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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Can I shed a virus after I get a vaccine?

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Brought to you by The Echo and Cosmos Magazine

Vaccine. Image Pixabay.

The trouble with misinformation is that it includes elements of misconstrued truth.

We have gone into a series of lockdowns across the country as we try and eliminate COVID-19 transmission in Australia. While Australia is still struggling to achieve an effective vaccine rollout, concerns about shedding coronavirus when out and about have been prevalent over the last year; but what is the truth about shedding after receiving a vaccine?

Some shops in the NSW town of Mullumbimby recently put signs in their windows that read: ‘If you have had the COVID-19 vaccine we ask you not to enter for two weeks or longer until any symptoms subside’. 

The concern was that people who had recently been vaccinated, which is commonly followed by flu-like symptoms, were shedding live virus and were infectious to others. NSW’s north isn’t the only location with such concerns, and restrictions.

So, are vaccinated people shedding virus and putting the community at risk?

Short answer: ‘No’. But this idea may have been born from scenarios where it is possible – it just isn’t the case with our current coronavirus vaccines.

Suspicious guy. Photo shutterstock

Can you shed virus following a vaccination?

Technically yes, but it is extremely rare and only possible with certain types of vaccines.

The oral polio vaccine (OPV) contains a weakened (live) version of the poliovirus and, in some cases, really does revert to its virulent form.

This happens because the weak strain of polio in OPV replicates a little in the gut following vaccination, which gives the body time to recognise the virus and build up defence.

However, this means that if the replicating virus is excreted – pooped out – during this time, it has a chance of remaining in the excrement and spreading upon contact. This becomes a particular problem in regions with poor sanitation and vaccine coverage, which are usually in low socioeconomic areas and countries.

Once it is in this virulent form, the OPV does indeed shed.

This takes a long time though, and that weak virus needs around 12 months to change to a virulent form that can affect an under-immunised community. It’s mostly a problem for these communities because the virus can circulate for longer, giving it extra time to revert, instead of being nipped in the bud.

In 2017, WHO reported that 20 billion doses of OPV had been administered to three billion children worldwide and prevented 13 million cases of polio. Of these administrations, the vaccine-derived polio cases numbered less than 760.

If you need a visual, that would be one grain of rice per 79kg, if each grain was a person who received a vaccine. 

Still, this is possibly the reason behind the idea that shedding can occur following the administration of a vaccine: it was born from truth, but the circumstances are different and the extra information to assuage these fears may not have been easily accessible. 

However, the difference between OPV and the current coronavirus vaccines is that the latter (coronavirus) do not use live virus at all.

Blobs: microscopic view of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Photo NIAID/Wikimedia commons

What is the difference between a live and inactive viral vaccine?

A ‘live’ virus is one that has the ability to replicate – make copies of itself – when in a host. Technically viruses aren’t alive, but we call them live in a similar way to how we say a website has ‘gone live’.

Regardless, the whole purpose and goal of a virus is to make as many copies of itself as it can by invading a cell and hijacking normal cellular processes to meet its objective – this is what we call a live virus, and it can be infectious. It will do its very best to find more cells in which to replicate, and shed from one person in the hope of finding another.

The crucial thing here to remember is that a virus, including one in a vaccine such as OPV, can only mutate and/or shed if it is able to replicate.

On the other hand, an inactive viral particle doesn’t have the ability to replicate, and therefore can’t shed. These come in many different forms.

They could be vaccines that contain:

  • An inactivated, ‘dead’ virus that has been killed by heat or chemical treatment. It can’t replicate, because it is dead. This is what flu vaccines use.
  • A viral vector that has been engineered to prevent replication, containing a little bit of virus code but not enough to actually make more virus. This is what AstraZeneca‘s COVID vaccine uses.
  • An RNA fragment of the virus that makes a viral protein. The body can use the RNA blueprint to make a single protein and learn what it looks like, but there isn’t enough RNA to make all the proteins needed to be a proper virus. This is what the Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines use. 

Now for some fun analogies! If the virus was a dandelion, with all its fluffy, white-topped seeds, a weakened live-virus vaccine would be a sad dandelion. It can still spread, but with difficulty – it doesn’t catch the air very well.

