Hilary Babcock, MD, MPH, infectious disease specialist at Washington University and BJC Healthcare in St. Louis, Missouri, discusses the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination against the delta variant and the low likelihood of breakthrough infection.
In a recent interview, Hilary Babcock, MD, MPH, infectious disease specialist, Washington University and BJC Healthcare in St. Louis, Missouri, highlighted the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination against the delta variant and the low likelihood of breakthrough infection. Babcock said the risk of COVID-19 infection is low in vaccinated individuals, but mask and vaccine mandates will help reduce the spread of the virus.
With prevalence of the delta variant rising, how should messaging be positioned to communicate the risks of the delta variant, even for vaccinated individuals, while continuing to encourage vaccination?
Right now, I think that the risk of the delta variant in vaccinated individuals has been sort of overblown by the sort of excitable reporting around breakthrough cases. What we know is that you are much, much, much less likely to get COVID infection if you are vaccinated. And if you are vaccinated, and you are unlikely and unlucky enough to get COVID anyway after an exposure, which is more likely to happen when COVID rates are high in the community, then you are most likely to have a very mild illness, very unlikely to end up in the hospital, in the [intensive care unit], or to die from that infection. So, the vaccine still continues to provide incredible protection and coverage against COVID, and that's really the most important thing.
The only thing that we need to make clear, though, is that, for those people in that small, unlucky few who may end up with COVID after being vaccinated, it is becoming clear that they could still pass that infection on to someone else. And that's why these recommendations for masking in all indoor spaces, even for vaccinated people in areas where there's a lot of COVID transmission, are still important. Because as a vaccinated person, if I were unlucky enough to get COVID, even if I wasn't very ill, I certainly would not want to pass that to an immunocompromised person, to a child who could not yet get vaccinated, or someone who has not yet gotten vaccinated and have that person end up in the hospital and very, very sick.