Use Caution In Closed Spaces And Crowded Places
The risk of COVID-19 is higher when you’re around someone who has COVID-19 in closed spaces and crowded places. You’re at higher risk in settings where these factors overlap or involve activities such as:
- close-range conversations
- heavy breathing
If a space feels stuffy or smelly, it probably isn’t well ventilated. If you feel the space isn’t well ventilated or is too crowded, follow all individual public health measures while in that space. You may also choose to:
- avoid that space
- limit the amount of time spent in the space
Learn more about:
Can The Vaccine Make You Test Positive
No, the Covid vaccine cannot make you test positive for the virus.
The vaccines do not use live versions of the virus, so they wont show up on a test.
You may experience some side-effects after getting the booster, such as fever and chills, fatigue, feeling sick, a slight headache, and arm pain where the jab was administered.
People At Risk Of More Severe Disease Or Outcomes
COVID-19 can result in severe illness for some people in our communities. Those who are at risk of developing more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 are people:
- who aren’t fully vaccinated
Learn more about:
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South Korea Urges People To Avoid Travel For The Lunar New Year Holiday
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum of South Korea urged the public on Monday to avoid traveling during the coming Lunar New Year holiday, which takes place from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, because of rising cases of the coronavirus.
Its been two years since we havent been able to celebrate a proper Lunar New Year, Mr. Kim said in a statement. We ask that once again, you all celebrate the holidays at heart while social distancing.
On Monday, South Korea reported 7,513 new daily cases, almost double the figure for the same day last week. Omicron is now the dominant coronavirus variant in the country.
The country tightened its social-distancing rules a few weeks ago, and the new regulations will last through the holiday weekend, meaning that businesses will have to close at 9 p.m.
Restrictions on social gatherings however, have been raised from four to six people. According to the Our World in Data project at Oxford University, South Korea has a vaccination rate of 85 percent. People must prove that they are fully vaccinated status before they are allowed to enter businesses or public buildings.
Answered By Infectious Diseases Expert Sara Bares Md:
This is a great and important question and the answer has changed since the emergence of the delta variant. Prior to delta, vaccines reduced transmission by about 90% and this was very reassuring. However, new data evaluating breakthrough infections in patients infected with the delta variant demonstrate similar viral loads in vaccinated versus unvaccinated patients. The viral load likely correlates with transmissibility.
In summary, the virus is changing and we are learning more about the new variants every day, but it is possible for someone who has been vaccinated to develop a breakthrough infection and spread the virus. This is why public health experts recently recommended that vaccinated people resume wearing masks in indoor public spaces and around those who are not vaccinated.
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Breakthrough Infections: Coronavirus After Vaccination
A breakthrough infection is an infection with a virus, bacterium or other germ after you have been vaccinated. This is an expected occurrence for a small percentage of those receiving any vaccine, since no vaccine for any disease is 100% effective in preventing infection in every person who receives it.
Breakthrough coronavirus infections happen when someone who has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 becomes infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., senior director of infection prevention, and Gabor Kelen, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, explain what you need to know about breakthrough coronavirus infections.
Which Precautions Are Still Necessary If You Have Not Been Fully Immunized With The Covid
Wear masks as advised by the CDC. Physically distance. Socialize outdoors. Avoid crowded indoor spaces. Wash your hands frequently. If you are not fully vaccinated, these are essential precautions you should take to reduce your risk of catching or spreading coronavirus.
But what about some other precautions you may be taking? Do they help, or is it okay to let them go? Let’s take a look.
You don’t need to wear gloves when running errands. It’s true that a person can get infected if they touch a surface or object that has viral particles on it, then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. But this is not the main way the virus spreads. What’s more, gloves won’t prevent this type of transmission, and may even make it more likely that you will touch your face. Instead, wash your hands before you leave the house, use hand sanitizer when you’re out and about, and wash your hands again when you get back home. In between, try to avoid touching your face.
You don’t need to disinfect groceries or takeout containers. The risk of infection from food or food packaging is very small. The CDC advises against using disinfectant intended for hard surfaces on cardboard or other grocery items, which can absorb the chemicals. If you are concerned about takeout, transfer food to your own serving dishes. And wash your hands and disinfect your counters after putting away your groceries or handling takeout containers.
