has allowed Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations for adolescents and teenagers since May, and, in early November, the CDC approved FDA authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-17.
As older age groups get vaccinated, those who are younger and unvaccinated will be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 with any variant, says Dr. Yildirim. But Delta seems to be impacting younger age groups more than previous variants.
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How Do Scientists Know That People Infected With Delta Shed The Virus At Higher Rates
The science behind that knowledge is observational studies in several different locations in the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has looked in detail at a number of clusters of outbreaks. For example, some of the primary data that the CDC examined were based on a community outbreak among vaccinated people in Massachusetts.
They determined this by physically sampling for viral nucleic acid in the airways of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and found that they had similar levels of viral RNA in the upper airways. They measured this by a PCR test where you swab each nostril, then the sample is sequenced. The sequencing determines if theres virus nucleic acid and, if so, what lineage does this specific virus correspond to? Is it delta, is it epsilon, etc.?
Can Someone Who Is Vaccinated Spread Covid
The short answer: Yes if they get infected. But vaccinated people appear to spread the virus at a lower rate than unvaccinated people.
The details: For previous variants, lower amounts of viral genetic material were found in samples taken from fully vaccinated people who had breakthrough infections than from unvaccinated people with COVID-19. For people infected with the Delta variant, similar amounts of viral genetic material have been found among both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people. However, like previous variants, the amount of viral genetic material may go down faster in fully vaccinated people when compared to unvaccinated people. This suggests fully vaccinated people will likely spread the virus for less time than unvaccinated people.
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What Else Is Important For People To Know About How Vaccines Work And Your Search For A Universal Vaccine
Developing mRNA vaccines is one way the human brain really shines by taking a natural system and reapplying it.
Every cell in your body makes mRNA at all times to carry out basic biological functions. That is literally how your cells survive and carry out their functions. Your cells in the brain, cells in your foot, cells in your heart. That is what they do.
Its a biological system in plants, amoebas, really in anything thats alive. That is a required feature of life. So, mRNA vaccines are just borrowing a basic biological process that your body does already in order to survive.
Im not sure a universal vaccine would necessarily eliminate COVID. Im skeptical that the acceptance of a universal vaccine would be better than that of the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson vaccines.
A caveat with any universal vaccine concept is that we do not yet know how durable the responses would be or how long they would last. We do know that a universal vaccine like ours could have more broad protection against more genetically diverse coronaviruses. However, the current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are excellent and could help control the pandemic if enough people were vaccinated.
This interview was first posted by The Well.
Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at .
There Is Still More To Learn About Delta
As data about Delta accumulates, scientists are working hard to learn as much as possible as quickly as they can. One important question is whether the Delta strain will make you sicker than the original virus. Early information about the severity of Delta included studies from Scotland and Canada, both cited by the CDC, that suggested the Delta variant may be more likely to result in hospitalization in the unvaccinated. A report this summer, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found that people in England with Delta had double the hospitalization risk of those with Alpha, which was previously the dominant mutation in that country.
Another question focuses on how Delta affects the body. There have been reports of symptoms that are different than those associated with the original coronavirus strain, Dr. Yildirim says. It seems like cough and loss of smell are less common, she says. And headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever are present based on surveys in the U.K.
Meanwhile, experts continue to study Delta and breakthrough cases. Its difficult to pin down exact numbers of breakthrough infections in the U.S., where the CDC stopped counting cases that dont result in hospitalization or death in May. The agency notes that no vaccine is 100% effective, and any rise in cases will have an accompanying rise in breakthrough infections.
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