Background The extent to which vaccinated persons who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 contribute to transmission is unclear. During a SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant outbreak among incarcerated persons with high vaccination rates in a federal prison, we assessed markers of viral shedding in vaccinated and unvaccinated persons. Methods Consenting incarcerated persons with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection provided mid-turbinate nasal specimens daily for 10 consecutive days and reported symptom data via questionnaire. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), viral whole genome sequencing, and viral culture was performed on these nasal specimens. Duration of RT-PCR positivity and viral culture positivity was assessed using survival analysis. Results A total of 978 specimens were provided by 95 participants, of whom 78 (82%) were fully vaccinated and 17 (18%) were not fully vaccinated. No significant differences were detected in duration of RT-PCR positivity among fully vaccinated participants (median: 13 days) versus those not fully vaccinated (median: 13 days; p=0.50), or in duration of culture positivity (medians: 5 days and 5 days; p=0.29). Among fully vaccinated participants, overall duration of culture positivity was shorter among Moderna vaccine recipients versus Pfizer (p=0.048) or Janssen (p=0.003) vaccine recipients. Conclusions As this field continues to develop, clinicians and public health practitioners should consider vaccinated persons who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 to be no less infectious than unvaccinated persons. These findings are critically important, especially in congregate settings where viral transmission can lead to large outbreaks.
Competing Interest Statement
The authors have declared no competing interest.
This study was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Paper in collection COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv