AstraZeneca Vaccine. | Alejandro García

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There’s been a lot of debate about how efficient the coronavirus vaccines are and whether it’s possible to contract the disease even after you’ve had both jabs.

Here’s some clarification from Antonio Oliver, Head of the Microbiology Laboratory at Son Espases Hospital in Palma.

Can someone vaccinated be re-infected?

“Things are not white or black, it's much less likely, but it can happen. It influences the level of antibodies. After being vaccinated or infected the type of antibody can vary, for example it's not the same after three months as it is after a year. Then there is the virus factor itself, the more it varies since, the easier it will be to be reinfected. There have been cases, which are documented, but there are less than 1%."

Can a reinfection be as severe as it was the first time?

“Normally it’s much less serious. There can always be an unexpected exception. Protection, even partial, doesn’t prevent reinfection but it does make the infection milder."

Should prevention be maintained after the vaccine?

“People are less likely to become infected after vaccination and if they are, it’s usually mild or asymptomatic and is not transmitted so easily."

Can you rest easy now?

“No, while there is no change in the epidemiological situation, it’s better to go beyond the necessary measures than to fall short, the risk is lower but it’s not zero."

With the new variants, do we need to vaccinate more?

"The variants that appear confer an immune escape to the vaccine. Even if you had 100% of the population vaccinated, there is a part that escapes. 70% immunity would be ideal if all strains were completely sensitive, so more people should be vaccinated."

The so-called British strain has been detected in 85% of Balearic cases, are some people more easily infected?

"Behavioural and environmental factors are involved in the infection, it depends mainly on mobility, but there are various factors that make one person more susceptible to infection than another. Receptors against the virus can vary, due to genetics, age, obesity and chronic pathologies determine the severity of the infection."

Are the doubts about AstraZeneca unfounded?

“It’s important to monitor all records of vaccine side effects very closely. I don't know if it was necessary to stop the vaccination campaign or if that was a response to media commotion, but it must be reviewed because it is worrying. It should also be noted that any common drug has serious side effects in one in a million cases."

When will the effects of the vaccination programme be noticed?

“I have no doubt that, if there is a fourth wave, which is possible, it will be less intense and less lethal, precisely because the older and more vulnerable have been vaccinated. I think it's already noticeable, there are no more infections in Nursing Homes, the change there has been drastic. When will it disappear completely? I don't know. On Friday, 40 of the 43 new infections reported in the Balearic Islands were in Mallorca. The epidemiological situation is still complicated in Sóller, it’s more controlled in Inca than it was the week before, but it's growing in Marratxí, with 21 cases diagnosed in the last seven days.

The cumulative incidence rate in Mallorca now stands at 53.23 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days.