Good Protection After Complete Vaccination
All of the experts that DW interviewed voiced confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccines against the delta variant. “The vaccinations are fantastic,” said virologist Friedemann Weber of the University of Giessen, for example. “The immune response in vaccinated people who have received both doses and wait accordingly, is higher on average, or as high as for people who have received an immune response after an infection,” he explained.
Scientific findings support the expert’s assessment.
A number of studies have shown that full vaccination offers strong protection against the delta variant
According to a recent study published in the journal Nature, a double vaccination from BioNTech-Pfizer continues to protect strongly against the delta variant. However, new data from Israel rates protective effectiveness against the delta variant as somewhat lower than against previous variations.
The Israeli health department announced in a press release that the effectiveness of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine against the delta variant in terms of completely preventing infection has fallen to 64%.
Nevertheless, the vaccination continues to protect 93% of individuals from serious infection with hospitalization. It is not transparent how the Israeli health department got the data. So far, the press office has not provided any more detailed information on the procedure in the study despite DW’s request.
Unvaccinated People Are At Risk
In the U.S., there is a disproportionate number of unvaccinated people in Southern and Appalachian states including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and West Virginia, where vaccination rates are low, but cases are rising in other parts of the country as well. In September, health leaders in Idaho, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, expanded health care rationing throughout the state after the Delta surge led to a scarcity of resources for all hospitalized patients.
Children, teenagers, and young adults are a concern, too. A study from the United Kingdom showed that children and adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with Delta, says Dr. Yildirim. The U.S. has allowed Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations for adolescents and teenagers since May, and, in early November, the CDC approved FDA authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-17.
As older age groups get vaccinated, those who are younger and unvaccinated will be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 with any variant, says Dr. Yildirim. But Delta seems to be impacting younger age groups more than previous variants.
Covid Vaccines Still Effective Against Delta Variant
Senior health, science and environment reporter
Having two doses of Covid vaccine remains the best way to protect against the Delta variant, first identified in India and now dominant in the UK.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, though initially less effective, offers the same high protection as the Pfizer-BioNTech after four to five months, the largest study of its kind suggests.
But neither is as effective as it is against the Alpha variant, responsible for most UK infections last winter.
There is insufficient data for Moderna.
But researchers believe it “almost certainly at least as good as the others”.
They analysed two and a half million tests results from 743,526 participants in the UK’s Covid-19 household-infection survey – led by Oxford University and the Office for National Statistics.
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What Do We Know About Omicron
The Omicron variant was first detected in Southern Africa in November and has since spread worldwide, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and disrupt travel.
Two studies from the United Kingdom, which have not been peer-reviewed, suggested people infected with Omicron are up to 70 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital than those infected with the Delta variant.
Scientists and medical experts have been cautious in reporting milder symptoms associated with Omicron.
It is unclear if the evidence of milder symptoms and fewer severe cases of Omicron is because of characteristics of the variant or due to people having greater immunity due to COVID-19 vaccines and prior infection.
Moderna Prepared To Reformulate Vaccine For Omicron If Needed
The delta variant, for example, remains the most contagious version of the virus, he said, but the vaccines have still proven to offer protection against it.
ACenters for Disease Control and Prevention study, published in September, found that when the delta variant became dominant in the summer, unvaccinated people were 4½ times more likely to become infected, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to die of Covid, compared with vaccinated individuals.
In other words, the existing vaccines worked against the delta variant.
“So it wasnt necessary to manufacture and roll out a variant vaccine” specific to delta at that time, Moore said. “Thats a huge, I mean, huge investment, when you have to go and make new products and get it checked out by the FDA, even if its under a fast track procedure,” he said, referring to the Food and Drug Administration.
The beta variant, first identified in South Africa, was another strain also once thought to necessitate an updated version of the vaccine. Indeed, the existing vaccines were significantly less protective against infection with beta, but the variant never spread widely in North America, Europe and other parts of the world like delta did, he said. It might have been necessary to develop a shot for beta but the variant didn’t take off, he added.