The flu virus would be a squashed, dried dandelion that was soaked in ethanol. We can look at it and recognise it, but no seeds can be spread.

A viral vector would be the white fluff – without the seed – encased in resin. In fact, it might not even be the fluff – it could be a leaf or a yellow petal.

DNA structure.
Image Wikimedia Commons

An mRNA vaccine would be a blueprint of the shell around the seed.

None of the last three have any way of being blown away and hitting somebody else. Ironically, our wish is granted because we can’t blow those dandelion seeds away.

Because none of the coronavirus vaccines contain live virus, they cannot replicate themselves and they cannot shed.

That doesn’t mean you can’t still show COVID-like symptoms following a vaccine shot – it just means you aren’t contagious.

Are you shedding the virus if you have vaccine side effects?

Another reason why it’s easy to think somebody is shedding following a vaccine is because, for a couple of days, they might look quite similar to somebody who is infectious.

It isn’t uncommon to have COVID-like side effects following vaccination – that means your immune system is working.

When our body is invaded by a virus for the first time, white blood cells rush over and start trying to fight it, but this can cause inflammation as the white-blood-cell army rushes in.

Some of their main attacks include trying to burn the virus out (fever) and trying to cough/sneeze dead or infected cells out of our bodies in mucous. This battle uses lots of resources and energy, so our bodies can feel fatigued and achy, as the blood cells ‘borrow’ proteins destined for muscles.

Once the battle has been won, the body’s T-cells remember how the fight played out, so that the next time they see a virus there is no trial and error and they can just hit it hard.

This is why we often have symptoms following a vaccine. But it’s the result of our immune system trying to come up with the best battle plan, not because of the live virus directly hurting the body.

Of course, that means we can still have an immune response without live virus – after all, that’s the whole point – and not shed at all, because your body is responding to something that looks the same but doesn’t behave the same.

Masks help reduce the spread of infections. Photo Pixabay

Similarly, some people have flu-like symptoms when they have an allergic reaction, but they aren’t contagious. They are just having an immune response.

Not all responses are the same because we are individual organisms with different circumstances. So some people won’t have any symptoms and others might need a couple of days off work or school – despite all of them receiving the same vaccine.

It means that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 doesn’t put your community at risk. Instead, it’s at greater risk when there aren’t enough people vaccinated, so it’s still critically important to get your jab.

It’s easy to feel drowned in all the available information, but you aren’t alone. The best places to find more information are your local medical centre or GP, and government health organisations and websites.

As immunisation expert Professor Margie Danchin, group leader of the vaccine uptake group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, told Cosmos in May: ‘People have every right to have questions about these vaccines, and they should have questions.

‘The best way for people to have their concerns addressed is to speak with their healthcare provider.’

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.

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  1. This nonsense appears to manifest in, among others, hairdressers; instances have been recorded in Mullum as well as in Victoria and Queensland..

    Methinks they’ve spent too much time inhaling their industry’s noxious fumes.

  2. “but what is the truth about shedding”…………. shoehorning with another distraction.

    Starting point……… ‘but what is the truth about pandemic’ ?

  3. Again using the straw man tactic, arguing ga point no one is making. Can you shed the spike protein from the mRNA jabs to others causing issues with periods etc? I’m sure you won’t be investigating that because the answer is likely yes.

  4. This article conveniently makes no mention of the covid injection causing the recipient to manufacture and transfer spike proteins to other people. No-one is claiming that people shed live virus. No-one is saying the injection contains live virus. This article, to me, comes across as a deception.
    It is the spike proteins causing the ill health.

  5. People who are in close ” hands on” contact with clients have every right to err on the side of caution until the science is settled on this matter. The science is not settled on any of these jabs…there is simply not enough research possible in the short time. A Facebook group of thousands of people claiming reactions to secondary contact was taken down…especially in women. This article talks about proteins, and not the so called” vaccine’s” spike proteins which have been juiced up and just may shed through sweat glands. Not proven and not disproven. The scientist who was part of the development of Mrna technology, Robert Malone,is one of many who has been quite vocal about the dangers around this world wide rollout and has called for an end to it…and he works with the FDA and the Dept of Defence in USA. Hardly a nonsense opinion.” We don’t have access to the data”..and that include conclusive studies on shedding. Watch this and see a different narrative..And i know it is a difficult time so personal attacks are not helpful. Science is always evolving.

