June 19, 2021

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Do you have the vaccine? Experts say you can now relax about your Covid-19 risk. Really.

Brian van der Brug-Pool / Getty Images

I asked the health experts about their post-vaccination lives. Most no longer worry about their risk of Covid-19.

White House Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci She said He will do it not he goes to a restaurant or cinema, even if he is vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention He says vaccinated people should continue to disguise themselves at home and avoid large gatherings. Newspapers reported that “revolutionary infections“Covid-19 among the vaccinated.

All of this may make it seem like getting vaccinated may not be enough to free people from the fear of getting sick and the precautions they have taken to avoid coronavirus over the past year. So I asked the experts I spoke to during the pandemic about Covid-related precautions: How concerned are you about your personal safety after being vaccinated?

They were almost unanimous in their response: they are no longer worried much, if at all, about their personal risk of contracting Covid-19. Many have talked about going to restaurants and cinemas now that they are vaccinated, socializing with friends and family, and having visits from older relatives for extended periods.

“I’m not particularly worried about getting sick too,” Tara Smith, an epidemiologist at Kent State University, told me. “I know that if I somehow end up infected, my chances of developing severe symptoms are low.”

But, over time, they also see those concerns for others become less necessary.

“It’s about protecting others. Vaccination essentially makes me safe, “Harvard University epidemiologist William Hanage told me.” There is also accumulated evidence that breakthrough cases are less likely to transmit (have a lower viral load), so by being vaccinated I am already helping to protect others. But I will also continue with behaviors consistent with lower contact rates in the community at large. As more and more people are protected by vaccination, I will feel less and less of the need. “

As vaccination rates rise and new cases and daily deaths decrease, experts said people should feel more comfortable easing precautions, returning the world to the pre-pandemic days. It could happen sooner than you think … The experience of Israel suggests that cases could start plummeting sustainably once about 60 percent of the population has been vaccinated, a point that may be just a month or two away in the United States. And with 46 percent of Americans who have received a dose so far, cases in the United States they have already started to decline.

As more of the population receives the vaccine, it is prudent to continue masquerading and avoid large gatherings, and for people who have been vaccinated to share their stories and also encourage their friends and family to get vaccinated. But this is not because those who are vaccinated are in trouble. Even with the spread of variants, the consensus among experts is that vaccinated people shouldn’t worry much about their risk of Covid-19.

Vaccines are really so good for your personal safety

The clinical and actual evidence for vaccines is now quite clear: they are extremely effective in protecting a person from Covid-19.

Clinical trials have put the double hit Efficacy rates of Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines 95 percent plus one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to more than 70 percent. All three vaccines also led the risk of hospitalization and death to almost zero.

Real world evidence confirmed this. In Israel, the country with the most advanced vaccination campaign, the data Shows that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing infections, with even higher rates of symptomatic disease blocking, hospitalization and death. You can see this in the country’s general statistics: after Israel almost completely reopened its economy in March, once most of the population had at least one dose, new cases of Covid-19 every day it fell by more than 95 percent. IS daily deaths they are now in the single digits and, sometimes, zero.

Research also shows vaccines they are effective against coronavirus variants which have been discovered so far. While some variants appear to be better able to circumvent immunity, vaccines are so powerful that they still manage to overwhelm and defeat the variants in the end.

It is this evidence that has made experts confident that vaccines have allowed them to stop worrying about their own Covid-19 risk. “I am fully vaccinated and resumed normal activities,” Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician at the University of California at San Francisco, told me. “I went for indoor dining, went to my first cinema and would go to a bar if the opportunity arose!”

The diminished concern also applies to others who are vaccinated. Smith spoke of the visit of the fully vaccinated in-laws next weekend: “the first time we have seen them in person since December 2019”.

There have been some groundbreaking cases of Covid-19 among those who have been vaccinated. But they tends to be milder infections, less likely to be transmitted and far from common. “That’s less than 0.01 percent of the vaccinated,” Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale School of Medicine, told me. citing data from the CDC. “So extremely rare!”

To the extent that some experts are still playing it safe for themselves, they cited an abundance of caution and a lack of interest in certain activities.

“I go out to eat, but always only outdoors. I want to be completely relaxed for a restaurant dining experience. As for me, with people I don’t know who eat without masks, I feel safer outside, “Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an epidemiologist at UC San Francisco told me.” I haven’t been to bars, concerts, theaters, but this probably reflects the fact that I’m a rather boring person. “

Some acknowledged that their continued caution was a habit that needed to be broken: after a year of worries about the virus, it takes some time to revert to a pre-pandemic mindset. “I’m not too worried about my safety,” Jorge Salinas, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa, told me. “I think it’s mainly a matter of clothes. I think it’s okay to go back to restaurants, but I kept getting takeaways. But whoever is vaccinated and feels ready, I think he is safe in most places. “

Ongoing precautions are really about protecting others

The only reason experts have consistently cited ongoing precautions: the need to protect those who aren’t vaccinated. “We will probably avoid any indoor activities for now, since we have an unvaccinated 7-year-old at home,” Smith said. “The risk is low for us to capture and broadcast anything to it, but after all this time avoiding indoor places and paying attention, a movie theater or dinner at a restaurant doesn’t seem worth it when we still have great options with home theater and meals. takeaway. Once everyone is vaccinated, they will be back in our rotation ”.

Some recent research has found that vaccines can reduce the chances of a vaccinated person spreading the virus to others. The CDC summary one such real-world study for Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, showing that vaccines block not only symptoms but overall infections and, therefore, transmission:

The results showed that after the second vaccine dose (the recommended number of doses), the risk of infection was reduced by 90% two or more weeks after vaccination. After a single dose of both vaccines, participants’ risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection was reduced by 80% two or more weeks after vaccination.

But in the typically cautious worlds of science and public health, experts want to see a little more research and data before claiming that vaccinated people can throw off their masks and congregate in large numbers at home. (Some experts also said they may continue to mask and avoid crowded indoor spaces during flu season after such measures. it seemed to crush the flu in the past year.)

Even if the vaccine were shown to reduce transmission, it would still be safer for every person who can be vaccinated to get the vaccine. And as more people get their shots, it’s also safer to stick to some precautions for their own good.

To this end, experts recommend looking at some data in the future: the vaccination rate and new cases or daily hospitalizations. As vaccination rates rise and exceed 50 or 60 percent locally, a vaccinated person can feel much safer going out without worrying about potentially infecting others. And as cases and hospitalizations decrease, a vaccinated person can also be confident that there isn’t much virus out there, further reducing the chances of getting the infection and spreading it.

In the meantime, those who are already vaccinated can help speed the process by encouraging their friends, family and peers to get vaccinated. Surveys constantly to exhibit that around 1 in 3 unvaccinated people are waiting for others around them to get vaccinated before doing so. Sharing vaccination stories, therefore, could give people the boost they need.

“I am very aware that while I am vaccinated, many still are not,” Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist at George Mason University, told me. “So I’m still vigilant about wearing my mask while I’m out running errands in public or when interacting with servers [and] other customers if I go to an outdoor restaurant, even if I’m not very worried about my risk of getting sick. “

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