COVID19: Fully vaccinated health workers test positive

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Two health workers at Nicosia General’s cardiology ward have tested positive after receiving both jabs of a COVID-19 vaccine in January, confirming initial estimates that vaccines do not prevent mild infection.

A doctor and a technician handling diagnostic equipment in the cardiology ward were found to be among a 10-person cluster, along with another two health workers and six patients.

Investigations found that the cluster was started by a patient who tested negative before being admitted, but a second test returned positive.

The patient had also recently received the first jab of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The other two health workers reportedly opted against vaccination, as 50% of medical staff in state hospitals have yet to come forward to get vaccinated.

Two people lost their lives in recent days despite being vaccinated with the first jab of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, lead scientist advising the government, Dr Constantinos Tsioutis, said, “from data so far, vaccines have proven to prevent people from developing serious symptoms and needing to be hospitalised”.

He said that it remains to be seen whether vaccinated people, who contract the virus, can still pass it on.

“Studies show that people who do not develop symptoms have a low viral load, which makes transmission difficult,” said Tsioutis.

Also commenting on recent cases of vaccinated people contracting the virus, Dr Christos Petrou, advising the government on its vaccination rollout, said vaccines with an efficacy of 90% would mean that 10% will feel some symptoms of the virus.

He added that vaccines could not replace personal protection measures.

“That is why we still have to wear face masks, wash our hands and keep to social distancing.”

Petrou said a vaccinated person who tests positive for the virus would possibly have a low viral load and thus will not easily pass on the virus.

“However, as is the case with other vaccines for the mumps, meningitis and of course the flu, one can become infected and transmit the virus.

“But these vaccines also reduce the severity of symptoms in vaccinated people, so people are usually not hospitalized, pandemics are reduced, and very few people die from infectious and contagious diseases.”

The acting director of the state’s Pharmaceutical Services, Elena Panayiotopoulou, said that some time is needed before vaccinated people develop immunity to the virus.

“The human body develops satisfactory immunity 10 days after the second dose.

“The body then develops a sufficient number of antibodies that can protect it.

“At least two weeks need to pass from the first dose for the body to start developing enough antibodies to protect him from severe disease,” said Panayiotopoulou.

Two people died from COVID-19 after receiving the first jab because “these individuals did not develop enough antibodies to protect themselves against the virus”.

The cases involved a 71-year-old man who passed away on Saturday and a 69-year-old woman. Both had underlying medical conditions and were treated at the Nicosia General’s ICU.