(This was first published on 3 March 2021. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives after India started COVID vaccination for anyone above 45 years of age from 1 April.)
A 21-year-old MBBS student from Sion Hospital in Mumbai tested positive for COVID-19 on 28 February, even after he received both doses of the Covishield vaccine.
When the student started showing mild symptoms he was admitted to a hospital, while his colleagues were put under quarantine.
The big question is — can you get COVID-19 despite getting vaccinated? Should we be worried? Here's what we know:
Will I get infected after two doses of COVID-19 vaccine?
You may get infected with COVID-19 even after taking two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Vaccines, however, will help to protect one from severe infection.
To explain this, Dr Shahid Jameel, Virologist and Director at Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, gave an example from his own life.
“I have been taking the flu vaccine for roughly 8-10 years. Before that, if I was infected with the flu, the virus would knock me out for a week. But since the vaccine, I just feel feverish for half a day and then I feel fine.”Dr Shahid Jameel
"Maybe, the student would have gotten a severe infection if he had not taken the vaccine, but instead just got a mild one,” Jameel added.
What are the chances of getting infected?
There is no definite answer for this. The simple fact is that vaccines are not the total solution to the pandemic and should not be seen as such.
Can I transmit COVID-19, if I get infected after taking the vaccine?
Yes. You will very much communicate COVID-19, if you get infected even after receiving two doses of vaccine. You must therefore isolate yourself immediately.
I have received COVID-19 vaccine. Can I stop wearing masks?
Not at all. You must follow the COVID-19 protocols whether you are vaccinated or otherwise, as the pandemic is not yet over.
"This is why we also advise people to keep up their COVID protocol, like wearing masks and maintaining hand hygiene, even after they get their shots. But this should not deter anyone from getting the jab, don’t panic,” Dr Jameel asserts.
How long does it take to develop immunity after the two vaccines?
Dr Jameel explained that post the second booster shot, it takes “around 7-10 days” to develop immunity against COVID-19, especially to develop antibodies.
Again, he reiterated that this doesn't mean you are completely in the clear. So keep your mask on, practice social distancing and hand hygiene even if you have had your vaccines.
Can I skip the second dose of vaccine and still develop anti-bodies?
Not at the moment. In India, both Covishield and Covaxin should be taken in two doses – 28 days apart – to complete vaccination against coronavirus.
(This was first published on FIT and has been republished with permission.)