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Ottawa nurse tests positive for coronavirus after receiving COVID-19 vaccine

Click to play video: 'Ottawa nurse reacts after testing positive for coronavirus, post-vaccine' Ottawa nurse reacts after testing positive for coronavirus, post-vaccine
Santosh Baral says he was speechless when he found out he was COVID-19 positive more than a week after receiving his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine – Jan 28, 2021

An Ottawa nurse says he was “speechless” when he found out he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, because just a few days earlier he had received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“When my manager told me that I tested positive, I couldn’t speak for a while,” Santosh Baral tells Global News.

Baral was among Ottawa’s front-line health-care workers to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first week of the local distribution campaign in mid-December.

Read more: How long will the COVID-19 vaccine protect you? Here’s what we know so far

He says he received his first dose on Dec. 18, 2020 and his second dose on Jan. 8.

A few days after he received the second injection, Baral says he tested negative for the coronavirus as part of a routine test on Jan. 13.

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But a week later, on Jan. 20, the test came back positive.

Though he says he is always diligent about following his workplace’s COVID-19 safety protocols, Baral says he immediately started scanning his memory, thinking of where he could have been exposed to the virus.

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“I felt… very guilty. Maybe I missed something,” he says.

But he says he also spoke to a few experts who offered varying explanations for his post-vaccine infection.

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Among the biggest caveats of the Pfizer vaccine — as well as Moderna’s version, the only other vaccine currently approved by Health Canada — is an efficacy rating of roughly 95 per cent.

That means that in clinical trials of the vaccine, 19 out of 20 people who received the jab showed protection against the virus, while the remaining five per cent did not.

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“I could be the five per cent, right?” Baral says.

It also takes a period of up to 10 days after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to achieve full immunity. Baral says it’s possible he contracted the virus in the period between his first post-vaccine test and his second a week later.

Read more: Officials insist Canada still on track for 4M Pfizer doses by March despite planning data

So far, Baral is experiencing no symptoms but is self-isolating at home. One of the other unknowns about the vaccine is whether those who are inoculated can still spread the virus.

Despite his positive test, Baral remains high on COVID-19 vaccination. But while he encourages others to get the jab, he also says it shouldn’t be treated as a free pass to ignore public health advice such as wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance.

“I don’t want to discourage people to have a vaccine, but if you got the vaccine, you still need to follow the precautions,” he says.

— With files from Global News’s Bryan Mullan

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