Our Covid experience and a physician’s view of how it happens.
As a quadriplegic with weak lung power, the thought of getting Covid is very scary. Even though we’ve been very careful, when the vaccines became available my wife and I got it as soon as possible. After the second vaccine I felt much safer, and wasn’t thinking about the pandemic so much anymore. Then a few weeks ago my wife contracted Covid while visiting her dad in hospice. For the first day we thought it was just a cold so I was exposed to sneezing and coughing, even while being in confined areas such as vehicles. Terry tested positive for Covid, I tested negative. The first few days were stressful, not knowing how far her sickness would progress. Luckily it peaked after a couple of days. We stayed to ourselves, not wanting to spread it to others. Over the next 10 days we quarantined, and weren’t particularly careful between us. We ate together, slept together, and Terry did personal care for me. She experienced a moderate cold for a few days, lost her sense of smell and taste for a few days, and was tired for about a week. After quarantine I still tested negative, she tested positive (we were told she would for up to 90 days). I was very much relieved that her symptoms had gone away, and that I had not contracted Covid. We wondered how the virus never got me, even though we had the same vaccination and I was certainly exposed to the virus.
A friend, Dr Kumar, wrote a piece on a concept called virus load, which made sense of it all. This friend is somebody I have trusted my life to many times as he’s a flight instructor which I have been fortunate enough to experience several sailplane winch-launches, an amazing zoom from 0 to 1000ft in seconds. His regular job is a physician in Lethbridge Alberta Canada, and he has an undergraduate degree involving the study of virology and immunology. I consider him qualified to speak on the subject and trust his opinion. Here is his piece on the subject of virus load:
"If people who are vaccinated can still get COVID and can still spread it, letting only vaccinated people attend things is supposed to stop the spread how?"
I feel there's a need to shed a bit of light on this... maybe others have this thought as well.
It seems most people know by now that the vaccine reduces the severity of the illness you might get. So for that person, getting COVID won't be as severe or lead to needing ICU or ventilator care or death. Agreed? Here’s why.
I am a Canadian physician, MD, specialized in Anesthesiology – an expert in airway and ventilation.
My background prior to medical school was a science degree that included study of immunology and virology. I also worked in a lab that created vaccines as the product was used to prime your immune system to fight something you hadn’t seen in the wild yet.
There is a concept of "viral load", which refers to both how many total virus particles there are circulating inside that person, and also how many virus particles as passed via droplets when that person talks or coughs, etc. You could say that generally the severity of illness is proportional to this "viral load" inside a person. Someone is sicker when they are suffering from a higher viral load to fight off. Generally, this also means each droplet they produce while talking, coughing or sneezing will carry more virus particles. A single cough or sneeze from this person with higher viral load, or even talking at close range will carry a lot more virus particles onto another person than someone with lower viral load! Compare this to someone who has the vaccine - their immune system is primed and better at inhibiting the virus from multiplying from the start so if they do catch COVID, they will have much less total virus in their body at any given time, less viral load that is, and thus less severity of the illness. When such a person coughs or sneezes or talks they spread much less virus per droplet. These droplets have less viral load and they pass on a lower viral load to other people around them if they are unmasked. On the recipient side, think of the vaccine as wearing a water-resistant plastic shirt. If a few droplets of water hit you they will shed off more than a regular cotton shirt. But, if someone comes along with a bucket of water to throw on you....(a high viral load) then you might get a bit wet inside (infected).
So while YES the vaccinated CAN get the virus, and YES they CAN pass it on, it takes a higher viral load to infect them, and they carry much lower viral load and thus shed much lower viral load as well. They are not the same as unvaccinated at all. This is a dramatically effective layer of protection to reduce spread. I hope this explains why transmission is EXPONENTIALLY less between two vaccinated folk and might shed some light on why it is less worrisome for everyone when venues only allow vaccinated people inside.
Pavan – let’s care about each other out there. "
So now I understand why I never caught covid-19. My wife probably encountered a high viral load while visiting hospice that overpowered her vaccine protection, but didn’t get sick enough to transmit to me a high enough viral load to overpower mine. I feel if either one of us were unvaccinated, the outcome would have probably been much more severe. I’m not here to debate or fight about vaccines, masks, rights or whatever, I’m just relaying our experience and the info from a trusted friend.
I’m now once again very careful. There are viral loads out there that can get past the vaccines, especially when encountering the unvaccinated.