Those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus may still be able to pass on the virus and make someone who has not yet received a vaccine ill, Sciensano virologist Steven Van Gucht warned on Friday.
This, in part, is due to vaccines being focused – and tested – on whether or not they protect against disease, with little research done into the effect on the infection itself or the infectiousness of vaccinated people.
As a result, there is still much uncertainty about the effect of the vaccines on the infectiousness of people, Van Gucht explained during the press conference of the health agency Sciensano and the Crisis Centre.
“We have to assume that vaccinated people can still be carriers of the virus. And just because they develop fewer or no symptoms, they can unwittingly and unintentionally spread the virus,” Van Gucht explained. “Those risks will eventually decrease as soon as all risk groups have been vaccinated. But that will only be towards the end of spring, beginning of summer”
This view has been supported by a British study into the vaccine by AstraZeneca, which showed that the fully vaccinated had a smaller chance of being infected – around 50% – but not no chance.
“The first effects can only be seen when fairly high vaccination coverage is achieved. So in Belgium too, we are going to have to be patient for a while before we start seeing effects,” he added.