Why are vaccinated Olympic athletes testing positive for COVID-19?

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games approaches, we’re learning more about positive COVID-19 cases among athletes who say they’re fully vaccinated.

OhioHealth infectious disease expert Dr. Joseph Gastaldo said being in Tokyo for the Olympics is a high-risk situation, adding vaccination numbers play a key role in preventing positive tests anywhere for people who have received the shot.

It’s all about environments, which Gastaldo said could be the tipping point.

“In the setting of being around a lot of COVID activity, especially with more people not being vaccinated and the delta variant, it’s riskier for people who are fully vaccinated to actually get infected, whether it be asymptomatic infection or infection that results in mild symptoms,” he said.

That is what is happening in Tokyo with Olympic athletes testing positive for the virus despite being fully vaccinated.

Gastaldo said people have to remember the vaccine is a layer of protection and those who are vaccinated can still get sick with mild symptoms. They may not be contagious, however.

“Recent studies have supported that those who are fully vaccinated who have asymptomatic infection have infection with a very low viral load and they’re not considered to be of high risk of being contagious,” he said.

The Ohio Department of Health is only tracking breakthrough cases involving hospitalization or death. Breakthrough cases refer to those who have been vaccinated but still contract the disease.

An ODH spokesperson said as of July 14, Ohio is reporting 184 breakthrough hospitalizations and 29 breakthrough deaths — .003 percent and .0005 percent of all fully vaccinated Ohioans respectively.

“That’s really strong proof that the vaccines are performing well,” Gastaldo said. “We have vaccinated a significant amount of people in the state of Ohio. A few, a couple hundred breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths are to be expected. No vaccine is 100 percent. There are people out there who have weakened immune systems.”

Gastaldo said the best way to protect yourself from getting sick is to get the vaccine, and if you can’t for health reasons or the vaccine isn’t available due to age, continue wearing a mask.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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