Coronavirus cases among lawmakers who sheltered in lockdown show one vaccine dose may not immediately protect against infection

“Early protection against covid-19 may occur from about 12 days after dose one,” said Naor Bar-Zeev, an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. People “should not really consider themselves protected really until after a week or two following dose two.”

Even though the vaccines may protect people from showing symptoms, those vaccinated could remain susceptible to infection, he said, which is why officials are urging those who have been recently vaccinated to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 95 percent effective after two doses, according to the companies. Pfizer’s vaccine consists of two doses, given two weeks apart and Moderna’s contains two doses given 28 days apart.

Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) tested positive this week. All three of the lawmakers have said they received the first dose of coronavirus vaccine in the days before the riot.

Coleman is a 75-year-old cancer survivor who said last week’s trip to D.C. was her first in months. She wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post she was apprehensive about it because other people at the Capitol might “flout social distancing and mask guidelines.”

Schneider drives from his home near Chicago to Washington to avoid flying because his wife has a health condition that makes her more succeptable to the virus.

The lawmakers were among those who huddled in a crowded room after the capitol was put on lockdown last week. Though large, the windowless room was too full for people to stay distant its occupants — including some who were not wearing masks — spent hours together.

The Office of Attending Physician at the Capitol said Sunday that lawmakers may have been exposed to someone infected with coronavirus while in “protective isolation.” Multiple experts said circumstances point to the likelihood of spread in the lockdown room.

“It’s highly likely — and I think probable — that this is a superspreader event, and these lawmakers caught it from spending time in that room,” said Harvard University environmental health expert Joseph G. Allen.

Krystal Pollitt, an environmental health sciences expert at Yale University, said that as she watched the live feed of lawmakers, even before they were moved to the secure location, “all that could go” through her mind was how dangerous the situation was for transmitting the virus.

“People are projecting their voices, not wearing masks — there’s a lot of people in the space,” Pollitt said. “You see the people sitting opposite of one another; they are right in the plume of others that are speaking.”

Pollitt said based on rough estimates, “you could have a fairly high number of people that are infected” within 90 minutes, she said.

Even a well-functioning HVAC system would be pushed to its boundary, Pollitt said, to sufficiently exchange air and prevent transmission among unmasked people in an closed, windowless room.

“If someone is infectious in that room, others will be infected,” Allen said. “This is just another consequence of a truly shocking and unbelievable day in American history.”

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