In January, I covered the biological basis of the newly emerging COVID-19 vaccines. However, since the vaccine rollout became more widespread, an increasing hesitancy to take the vaccine has arisen. This may be for various reasons, such as COVID infection post-vaccination or simply not trusting the science behind vaccination. If it is the latter, it may be worth disposing of any item in your house made by those in a scientific research background, as they too will have little value to you (paracetamol should be dumped as quickly as possible, for your safety). Scientific research, be it biological, chemical, or physical usually underpins modern medicine. Whether that is research into the way in which the human body works, designing new drugs to treat infection, or invention/refinement of diagnostic machinery. The value of research cannot be understated.
It is important to be clear that vaccinations have never and will never be linked to an overarching plan in which the vaccine is inadvertently used to bring people harm. You have every right to refuse a vaccine but spreading misinformation to those yet to receive it will cause more harm than the vaccine itself. This post will follow on from a previous post “What is the COVID-19 vaccine?”, and address some points raised by people hesitant to receive the vaccine.
Double-vaccinated and still contracted COVID
In early June, I tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced symptoms even after being double vaccinated. As a follow-up to the previous article addressing common misconceptions of the vaccine, it is doubly important to address the narrative that the vaccine is not effective. So, the main question is: How can I be vaccinated, but still get COVID?
There are three administered vaccines within the UK (Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech), all follow the same mRNA-vaccine technology as discussed previously, but they each have varying rates of protection. However, the consensus is that after a single dose of the vaccine the likelihood of symptomatic infection decreases by 70% (Bernal et al., 2021), with this likelihood decreasing further after the second dosage. This means you are 70% less likely to be symptomatic. Like all vaccines, they do not offer 100% protection (McNeil, 2020). However, there is an important concept known as cost-effectiveness. This principle balances the cost of the disease against the cost of vaccination (McNeil, 2020). Therefore, if the cost of the vaccine outweighs the cost of the disease the vaccine is unlikely to be administered or researched. In the case of COVID-19, the cost of the disease outweighs the cost of the vaccine. With the COVID-19 vaccine, the rate of hospitalisation decreased by 76% after the first phase of the vaccine rollout in the UK (Lintern, 2021). If that isn’t enough proof that getting the vaccine is a positive thing, let’s delve deeper.
It is completely possible and the case for most vaccines that you can contract the disease after being inoculated, this can be for a range of reasons which you can read up on here: http://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/disease-vaccinated-populations
The most relevant factor on this list for COVID is the evolution and changing of the virus itself, the most concerning of the variants is the Delta variant (B.1.617.2). This variant was first found in India and has an increased transmission rate as well as decreasing the vaccine’s efficiency. While the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine retains 79% effectiveness against the delta variant, Oxford-AstraZeneca’s effectiveness ranges between 60-73% effective (The Covid Delta variant: how effective are the vaccines?, 2021). Therefore, worst-case scenario there is a 40% chance you may still contract COVID-19.
So, should you still get the vaccine? In short, yes. The vaccine prepares your immune system for infection by a COVID virus of a similar kind regardless of strain. Whilst the Delta strain is able to infect due to relative unfamiliarity at first, the vaccine provides your body with the means to deal with it upon recognition. Viruses and all pathogens aim to avoid the immune system. The variants of COVID-19 are able to do exactly that for a short period of time when they arise as a new variant, thus infection. However, once recognised, the body can adapt to the variant quickly and trigger an effective immune response clearing the infection much faster than without. In my case, symptoms included: mild headache, loss of taste and smell, and fatigue.
So, what’s the point if you’re still able to get COVID? The answer is protection against serious symptoms and the condition called long-covid. I recovered from COVID in 5 days, and during that time I was able to function relatively normally. Furthermore, my taste was lost for a maximum of 6 days. Whereas others who suffered from COVID whilst unvaccinated have claimed their sense of smell and taste was lost for a month or even longer (Marshall, 2021). In addition, the vaccine prevents COVID from being able to replicate as much as it would normally within the cells that support your sensory neurones in the nose (responsible for taste and smell), therefore lessening the symptomatic presentation and time it takes for the body to recover.
I trust the above clarifies but Cedric can forward me any further concerns which I shall look into, schedule depending.
Bernal, J. L., Andrews, N., Gower, C., Robertson, C., Stowe, J., Tessier, E., … & Ramsay, M. (2021). Effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines on covid-19 related symptoms, hospital admissions, and mortality in older adults in England: test negative case-control study. bmj, 373.
Guardian, the. 2021. The Covid Delta variant: how effective are the vaccines?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 June 2021].
Lintern, S., (2021). Vaccines cut Covid hospitalisations in England by 76%, new research shows. [online] The Independent. Available at: [Accessed 15 June 2021].
Marshall, M. (2021). COVID’s toll on smell and taste: what scientists do and don’t know. Nature, 589(7842), 342-343.
McNeil, S. (2020). Overview of vaccine efficacy and vaccine effectiveness. Canadian Center for Vaccinology. https://www. who. int/infl uenza_ vaccines_plan/resources/Session4_VEffi cacy_VEff ectiveness. PDF.
Vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk. 2020. Disease in vaccinated populations | Vaccine Knowledge. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 June 2021].