SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - LSU Health Shreveport experts hosted a COVID-19 informational gathering Wednesday, Feb. 3.
The event featured Dr. John Vanchiere, director of community testing and vaccines, as well as the chief of pediatric infectious diseases, and Dr. Sami Bahna, chief of pediatric allergy-immunology.
According to professor and pediatrics chair Maroun Mhanna, the COVID-19 vaccine takes about one week to 10 days to become effective. Therefore, it is still possible to test positive for the virus, even after getting the vaccine.
Also, in order to ensure maximum effectiveness, it is important to get both doses of the vaccine.
“Using a single dose regimen and/or administering less than the dose studied in the clinical trials without understanding the nature of the depth and duration of protection that it provides is concerning, as there is some indication that the depth of the immune response is associated with the duration of protection provided,” according to a statement from the FDA.
Right now, the only two vaccines available are Pfizer and Moderna. Experts expect the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be approved and distributed next.
Dr. Bahna said there is not enough data, however, to compare the vaccines head-on.
For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Dr. Bahna said it has a 66% efficacy against becoming severely ill as opposed to being 85% effective in protecting against mild to moderate symptoms.
When it comes to new variants, “it is effective to a certain high degree, not completely, against the variants,” Dr. Bahna said.
It is unclear whether the new variants are more likely to re-infect people who have already had the virus. Generally speaking, however, it is rare (but possible) for people to contract COVID-19 a second time, according to Dr. Vanchiere.
He said experts believe the virus has developed 20-25 mutations since the start of the pandemic.
“We’re not looking at worse viruses, they’re just more easily spread from person to person,” Dr. Vanchiere said.
Although the U.K. variant has been found in Louisiana, he said it is not in northwest Louisiana.
“At this point, whether you have a variant or a non-variant doesn’t matter.”
He said one variant is not stronger or more potent than others.