BOSTON.COM – Getting the COVID-19 vaccine may not only offer protection against severe complications from the disease.
It may also decrease the odds that individuals who get the virus spread it to others — and we’re getting a better idea why.
According to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, vaccinated individuals who contract COVID-19 may be less likely to spread the virus because they “shed” it for a shorter period of time than unvaccinated people who are infected.
Researchers found that breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals cleared in an average of 5.5 days, roughly two days quicker than infections in unvaccinated individuals, who remained contagious for an average of 7.5 days.
While it’s possible that people with breakthrough cases are still as infectious as unvaccinated people during the early stages of their infection, the study authors wrote that their shorter infectiousness period means they’re less likely to spread the virus over time.
The findings backs up the consensus among health experts that vaccinated individuals are less likely to spread COVID-19, though the exact reason had been somewhat muddled.
Following the emergence of the more contagious delta variant this summer, some health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested that the reason fully vaccinated individuals could transmit the new strain easier than previous variants was because it resulted in a higher peak viral load — or higher level of virus particles — in the infected individual.
However, the new Harvard study suggests that notion isn’t correct … READ MORE.