No, Risk of COVID-19 Doesn’t Increase After Second Dose of Vaccine
A claim going viral on the internet says that the risk of getting infected with coronavirus increases immediately after taking the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The viral message goes on to claim that a person is more likely to get infected until one and a half months after taking the first dose of the vaccine.
However, we found that the claim and some other claims made in the viral post were fake. We also reached out to Dr Jacob T John, one of India's leading virologists, to verify the claims and he called most of the claims made in viral messages fake.
The viral message claims that our immunity starts decreasing as soon we take the COVID-19 vaccine. It goes on to say that immunity decreases further when you take another dose of the vaccine 28 days after the first dose, increasing the risk of infection.
The message claims that after one and a half months, the body's immunity power increases by 100 to 200 times. The message asks people to take a bath with hot water to prevent a COVID-19 infection.
The message is being shared widely on Facebook. We also received this message WebQoof’s WhatsApp tipline.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We reached out to one of India’s leading virologists who called the claim fake.
We found a report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), that said that there is a possibility of getting a COVID-19 infection after taking the first dose of vaccine. However, we didn’t find any report that says that the chances of getting infected with COVID-19 increases after the second dose of the vaccine.
CLAIM 1: The second dose of the vaccine should be taken 28 days after the first
The DCGI has approved two vaccines for COVID-19 - Covishield and Covaxin. While the advised time difference between the two doses for Covaxin is 28 days, the second dose of Covishield can be taken 6-8 weeks after the first. Recently, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, has said that having a gap of two and a half to three months between the first and second doses will make the vaccine more effective.
CLAIM 2: The vaccine starts making antibodies as soon as it enters the body. During this, immunity in the body decreases.
We couldn’t find any report that validated the claim. According to the report published in JAMA, after taking the first dose of the vaccine, a person only gets partial immunity from COVID-19. The report further adds that it cannot be said how long the immunity after the first dose will last and if it will be enough to protect people from getting the disease, which is why a second dose is necessary.
We also didn’t find any research report, which said that immunity is reduced after taking the vaccine.
Several research reports have revealed that a vaccine is not completely effective, but it reduces the chances of infection in the body, and if the person is not infected, then the risk of COVID-19 is also reduced. The claim that the immunity of the body decreases after taking the first dose of the vaccine is absolutely wrong.Dr Jacob T John
CLAIM 3: Immunity of the body decreases for one and half months after taking the first dose
The data of the second phase of the clinical trial for Covaxin was published in The Lancet journal, which declared it "safe, immunogenic with no serious side effects". While the report did say that the efficacy of the vaccine will be known better after the results of the third phase of the trial, it didn’t say that after taking the second dose of vaccine, the risk of infection of COVID-19 increases.
Dr John also disputes the claim. He says that the vaccine might not be effective against the virus in some cases but it does not increase the chances of infection.
CLAIM 4: Immunity of the body increases by 100 to 200 times
According to Dr John, there is no scale to measure immunity to say as to what percentage or how many times it increases.
It has to be understood that there is no ‘common immunity’ in our body, which can be used against every virus and disease. A different kind of immunity is required to fight different viruses. To fight COVID-19, your body will either have immunity or it won’t. Efforts are being made to develop this immunity by giving the vaccine. But, it does not mean that at first the immunity was less and then it became more.
CLAIM 5: Take a bath with hot water to prevent COVID-19
No report backs this claim that one should take a hot water bath after getting the vaccine to reduce the chances of a COVID-19 infection. Dr Jacob said that while a hot water bath can kill bacteria, COVID-19 is a viral disease and it will not help in its prevention or cure.
Therefore, the claim that the chances of getting infected with COVID-19 increase immediately after taking the second dose of the vaccine is false.
(The story was first published on Quint Hindi and has been translated and republished with permission.)
(This story has been published as a part of The Quint’s COVID-19 fact-check project targeting rural women. It was flagged to us by our partner organisation Video Volunteers.)
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