Fact Check: Passengers testing positive on cruise ship is not proof that COVID-19 vaccines do not work

Fact Check: Passengers testing positive on cruise ship is not proof that COVID-19 vaccines do not work

Posts shared online claim that vaccinated passengers testing positive for the COVID-19 virus on a cruise ship is an indication that COVID-19 vaccines do not work. But this is missing context.

While no vaccine protects completely from the virus, studies have shown vaccines do significantly reduce the chances of contracting the virus and developing severe illness or hospitalization. Passengers testing positive on a cruise ship that requested they be vaccinated is not proof that the vaccines do not work.

The text on one post reads: “Almost like the shot is useless.” Comments on the posts include: “It’s not about health, it’s about control”, “It’s planned eugenics. Stay away from the shot!”, “Doing all they can to keep the COVID scam alive. Pathetic” and “That’s not how this was supposed to work”.

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean said on June 10 that two guests on board its Celebrity Millennium ship had tested positive for COVID-19, but were asymptomatic and placed in isolation. The guests, who were sharing a room, were monitored by the company’s medical team, the cruise operator said, adding that it was conducting contact tracing, expediting testing for all close contacts of the individuals.

Though the ship required passengers to be vaccinated, “Celebrity did not provide any details on the vaccination background of the two people who tested positive.”

The three COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen, were granted authorization for emergency use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late last year.

Pfizer/BioNTech has said its vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95%, Moderna 94.1% and Johnson & Johnson 66%, in preventing COVID-19 in respective trials.

Moderna has also reported a 100% rate of protection against severe effects of COVID-19, while Pfizer said 10 severe cases of the disease were reported in its Phase III trial – nine of which were in the placebo group and just one in the vaccine group.

In a trial of nearly 44,000 people, Johnson & Johnson found its vaccine to have 72% protection against moderate and severe COVID-19 in the United States.

While there is still a chance that a vaccinated person may contract the virus (a study by the CDC on post-vaccine breakthrough cases [is available]), the probability of contagion as well as the risk for severe illness and hospitalization is significantly reduced.

A Reuters’ graphic shows that infections have decreased where vaccination rates are higher. An analysis by The Washington Post shows the same trend.

In comparison, the COVID-19 vaccines appear to be more effective than the seasonal influenza vaccine, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. For the 2019-2020 influenza season, the influenza vaccine was about 39% effective.

Verdict: Missing context. Fully vaccinated passengers testing positive for the COVID-19 virus on a cruise ship is not proof that the vaccines do not work. COVID-19 vaccines significantly reduce the risk for contracting the virus, as well as the risk for severe illness and hospitalization.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about its fact-checking work at https://www.reuters.com/fact-check/about. For the original article with several links to the sources mentioned, including social media posts and statistics, visit Reuters.com