“Whether or not they would need to roll a new vaccine out depends on a significant number of unknowns that will emerge in the next few weeks,” he said.
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Limitations Of The Study
The researchers behind the new study acknowledge several limitations. Since the Delta variant was dominant during the study period, the findings concerning natural immunity may not apply to infections with other variants of SARS-CoV-2.
Also, the analysis only included the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine, so the results may not apply to people with other types of COVID-19 vaccine.
Other limitations include a possible underestimation of asymptomatic infections, as these cases are often not tested or recorded.
Finally, the analysis did not account for factors such as social distancing and mask wearing, and this may have affected the results.
Why Is The Cdc Recommending Vaccinated People Should Continue To Wear A Mask
The short answer: The Delta variant is more contagious than previous variants of COVID-19. Although vaccinated people spread it less, even the small action of wearing a mask can help in reducing the potential for spreading the disease.
The details: Due to high community transmission and the potential for vaccinated people to spread the virus, it is crucial to have safeguards in place to help reduce spread. This means having everyone who is able including people who are vaccinated wear masks indoors in public places. This also includes things we have been doing throughout the pandemic, including reducing the time we spend in crowds, keeping our distance from people we dont live with, and wearing masks.
While cases in the community are high, its important to do everything we can to help prevent the spread. Wearing a mask for now while improving vaccination rates can help slow the spread until more people are protected with the vaccine.
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Vaccines 90% Effective Against Adult Deaths
In the most recent results of the UK observational study, a team led by a University of Edinburgh researcher estimated the odds of COVID-19 death among 114,706 vaccinated and unvaccinated Scottish adults who tested positive for COVID-19 from Apr 1 to Aug 16, 2021, and were followed up until Sep 27.
Vaccinees had received one or two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines. Relative to the vaccinated, unvaccinated adults tended to be much younger, have fewer chronic conditions, have lower socioeconomic status, and be men. Whole-genome sequencing showed that nearly all infections were caused by Delta.
Of 201 total COVID-19 deaths, none occurred among the 7,180 fully vaccinated participants 16 to 39 years old, compared with 17 among the 35,449 unvaccinated participants in that age-group . Of participants aged 40 to 59, 33 deaths occurred among the 4,803 unvaccinated participants , versus 18 among 12,905 in the fully vaccinated group .
Overall effectiveness against death from Delta infections at least 14 days after the second vaccine dose was 90% for Pfizer and 91% for AstraZeneca.
Among 40- to 59-year-olds, the vaccines were 88% effective against death for AstraZeneca and 95% for Pfizer. Overall effectiveness against death was 90% with AstraZeneca and 87% with Pfizer among those 60 years and older.
“If you still have not taken up your offer to be vaccinated, I would encourage you to do so based on the clear benefits it offers.”
Are Mrna Vaccines Better Than Vector Vaccines
Earlier data from the UK had indicated slightly higher effectiveness of the two mRNA vaccines against hospitalization than the Israeli data showed: According to a PHE study, one dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccination is said to hinder severe illness with hospitalization as a result of the the delta variant by up to 94%, with protection rising to 96% after the second dose.
The PHE study said people vaccinated with AstraZeneca are 71% protected from having a severe course of illness with hospitalization after the first vaccination, and 92% after the second.
According to another study published by PHE, the vaccines also protect against symptomatic reactions to possible infection with the delta variant. In it, BioNTech-Pfizer shows 36% protection against symptomatic disease after the first dose and 88% after the second. AstraZeneca showed 30% protection after the first dose and 67% after the second.
The study results indicate that the delta variant is more resistant to the vaccines but that full vaccination continues to provide strong protection even against this variant.
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Covid Vaccines Protect Against Delta But Their Effectiveness Wanes
A UK study suggests that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant after two doses, although the protection they offer begins to fall after 30 days.Credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty
The PfizerBioNTech and OxfordAstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the highly infectious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 but their protection drops away over time, a study of infections in the United Kingdom has concluded.
