COVID after the vaccine, and the vaccine after COVID
There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the COVID vaccine. South Africans in particular have voiced their confusion about what is misinformation, what is propaganda and what is factual. A common question since President Ramaphosa announced that the COVID vaccine was available, is whether or not you can contract the virus after getting vaccinated, and whether or not you can get vaccinated if you have already had COVID.
What is COVID19?
COVID 19, or SARS-CoV-2 is part of the betacoronavirus family. Human spreads the virus to human droplets. It has a long survival period on the surface, but contact exposure is a major spread mechanism.
An exposed pathogen, such as the SARS-CoV-2, activates immune cells called B and T cells which launch a response to destroy the pathogen. B and T cells also produce memory cells that linger in your body to recognise and respond to the same pathogen if it returns.
According to Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance, ‘immune memories’ are more effective against some pathogens than others. Immunity after natural exposure is unclear on longevity. Documented reinfections mean that there is no guarantee against catching COVID-19 again. A vaccination, if given the opportunity, may not be a bad idea.
The second dose of the approved COVID-19 vaccines shows higher levels of protection. Evidence suggests that a single dose of vaccine is a second boost if you have already had COVD-19. The boost results in a stronger immune response to the virus.
What does the Center for Disease Control say?
The CDC says; COVID-19 vaccines are effective. But, a small percentage of fully vaccinated people will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus again. These are referred to as “vaccine breakthrough cases.”
What does this mean?
People who have been vaccinated are much less likely to get sick, and it will still happen in some cases. It’s also possible that some fully vaccinated people might have infections but not have symptoms (asymptomatic infections), the CDC continues. Experts continue to study how common these cases are.
Large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented most people from getting COVID-19. Research also provides growing evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) offer similar protection in real-world conditions. While these vaccines are effective, no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time. For any vaccine, there are breakthrough cases.
What do we know about immunity?
Immunity from a natural infection is long-lived – lasting up to eight months and longer—low rates of reinfection point towards people who previously had COVID-19.
Your immune system is robust. Different components work together to prevent different diseases. Immune systems produce antibodies when exposed to a pathogen and wane over time but remain operative at lower levels.
The cell-mediated immune response involves protective B cells and T cells. The cells increase over time and are elevated long after infection.
Who should get the COVID vaccine?
A doctor from Healthline said that natural immunity is not trivial and does contribute to population-level immunity along with vaccinations. Long natural immunity is uncertain, especially for previously ill people, but the first injection can act as an immune booster.
A study has found that previously sick individuals have stronger antibody responses after a single dose of the vaccine. People who did not have the virus before and received both doses of the vaccine were compared.
Reports of dangers or risks to people who have had COVID-19 and got vaccinated have not been reported. The usual side effects are noticeable, including pain in the area of the injection and fatigue.
More research is to understand the durability of immunity after having the virus. There is evidence of differential effects of the infection on women, children and elderly people. The length and strength of immunity differ in various groups.
Considering a vaccination
Doctors encourage people who have had COVID-19 to be vaccinated. A previous infection cannot be relied on to achieve immunity like with measles, mumps and rubella.
Reinfections do not mean a milder case of the virus. It can be the same degree of severity and even worse. The outcome is unknown.
There is research on the immunisation of people who have had COVID-19. The antibodies from the infection are different to the antibodies from when you are immunised. In short, it is best to get the covid vaccine.
What happens when people don’t get vaccinated?
An unvaccinated number of people will continue to transmit the virus. The virus’ prominence shall fluctuate in different communities.
The virus multiplies every time a new person is infected with the virus. Multiplication leads to mutation. Most mutations are harmless, but a series of variants can create a new and dangerous variant. A vast majority of people still do not understand this concept.
Flattening the curve
The fight against COVID-19 needs more of a united approach. The virus needs to be dealt with, and the way to fight the virus is by coming together.
Secondary infections have hardly been seen, but it is still too early in the pandemic to tell. Scientists are still learning about the coronavirus and its variants. Early research on COVID-19 vaccinations indicated that you are 90% less likely to have an asymptomatic infection.
The transmissibility of the virus looks like the vaccine is cutting it down. There’s much less likely that you will be exposed to the virus, as well as pass it on to those around you.
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