A woman receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at an immunization clinic at the Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday, May 14, 2021. Gurdwara leadership reached out to the Sikh community and registered and booked a total of 800 people for vaccinations during two clinics held in the dining hall of their temple last week and Friday. The East Newton neighbourhood is an area that Fraser Health has identified as one where a high rate of COVID-19 transmission is still occurring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A woman receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at an immunization clinic at the Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday, May 14, 2021. Gurdwara leadership reached out to the Sikh community and registered and booked a total of 800 people for vaccinations during two clinics held in the dining hall of their temple last week and Friday. The East Newton neighbourhood is an area that Fraser Health has identified as one where a high rate of COVID-19 transmission is still occurring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vaccinated? You’re 10x less likely to catch and transmit COVID-19, but risk remains

Independent modelling group says that asymptomatic spread makes contact tracing more difficult

The risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19 is 10 times lower if you’re fully vaccinated, according to an independent modelling group.

The B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group, made up of scientists from three major B.C. universities, released its seventh report last week.

The data was presented in a video by University of B.C. associate professor of mathematics Eric Cytrynbaum.

“Not only can vaccinated individuals get infected and pass it on, they often do so asymptomatically, which makes contact tracing – still an important tool in keeping the virus under control – much more difficult to carry out,” Cytrynbaum said.

“This is one of the arguments in favour of continuing to mask, even when fully vaccinated.”

Cases overall are showing a marked increase since B.C. entered Step 3 of its reopening plan, which saw the mask mandate lifted and a loosening of restrictions for various gatherings. The province saw 243 cases on Friday, up from 45 cases two weeks ago on July 16.

READ MORE: Will B.C. see a 4th wave? Researcher says it’s a battle of vaccines versus the variants

“This upturn here is mostly driven by what’s going on in the B.C. Interior,” Cytrynbaum said. With 131 cases reported Friday, Interior Health is responsible for more than half of the day’s cases across the province despite having about 15 per cent of the population.

Cytrynbaum said that it’s unclear which of lower vaccination rates (than in the Lower Mainland or on Vancouver Island), the Delta variant or less masking are driving the increase.

The UBC professor said that despite breakthrough cases – where vaccinated people are infected with COVID – the vaccines provide a high level of protection. Communities where 70 per cent of the people ages 12 and up have at least one dose have a five times higher rate of COVID infections than those with 90 per cent vaccination rates.

“Clearly, vaccination across a community is having an influence on the propagation of infections,” Cytrynbaum said. As of Friday, 81.1 per cent of people ages 12 and up in B.C. have gotten their first dose of a COVID vaccine, with 64.9 having received their second dose.

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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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