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You Can Still Get COVID-19 After Vaccination. But Can You Spread the Virus?

February 08, 2021

It’s no mystery a vaccine can protect you from COVID-19, but can you still spread the virus?

A paper published Feb. 8 online by the MyHeritage lab, however, revealed patients over age 60 in Israel who tested positive for COVID-19 had up to 60 percent smaller viral loads than patients 40 to 59. By mid-January, when the study’s partial data were compiled, most of Israel’s over-60 population had already received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.That suggests people who have been vaccinated are less likely to infect others even when the virus is in their system because they have fewer viral droplets in their nose and throat.

MyHeritage does not yet know how many positive test results in the older age group were associated with patients who had been vaccinated.

But MyHeritage’s chief science officer, Yaniv Erlich, told The Times of Israel that the partial data still “gives exactly what we want from a vaccine, namely that it reduces transmission.” Erlich, an Israeli American scientist, said when more people over 60 are vaccinated the viral load could drop even more among the test group.

The researchers said the viral load among patients over 60 showed no change in tests from early and late December, through early January. Only in the last two weeks of January, when many over 60 in Israel were vaccinated, did results show a reduction in viral load.

Despite these encouraging results, clinical trials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine did not reveal conclusive evidence that people who have been vaccinated can still spread the virus.

“We know that the vaccine decreases your chance of becoming ill or seriously ill with COVID-19,” said Dr. Virginia Bieluch, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. “But scientists are still evaluating whether vaccinated people can still carry the virus and transmit it to others. So current recommendations to wear masks, social distance, avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated areas and wash or sanitize hands are still important in combating this pandemic.”