For the past few months, many Americans have struggled to calculate the new risk level of daily activities after being vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s likely because of the Delta variant and because of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research that found that vaccinated people who got Delta carried about the same viral load of COVID-19 as unvaccinated people — calling into question whether vaccinated people with COVID-19 can transmit the virus.
As cases of Delta have exploded across the country in the past few months, overwhelming hospitals, filling children’s ICUs, and maxing out ventilator capacity, vaccinated Americans have wondered what their actual risk of getting COVID-19, or getting seriously ill with COVID-19, really is.
Is it safe to go to a concert? The movies? A restaurant? These questions are one thing for a vaccinated adult with no children, but for parents of kids, the threat of a breakthrough infection or getting their kids sick has made vaccination a small solace until kids can also be inoculated against COVID-19.
In the meantime, there is at least some good news: New research first surfaced by The New York Times has found that the chances of the average, fully vaccinated American contracting COVID-19 are about 1 in 5,000 per day.
Those risks could even be as low as 1 in 10,000 in highly vaccinated areas with few cases like Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
The New York Times puts it this way: “Here’s one way to think about the one-in-10,000 daily chance: It would take more than three months for the combined risk to reach just 1 percent.” The risk of contracting COVID-19 if you’re unvaccinated is much, much higher.
The data was configured based on statistics from Utah, Virginia, and the King County region of Washington state. These three regions, per the Times, kept detailed data on the infection rate and vaccination status of its residents. The numbers don’t include undiagnosed cases of COVID-19.
This research is great because it provides peace of mind for vaccinated people to understand their level of risk while doing daily activities. It also provides another data point showing that viral load isn’t as scary as people think it is. Even if a vaccinated person and an unvaccinated person carry the same viral load, that viral load in an unvaccinated person will not “prevail” in making the vaccinated person very sick. And a vaccinated person may only have a high viral load for a short period of time at the beginning of their infection.
For parents of unvaccinated children, all of this means that being fully vaccinated provides a powerful shield of immunity around their as-of-yet unvaccinated kids. That being said, it may not change the daily lifestyle of parents who are concerned about their children getting COVID-19. But it does mean that once kids can get vaccinated, they will have a powerful immunity ally in the name of these super-effective COVID-19 vaccines.