Nearly 70 ICU staff in Spain have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending their hospital’s holiday party, according to Reuters. Prior to the rally, all of those who tested positive either had a negative rapid antigen test or had received a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Authorities are still trying to locate the source of the outbreak. But medical staff from the regional university hospital attended a party on December 1 at a restaurant in the city of Malaga, Initiated reports. Of the 173 people in total, 68 tested positive. So far, nurses and doctors have shown only mild symptoms, and it is not yet clear which variant is causing these infections. (Spain has at least seven cases of the omicron variant so far.) All those who tested positive have been isolated and their shifts have been covered.
While it’s certainly worrying to see a superspreader event, it’s not a complete surprise. As SELF has previously reported, rapid antigenic testing is not foolproof. In a Cochrane review published in March 2021, the researchers looked at 58 studies evaluating the accuracy of the rapid antigen test. On average, rapid antigenic tests correctly identified COVID-19 infections 72% of the time, but that was only in people with visible symptoms. For people without symptoms, testing correctly identified 58% of people with COVID-19.
The fact that party animals only experience mild symptoms is also a good thing. As the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that recent data suggests that the vaccine’s ability to prevent infection in frontline healthcare workers has declined over time. « This lower efficacy is likely due to the combination of waning protection over time since vaccination, as well as the greater infectivity of the delta variant, » the CDC explains. (It is not yet clear how infectious the omicron variant can be compared to delta.)
Clinical trials suggest that the boosters help improve the immune response against the coronavirus. « With an increased immune response, people should have better protection against COVID-19, including the delta variant, » the CDC said. (Research is ongoing to see how vaccines, including booster shots, can protect against omicron.)
But “improved” still doesn’t make us virus-proof. “COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing most infections. However, like other vaccines, they are not 100% effective ”, CDC Explain. However, when vaccinated or vaccinated people get sick, their symptoms are milder and they are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than unvaccinated people. They can also reduce your risk of COVID long. So, like other highly recommended vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines are always worth receiving even if they are not guaranteed to fully protect you against disease. And getting more people vaccinated is crucial to prevent the emergence of new variants of COVID-19, which continue to emerge because too few people are protected against the virus.
While vaccines and boosters can go a long way in the fight against COVID-19, they are most effective when paired with other public health measures, such as wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, according to the CDC. Is it fun wearing face masks somewhere like a crowded holiday party whenever you don’t eat or drink (or decide you actually get your fix before the party so you can mask yourself all the time) ? Nope. But at least there are some cute options that can make you feel a little more festive while doing so.