Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022

Are Vaccinated People At Risk From The Unvaccinated? What We Know

The new study shows that the choice to not get vaccinated doesn't just affect the unvaccinated but also those around them who have had vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccination PTI photo

A new study has found that when unvaccinated people mix with the vaccinated, a substantial number of new infections would occuer in people who have had Covid-19 vaccines. 

The new study, published on Monday by researchers from Canada's University of Toronto, means that the choice to not get vaccinated does not just affect the unvaccinated people but also those around them who have had vaccines.

The study is significant in light of individual choice versus public health debate regarding coronavirus vaccines, particularly in the West where vaccine mandates have turned out to be very controversial.

What did the findings say?

The modelling study explored the effect of intermixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated people to understand the dynamics of coronavirus infections. The researchers simulated mixing of vaccinated people with vaccinated and vaccinated with unvaccinated people.

David Earn of the McMaster University told Canada-based media outlet Toronto Star that vaccinated were taking one for the team. "The more mixing there is between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, the better the unvaccinated do,"  he said. However, the studies don't spell good news for those with the vaccine as the more they mix with the unvaccinated, the higher their attack rate.

David Fisman of the University of Toronto said in a statement, "Many opponents of vaccine mandates have framed vaccine adoption as a matter of individual choice. However, we found that the choices made by people who forgo vaccination contribute disproportionately to risk among those who do get vaccinated."

Study important to policymakers, say authors

The study's authors have noted that their findings would help make policies around vaccination. They said, "Forgoing vaccination can't be considered to affect only the unvaccinated, but also those around them. Considerations around equity and justice for people who do choose to be vaccinated, as well as those who choose not to be, need to be considered in the formulation of vaccination policy."

Authors highlighted that while the decision to not take a vaccine is one's individual right, such an act overlooks the potential harm to the wider community. 

"The risk for vaccinated individuals is driven disproportionately by their interactions with unvaccinated individuals," said University of Toronto's Fisman in an interview with Toronto Star.

(With PTI inputs)