  6. Technically it is possible but I would assume only with people with a viral load ( covid symptoms) related to having had the vaccine.
    I live in Portugal now where we have had a lot of covid. These are my observations from real life experience and a mountain of research.
    1. Having hugged numerous vaccinated people, don’t worry about it so long as they don’t have symptons.
    2. You just don’t catch covid outdoors unless someone coughs on you within close range. Mask wearing outdoors is not only useless but also unhealthy.
    3. Vitamin D @ 4,000 iu daily is a great prophylaxis for covid and any type of virus
    4. Ivermectin is very possibly a better and safer treatment and prophylaxis than any of the vaccines.
    5. Inactivity increases susceptibility to covid.
    6. New study from the US shows that people with covid anti-bodies from either having covid or having been in contact with the virus do not need to be vaccinated.

  7. This could be a useful article if it was appropriately referenced. You have an educated readership please do better. I have read contrary referenced opinion from top virologists. I am interested to see how they compare. Note that I still use “opinion” because even coming from top virologists, government or company websites, there is still insufficient research to make most definitive claims about the rapidly mutating virus and how the new and insufficiency observed vaccines respond. Too many opinion pieces from wanna-be scientists/ self appointed do-gooders. Only clutters the space, does nothing to make any conclusive statement/ useful sharing of information/ or contribution to an enquiry into the topic. If you are a virologist, speak up. If you are sharing your direct experience, speak up. If you have questions speak up. If you are just regurgitating stuff you read somewhere, unless you are going to include current and valid referencing, please stop.

  8. ‘The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’ sends shivers down my spine..perhaps another quote maybe less damaging to the thinking mind.

  9. This article, whilst it may or may not allay peoples fears around the shedding of a live virus in some traditional vaccines, completely mischaracterises the concerns (negligently IMO) many well informed people have about being in proximity with those who have submitted themselves to the experimental prophylactic mRNA injections that are euphemistically being touted as ‘vaccines’. Their actual concern is the potential “shedding of the pathogenic S1 spike protein as reported by Americas Front Line Doctors (AFLDS), “the spike proteins are pathogenic (‘disease causing’) just like the full virus.” Furthermore, these “spike proteins bind more tightly than the fully intact virus” and thus cases around the world of “pericarditis, shingles, pneumonia, blood clots in the extremities and brain, Bell’s Palsy, vaginal bleeding and miscarriages have been reported in persons who are near persons who have been vaccinated.” Such shedding also “appears to be causing wide variety of autoimmune disease (where the body attacks its own tissue) in some persons.” “. Since there is strong anecdotal evidence but not (yet at least) any widely accepted scientific proof either way that this is or isn’t happening we should at the very minimum err on the side of caution and respect the wishes of those who do not want to be exposed to potentially harmful “shedding” by those who have decided to be participants in this global experimental drug trail which has already been linked to tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries around the world. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/americas-frontline-doctors-covid-vaccinated-can-shed-spike-protein-harming-unvaccinated

  10. Yeah sorry, wrong topic.
    Has this non existent pandemic justified the draconian measures including the violations of human rights against Australian citizens ?
    No, never.

  11. Ignorance is still strong up this part of the world-Spike proteins, self centred me people, the list goes on , just keep your ignorance to yourself, it so bad you could make a comedy out of it.

  12. Cosmos Magazine is RiAus………. ‘receives financial and in-kind support from members, corporate partners and donors’.

    Cosmos…… paid by government and corporate paymasters.

    • Cosmos Magazine’s science journalist Deborah Devis………… entered university 2011…………. waitress 2014…….. PhD 2016 – 2019

      It’s her job……… and probably saving for a mortgage.

  13. Well lets see. Vaccine creators genetically engineered the spike protein to remain attached to target cells. Not the case now, so it seems, as it is now being found throughout the body, especially within the ovaries of women that have been vaccinated and within brain cells.
    Now we being told that the spike protein is harmless because it is biologically “inactive”. That also appears to NOT be the case. The lines between fact and what they is fact are very very blurred.
    That has been the case countless times throughout history and yet her we are being told that vaccine manufacturers have ALL the facts. “Fool me once…..”


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