NEW ORLEANS — We were curious about some stories that came out in the news after people were vaccinated against COVID.
One was why did Mayor Cantrell have a positive test after her vaccine.
And another is why do some people still get a mild case after being fully vaccinated.
Last week Mayor LaToya Cantrell was denied access to the White House after getting a positive result from a coronavirus test.
“Upon taking that, they gave me a call and said that I had tested positive and I'm like, ‘Oh no, I've never tested positive,’” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.
Shortly afterward she had two more tests that were negative. She had just gotten her first dose COVID vaccine two days earlier. Did that make a difference?
“Getting the vaccine will not give you a false positive test,” said Dr. Bob Garry, Tulane Microbiologist and Immunologist.
Dr. Garry said the PCR tests the mayor had are more than 98 percent accurate. He suspects it was a false positive.
“This apparently is what happened to the mayor. She just happened to be in that unlucky one percent where the test gave a false result,” he explained.
Another question is why are we seeing headlines like the one out of Oregon, where four people tested positive and some have mild symptoms after full vaccine immunity? We know the vaccine does not give you the virus, and the current ones are 95 percent effective.
“That is not 100 percent. You know five people out of 100 are going to get infected and there, the vaccines are going to keep you from getting a severe illness,” said Dr. Garry.
So the vaccines will not necessarily keep you from getting infected when you're exposed to the virus.
“You might just replicate the virus enough to make the test come up positive, but you're either going to be asymptomatic or have very mild illness.”
You breathe the virus in, it starts to multiply, then your immune system fires up and shuts it down, keeping the virus load low so you don't get really sick. This is why a mask is still needed after your vaccine so you don't spread it to others who are not vaccinated.
“Hopefully, when all of us get the vaccine and we drive this virus into the ground, you know, then there won't be a need for masking and social distancing anymore,” said Dr. Garry.
And with vaccine supplies ramping up, that could come sooner than later.
The PCR COVID test that the mayor had is not the rapid test, which is not quite as accurate as the PCR test.