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Risk of COVID-19 from fully vaccinated travellers not zero, but still low

Last Updated Jul 17, 2021 at 8:13 am PDT

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto early Monday, February 22, 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that all travellers entering Canada by air would have to quarantine in a hotel for three days at their own expense starting later today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

News that Canada may soon welcome fully vaccinated U.S. travellers comes as COVID-19 cases rise in some states, but infectious disease experts say the risk posed by vaccinated visitors is low.

Doctor Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist in Mississauga, Ont., says risk of transmission from fully vaccinated individuals is not zero, but it’s very low.

He adds that a fully vaccinated person can still catch COVID-19, though it happens rarely and illness is less severe when it does occur.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated Thursday that Canada could reopen the border to fully vaccinated Americans by mid-August, with immunized travellers from across the globe following suit by early September.

Fifty-five per cent of Americans were at least partially vaccinated as of yesterday, with 48 per cent fully vaccinated.

Canada’s vaccine rate was nearing 70 per cent of the total population, including 47 per cent fully jabbed.

The U.S. recorded more than 35,000 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, up from 12,000 daily cases a month ago. The country was averaging 250,000 cases in January before its vaccine rollout sped up.