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Viral Load And Transmission
There is also another considerationthe role viral load may play in transmission. A study published in February 2021 in The Lancet Infectious Diseases found that the viral loadthe amount of virus in a persons body is a critical factor in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Specifically, the study concluded that those with higher viral loads are more likely to transmit the virus to others. In March, another study from Israel found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, even after just a single dose, significantly reduced viral loadwhich suggests that it may also lower the risk of transmission. But it did not evaluate whether vaccinated people could transmit the virus, even if their viral loads were reduced. Nor did it take into account the Delta variant.
More science will certainly emerge on transmission, as the Delta variant circulates and as more people become vaccinated, and hopefully public guidance will follow the science,” says Dr. Meyer.
A recent study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, demonstrated that people infected by the Delta variant had viral loads roughly 1000 times higher than those infected by the initial strain of the virus.
“The higher viral loads may play a role in increasing the risk of transmission, because each droplet can be packed with more virus,” says Dr. Meyer.
But the extent to which it does so in unvaccinated and vaccinated people is still unclear.
Who Do Masks Protect: The Wearer Others Or Both
We’ve known for some time that masks help prevent people from spreading the coronavirus to others. Based on an analysis of existing information, a new study contends that masks may also protect mask wearers from becoming infected themselves.
Different masks, writes the study author, block viral particles to varying degrees. If masks lead to lower “doses” of virus being inhaled, then fewer people may become infected, and those who do may have milder illness.
Researchers in China experimented with hamsters to test the effect of masks. They put healthy hamsters and hamsters infected with SARS-CoV-2 in a cage, and separated some of the healthy and infected hamsters with a barrier made of surgical masks. Many of the “masked” healthy hamsters did not get infected, and those who did got less sick than previously healthy “maskless” hamsters.
A similar experiment cannot ethically be done in humans. But researchers have studied doses of flu virus and found that people who inhaled a higher dose of flu virus were more likely to get sick and experience symptoms. Observations of coronavirus outbreaks in processing plants and on cruise ships also support the idea that masks may help protect mask wearers.
Without more research, we can’t be certain that masks protect the wearer. But we do know they don’t hurt, and that they protect others.
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Trials Focused On Infection Not On Transmission
How can it be that after conducting clinical trials that involved tens of thousands of people, there was still uncertainty about whether the three authorized COVID-19 vaccinesfrom Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnsoncould prevent or reduce transmission?
In large part, its because the clinical trials for these vaccines were primarily focused on determining whether the vaccines protected against symptomatic COVID-19 infection. And though the trials showed that the vaccines are very effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death, none were found to be 100% protective against infection, meaning that some trial participants had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, even after vaccination.
With the initial coronavirus strain, or even with the Alpha variant, the post-vaccine immune response is usually fast and potent enough that it clears out the infection quicklybefore the virus can spread far in the body or serious symptoms have a chance to develop. But because infection could technically occur, transmission was still considered a possibilityalbeit a remote one.
The Delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us, said CDC director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, at a recent news briefing.
Breakthrough Cases And Delta: Background
Until recently, scientists were unsure whether fully vaccinated people who became infected with COVID-19 could transmit it to others. But the CDC report released in late July made it clear that some vaccinated people can get Delta in a breakthrough infectionand may be contagious.
The CDC added that breakthrough infections occur in only a small proportion of vaccinated people and of the breakthrough infections, transmission by the vaccinated appears to only be a small part of overall spread of the virus. But the CDC says it does not yet have data on the likelihood of asymptomatic spread among vaccinated people.
So, where does that leave us?
What we do know, says Dr. Meyer, is that there is less circulating virus in the community as a result of vaccination. When we look at vaccinations compared to cases on a population levelwe see that as the number of people vaccinated rises, the number of cases decreases, she says. This is likely due to the fact that people who are vaccinated are not becoming infected as often, but also that they are not forward-transmitting the virus as often.
But more research is needed. The CDC says that “studies are underway to understand the level and duration of transmissibility from Delta vaccine breakthrough infections.”
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Vaccinated People Are Less Infectious Better Protected
Biden is correct that COVID-19 is primarily a disease of the unvaccinated when we look at hospitalizations and deaths, said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
However “vaccinated people can shed virus and be contagious but generally shed virus in lower quantities and for a shorter amount of time.” Offit pointed to a study from Singapore which found that vaccinated individuals who caught COVID-19 “had a more rapid decline in viral load, which has implications on secondary transmission and public health policy.” The study was done based on cases earlier this year before omicron emerged.
Brooke Nichols, a health economist and infectious disease mathematical modeler at Boston University, said “vaccinated individuals can definitely infect other people. There is enough data to support this.”
