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.

Source – https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.11.12.21265796v1