6 vaccinated people got the delta variant from an outdoor wedding; the 4 who had the Moderna or Pfizer version recovered

houston wedding delta variant
Photo via Andrew Davies/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

An outdoor wedding held in Houston in April attempted to follow COVID-19 protocols, even when the delta variant of the virus wasn’t well-known at the time.

All 92 guests were required to be fully vaccinated, and the event was held outdoors. However, six people who attended the wedding were infected anyway, and an attendee who traveled from India and was inoculated with the Covaxin vaccine died about a month after the ceremony. 

The Houston wedding delta variant nightmare story is the subject of a pre-print study conducted by Baylor College of Medicine researchers, attempting to shed additional light on the delta variant’s transmissibility and virulence—as well as how the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines perform against the delta variant. 

“All the current data shows robust ability to block serious illness from the delta variant,” said Tim Farinholt, one of the study’s authors, in the Houston Chronicle’s story about the wedding. “It’s not to scare, it’s to remain cautious that the pandemic is not over and to remain vigilant. It’s for people to know just because you’re vaccinated doesn’t mean you can go back to 2019 living.”

That story noted that the six people who were infected all tested positive for the delta variant, with three of them (two vaccinated with Covaxin, one vaccinated with Pfizer) being hospitalized. Three of the wedding guests who caught COVID-19 and were vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna had mild symptoms such as fevers, coughs, and fatigue, but they recovered on their own. 

“The vaccine didn’t absolutely prevent you from getting infected,” said Dr. Pei-yong Shi, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, who independently reviewed the pre-print for the Chronicle. “But one of the major benefits is that it keeps you from getting really sick.”

Both Covaxin recipients, the man who died and his wife, had traveled from India for the wedding. According to Forbes, both tested negative for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus prior to boarding the airplane, traveling to Houston 10 days after receiving their second doses of the Covaxin BBV152 vaccine.

Yahoo’s account of the case study adds that the study’s authors suspect that the travelers from India introduced the virus to the other wedding attendees. The four other people who contracted COVID-19 at the wedding reported having close encounters with the Indian couple. 

The Chronicle article pointed out that the study still underscores some general recommendations about vaccinations. 

“Unvaccinated individuals make up the majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths reported in the U.S. in recent weeks, according to infectious diseases specialists,” that article pointed out. “Of the tiny share—less than 3% in the Baylor study—who are vaccinated and catch severe infections, most have other comorbidities or are immunosuppressed. One of the patients who contracted severe illness had diabetes and received a monoclonal antibody infusion treatment. The patient who died did not have a chronic illness, but was over 65, an age group at increased risk of serious infections.” 

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Sources: MedRxiv, Houston Chronicle, Forbes, Yahoo 

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