“While vaccinated individuals may be less infectious and infectious for a shorter duration of time they are by no means a dead-end host,” Nichols said. “When calling it a pandemic of the unvaccinated, though, it makes it sound as those vaccinated individuals arent substantially contributing to new cases which they are . Unvaccinated individuals do, however, continue to contribute disproportionately to hospitalizations and deaths.”
Who Is Eligible In The Uk
Instead of aiming to vaccinate everyone by the end of January, the new target is to offer every adult in England a third dose . Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also all speeding up their rollouts.
Everyone in the UK over 18 and everyone over 16 who is at risk, which includes those working in health and social care is eligible. You just need to have had your second dose three months ago or more.
However, some may have to wait depending on where they live. All over-18s in England can come forward for a booster, but in Scotland and Northern Ireland only over-30s are able to get one right now, though this is expected to change shortly. People in Wales need to wait to be called.
Note that these booster doses are different from the third doses being offered to people with weakened immune systems, who may not have responded fully to their first two doses. People in this group only need to wait eight weeks from their second dose to book a third and theyll be eligible for an additional booster three months after this.
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Why Are Vaccinated People Still Getting Covid
Weve heard of cases where people who are in between doses or people who have received both doses are still testing positive or becoming infected with COVID-19. How is this possible? Dr. Cardona attributes this to exposure risks or where people are in the vaccination process.
Immunization with the COVID-19 vaccines provides the best protection within two weeks of being fully vaccinated. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of Pfizers or Modernas vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnsons. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 or becomes ill a few days later, they most likely were exposed before being fully vaccinated. There are reported cases of illness and/or exposure after the vaccines, but the complications of the disease for those not vaccinated yet has been of greater magnitude.
What If We Hadn’t Learned That A Guest Tested Positive
This is the only part of the story that sort of scares me. If we hadn’t been alerted, we never would have thought about getting tested. Even little Lou just had what I would consider “the crud.” Her symptoms didn’t seem COVID-like. No one ever had a fever. Asymptomatic cases tend not to spread the virus as much as those that involve lots of coughing and sneezing everywhere. But if we hadn’t been alerted about the exposure, we certainly could have silently infected many more people, possibly someone vulnerable to severe infection.
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Don’t Let Omicron Crash Your Holiday Gathering Here’s How To Keep Your Family Safe
The current official advice from the Biden administration, as Christmas approaches, doesn’t map easily onto the situation we faced.
President Biden said during a speech about omicron, on Dec. 21: “I know some Americans are wondering if you can safely celebrate the holidays with your family and friends. The answer is yes, you can, if you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated, particularly if you’ve gotten your booster shot” and, he added, if you “follow the precautions that we all know well.”
But how would that apply to our family, with its mix of vaccinated adults, and unvaccinated children?
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky brought some clarity the following day, when she advised that Americans to “please get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings, and take a COVID-19 test before gathering with others.”
Taking those rapid tests would indeed have been a good idea, in retrospect, but it’s unclear with everyone in our party would have been able to get their hands on those tests. Plus, they’re not free. Compared with in Europe, availability of the tests has been erratic in the U.S., and recently, many Americans have complained about being unable to find them.
Vaccination Helps People Clear Virus More Quickly
Even though the peak viral load was similar for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the viral load decreased faster for fully vaccinated people with a Delta infection than for unvaccinated people.
This study confirms that COVID-19 vaccination reduces the risk of delta variant infection and also accelerates viral clearance in the context of the delta variant, Wilders-Smith wrote.
Viral load is directly related to infectiousness. Higher viral loads are more likely to lead to transmission of the virus.
The study results suggest that because the viral load of vaccinated people drops off more quickly, their infection may be infectious for a shorter time than for unvaccinated people.
The researchers, though, didnt look specifically at how likely people were to transmit the virus during the later stages of their infection.
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If I Want To Visit Friends And Family Does It Matter Whether We Meet Indoors Or Outdoors
You are better off meeting friends and family outdoors. We know that coronavirus spreads when someone breathes in virus that an infected person emits through coughs or sneezes, or when they talk or breathe. Research has shown that in a confined, laboratory setting, droplets containing viral particles can remain afloat for eight to 14 minutes. Smaller infectious viral particles, called aerosols, can drift around in the air even longer.
Outdoors, air currents are more likely to scatter and dilute the virus, making transmission less likely than in a home, office, or other confined space with limited air circulation. Even outdoors, if you are not fully vaccinated, follow CDC guidance on masking and physical distancing, to reduce risk even further.