More than two months after he was fully vaccinated against Kovid, a doctor in New York woke up with a headache and a dull, heavy feeling of fatigue. A fever and chills soon began, and the craze of his taste and smell began to fade.
This, he thought, could not happen. But it was: He tested positive for coronovirus.
“It was a big shock,” he said. He knew that none of the vaccines were accurate and that the Pfizer-Bayonet shots he received were found to be 95 percent effective in a large clinical trial. “But somehow in my mind, it was 100 percent,” he said.
The doctor, who requested anonymity to protect his privacy, is one of the few reported cases of people who have been infected after being partially or fully vaccinated. About 83 million Americans have received at least one dose of the Kovid vaccine, and it is unclear how many of them will have a “breakthrough” infection, although two new reports suggest the number is much smaller.
One study found that four out of 8,121 fully vaccinated workers at Southwest Medical Center in Dallas became infected. The second found that only seven of the 14,990 workers at UC San Diego Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles tested positive two weeks after receiving a second dose of Pfizer-BioNotech or Modern Vaccines. . Both reports published on Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine show how well vaccines work in the real world, and during periods of acute transmission.
But these success cases, although quite rare, are a sharp reminder that those vaccinated are not invincible, especially when the virus is widely transmitted.
“We really felt strongly that this data should not lead people to say, ‘Let’s get everyone vaccinated and then we can all stop wearing masks,” a contagion from UC San Diego Health Pathologist Dr. Francesca J. Toriani said California study. “These measures will have to continue until a large section of the population gets vaccinated.”
Only a few of the Kovid-positive health workers in the California study showed symptoms, he said, and they suggested being mild, suggesting that the vaccines were protective. Data obtained from vaccine tests suggest that the success infections were mild and did not require hospitalization. Some people had no symptoms, and were only discovered through testing in the study or as part of their medical care.
For example, doctors at the University of North Carolina found some asymptomatic cases in vaccinated patients who had been tested for coronovirus before surgery or other medical procedures, according to Dr. David Wohl, the medical director of that center’s vaccine clinic.
He said the absence of symptoms could mean that the vaccine was doing exactly what it was supposed to do: prevent people from getting sick, even if it did not completely block the virus from infecting it.
Agency spokesman Kristen Nordlund said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a small team to study success cases. One question that researchers are considering is whether coronoviruses may have a role, particularly in cases of success.
“Currently, there is no evidence that Kovid-19 is occurring after vaccination due to virus changes,” Ms. Nordicund said.
In the next few months, Pfizer and Moderna are expected to release data indicating how often the vaccinated people become infected with the virus, even if they have no symptoms. The companies are testing participants in their vaccine trials for antibodies to a protein called N that is part of the coronavirus but not part of the vaccine. Finding those antibodies means that a vaccinated person has become infected with the virus. Some volunteers of the study have also regularly nicked their nostrils to test for an active viral infection.
Another question is how effective the vaccine is in people whose immune system is weakened by disease or drugs, Dr. William Scheffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. Breakthrough cases can occur in those people because their bodies may not respond strongly to a vaccine.
“And it’s amazing how widespread immuno-compromise is,” Dr. Scheffner said. He called the condition “a testament to modern medicine,” because many patients are being treated successfully for conditions that occurred not long ago.
The doctor, who remained ill in New York, remained in isolation at home for about two weeks, despite full immunization. He described his illness as relatively mild, adding that he was treated with monoclonal antibodies to fight the virus. “If the worst flu is 10, it was a four,” he said.
Without the vaccine, he said, he believes he would have gotten sick.
“I would fear for my mortality,” he said. “But I was not worried for a moment. I didn’t think I was going to die. Thinking that you’re not going to die – that’s a big deal. “
Apoorva Mandavili contributed reporting.