Breakthrough cases happening, but outcomes starkly different from the unvaccinated

A Calgary man says despite being fully vaccinated, he caught COVID-19. But a week into his illness, he credits his two doses for keeping his symptoms mild.

"I mean it really did just start out as the sniffles, and I thought, you know it's really so easy just to get tested that I'll book it for the next day," says Nevin Demilliano.

"Then I got tested and the result was a surprise."

DeMilliano, 33, got his second dose of Moderna back in June.

"It's pretty manageable, I still have a little sinus pain, but that's about all I'm dealing with other than the loss of taste," DeMilliano said.

Dr. Alain Tremblay is an ICU physician and said while it's impossible to predict what would have happened to someone without the vaccine contracting COVID-19, research shows symptoms are much milder in the vaccinated.

"When we look at studies that's certainly the case," Tremblay said. "People that do get breakthrough infections have milder illness than people who have it without the vaccine."

He also said the likelihood of DeMilliano passing on the virus to others is significantly lower than for an unvaccinated individual. Again, it's possible, but there is a much larger margin of safety.

Tremblay sees the stark contrast everyday he goes to work.

"Only 17 per cent have been vaccinated, fully," Tremblay said of those hospitalized. "In intensive care unit patients it's less than five per cent that have been fully vaccinated."

"The more severe the disease you look at the fewer vaccinated people you find,"he added.

Of the very few vaccinated people with significant illness he says, many have underlying conditions which limit their body's ability to respond to the vaccine.

DeMilliano said that while he still got sick, he feels reassured that the chances are minute that his symptoms will worsen too much.

"Really to me this is a testament of (the vaccine) working as much as it possibly could, and I'm just thankful to have all that research and all that science into it," DeMilliano said.

Currently 69.7 per cent of Albertans age 12 and over have been fully vaccinated. That's just over 59 per cent of the total population.