Vaccinated people may still have to quarantine, says Steven Van Gucht

Vaccinated people may still have to quarantine, says Steven Van Gucht
Illustration image. Credit: Belga

It is possible that people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 once the vaccines are available, will still have to quarantine, health officials said during a press conference on Friday.

"It is not yet clear whether the vaccine will also protect us against an infection," said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht, adding that vaccinated people might still carry the virus.

"Of a number of vaccines, we know that they protect against the disease - 60 to 90% depending on the vaccine - but we do not yet really know whether the vaccine will also protect us against the infection," he said.

"Perhaps we can still be carriers of the virus and not develop any symptoms after all. That is potentially a risk," Van Gucht said.

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As long as the exact effect of a vaccine is not clear, we will have to assume that people will still have to be quarantined, even after vaccination.

"Certainly when those people also come into contact with someone who has an increased risk of complications," he added.

However, as more and more people are vaccinated, fewer and fewer people will have to go into quarantine. "Less virus will circulate, fewer infections will be detected and the need to go into quarantine will decrease," said Van Gucht, adding that there is not enough data available to make clear statements about this now.

Additionally, it is not entirely clear yet whether all population groups will be eligible for a vaccine, according to Van Gucht, who referred to pregnant women, for example, as they have not yet been included in the clinical trials.

People with a very weak or even no immune system, because of a genetic disorder or because of a cancer treatment that has brought the immune system to a standstill, for example.

"These people can, in principle, be given the vaccine as it does not contain a live virus and therefore do not pose a risk. However, they may not respond to it, and may not build up immunity to the virus," Van Gucht said.

For those people, in particular, herd immunity is very important, according to him. "Also, other people, who do have a healthy immune system, should be vaccinated to the maximum, so that the virus can no longer circulate," Van Gucht said.

"This then creates a protective cover of vaccinated people around those who cannot build up immunity themselves, a so-called 'love vaccination'," he added.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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