Can you carry, spread COVID-19 even with vaccine? Health officials seek more testing

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — COVID-19 vaccines seem to be right around the corner. And while trials thus far have shown the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing people from getting sick, it’s too early to know if the vaccines will keep people from carrying the virus and spreading it to other people.

“We don’t have any information on that right now,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Dr. Val Arkoosh. “Even once we get vaccines, you’re going to hear me say, ‘You need to continue to wear a mask.’ ”

And that especially applies to health care workers.

Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina agrees, and he said it’s another reason we should be looking at widespread, cheap, at-home testing to stop outbreaks and limit the spread.

“If we get vaccines and masks and (rapid) tests, we can really tackle this,” he said. “We need strategy and we absolutely have to keep frequent testing if you’re vaccinated, then still use these tests. It will catch 99% of new cases that might potentially transmit, so it just makes sense.”

Mina said he’s getting increased bipartisan support from U.S. lawmakers for widespread, paper-strip, at-home tests, which could be rolled out for one-tenth of 1% of what the virus is currently costing.

“Anyone who’s getting distracted about tests because of the vaccines is really in error,” he added. “All of these work synergistically — they don’t just work together, they actually synergize together.”