Dr. Lopez Hoyos, immunologist: "Vaccines do not eliminate the virus, it is a wrong message"

Spain has entered a scenario of high risk of contagion for coronavirus. The current average incidence, according to data provided by the Ministry of Health (this Friday), is already at 323 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The stage, a few days from the Christmas, it appears disturbing. The doctor Marcos López Hoyos, President of the Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI), head of the immunology service of the Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla de Santander and scientific director of the IDIVAL Research Institute talks with THE PERIODIC OF SPAIN, a newspaper belonging to the same communication group as this medium, about the scenario in which our country enters just before the holidays and about the reasons why the contagions and hospital pressure continues to rise in Spain despite having 90% of the target population vaccinated.

The sixth wave of the coronavirus continues to grow despite the fact that each percentage of vaccinated in our country is 90%. How should it be interpreted?

The vaccines They stop the infection because they reduce the spread of the virus but, in no case, are they sterilizing, so they do not eliminate the possibility of infecting ourselves, what they eliminate is the possibility of serious disease, both in the first and second doses, and even in the third dose. What we are inducing is an immune response that will prevent the illness, but not the infection and contagions and that is very important for people to know.

Even with a third booster dose?

As for the third dose, of the few data that exist, because there is still very little vaccinated population, we have, for example, those from Israel. In this country, a study has shown that in vaccinated patients they clearly reduce mortality. In addition, I insist, the rise in infection in Spain, in the third dose, has not yet had time to analyze it. If we talk about a specific case, such as the one that happened with the health workers in Malaga (who already had the third dose of the vaccine against covid) there was no time for it to take effect because, if I'm not mistaken, they had put it on a week before, with which there was no margin for there to be a sufficient immune response.

So, yes, you must think that this third dose is effective..

The third dose is given above all with the populations that had not responded well to the previous two. In fact, now the third dose is proposed as a reinforcement (currently it is administered to social health personnel and those over 60 years of age) but at first it has been used to complete vaccination in groups such as transplant patients or elderly people who had not responded to the previous two, what was done was to complete the pattern to see if they could respond. That is important to remember.

"The more we enhance the immune response, the more difficult we are going to put it on the virus and the possibility of dissemination is more difficult. Let that be clear"

In any case, going back to the increase in infections in Spain. Has being vaccinated given us false security against the virus?

What we want is to vaccinate people to avoid the disease. Infection is also somewhat reduced, but the effect on infectivity is not so clear. With which, we are going to have people even with third dose infections. Although it is true that the more we enhance the immune response, the more difficult, we are going to put it on the virus and the possibility of dissemination is more difficult. Let that be clear. So go ahead with vaccinating.

And is that message the one that may not be clear among the population?

People think: 'I've been vaccinated and I'm going to remove the face mask because I'm not going to be contaminated. ' No. It is not like that. We are here to insist: do not trust yourself, that the vaccine is protecting you from the disease, but not completely from the infection. Not at all. I insist: they reduce, but they do not prevent infection. What prevents it is being with a mask, not having intimate contact between non-cohabitants, spaces with ventilation ... And that is the message that must be launched this Christmas. Vaccines are not sterilizing; that is to say, that they eliminate or kill the virus. In this case they do not. What they do is boost the immune response. We know that they reduce mortality by up to 40% more than in non-vaccinated patients, but in infection this effect is not so clear. In addition, when the vaccinated person becomes infected, they transmit the same amount of viral load as an unvaccinated person.

"If there are 35 million immunized people in Spain today, if one hundred of that number enter, it is not the same effect as if one hundred of the other 13 million who are not immunized enter"

With the current incidence in Spain, what data should be handled when talking about the effect of immunization?

At a time when people are vaccinated and, when infected, sometimes asymptomatic, it is more important to manage the data of hospitalization of disease and admission to ICU than the infected data. The higher the number, the hospital pressure will increase. Increased infections are not always accompanied by increased income. When we talk about the same number of inmates immunized as non-immunized, it is because we put the data into perspective wrong. You have to look at the percentage of those vaccinated who enter, compared to those who have not received their doses. If there are 35 million immunized people in Spain today, if one hundred of that number enter, it is not the same effect as if one hundred of the other 13 million who are unimmunized enter.


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