Researchers at the University of Oxford, UK, and the countrys Office for National Statistics analysed a vast data set comprising the results of 2,580,021 PCR tests to check for SARS-CoV-2 from 384,543 UK adults between 1 December 2020 and 16 May 2021 when the Alpha variant was dominant and 811,624 test results from 358,983 people between 17 May and 1 August 2021, when the Delta variant was more prevalent.
The results, published in a preprint on 19 August, suggest that both vaccines are effective against Delta after two doses, but that the protection they offer wanes with time. The vaccine made by Pfizer in New York City and BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, was 92% effective at keeping people from developing a high viral load a high concentration of the virus in their test samples 14 days after the second dose. But the vaccines effectiveness fell to 90%, 85% and 78% after 30, 60 and 90 days, respectively.
A Third Dose Of Covid
Israel became the first country to widely administer an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people at higher risk. Currently, people 60 or older can get a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a booster.
The Israeli Health Ministry said its decision was based on national health statistics, which suggested that people vaccinated in April appeared to have 75 percent protection against infection, while protection for people vaccinated in January dropped to as low as 16 percent.
Venky Soundararajan, PhD, who led the abovementioned Mayo Clinic study, said a Moderna booster shot is also in the works. It may be recommended for people who got the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines earlier this year.
Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany, have also approved third doses to be administered to people who do not mount a proper immune response after getting their initial two doses.
The United States is also one of them.
The CDC has so far only recommended a three-shot regimen to boost protection for immunocompromised people, such as organ transplant recipients and people with cancer, who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
The United States also has a booster plan that would offer people either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna boosters 8 months after their second dose. The rollout is expected to start Sept. 20.
Moderna also said on Sept. 9 that its working on a single vaccine that combines both a COVID-19 booster dose and a flu shot.
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The Johnson & Johnson Covid
Theres little data that shows how effective the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine is at protecting against the Delta variant.
Alpha versus Delta
A clinical trial suggests the vaccine is 85 percent effective against severe disease. In the study, it demonstrated strong, persistent protection against hospitalization and death.
Another study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed and only examined 27 people, suggests the J& J vaccine is 67 percent effective against the Delta variant.
The study also found the vaccine produced fewer antibodies against Delta than it did for the Alpha variant, but scientists say it may not accurately reflect the vaccines real-life performance.
The most recent findings, and the only real-life data, are from South Africa, which suggests that the vaccine offers about 71 percent protection against hospitalization when the Delta variant dominates.
Estimated effectiveness of J& J COVID-19 vaccine
As with other vaccines, the J& J vaccine shows a slight dip in effectiveness against the Delta variant, but more comprehensive studies are needed to reach a definitive answer.
What Is The Risk Of Reinfection With Omicron
A large-scale South African preliminary study, , surveyed nearly three million people infected with Covid. It found that the risk of reinfection from the omicron variant is three times higher than for the delta and beta strains of the virus.
The authors concluded: “Evidence suggests that the omicron variant is associated with substantial ability to evade immunity from prior infection.”
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‘help Push Delta Out’
Participants in this study have likely been previously infected, and more than half were vaccinated, the study said.
Therefore, it is unclear if what we observe is effective cross-neutralisation of Delta virus by Omicron elicited antibodies, or activation of antibody immunity from previous infection and/or vaccination.
Alex Sigal, a professor at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa, said that if Omicron was less pathogenic, it “will help push Delta out”.
The increase neutralising immunity against Omicron was expected that is the virus these individuals were infected with, he wrote on Twitter on Monday.
However, we also saw that the same people especially those who were vaccinated developed enhanced immunity to the Delta variant.
Vaccines Vs Delta Variant
Since the Delta variant emerged, scientists have been trying to establish whether the current COVID-19 vaccines are as effective against it.
Recent studies show theres been a slight decrease in observed effectiveness since March, when the Delta variant only made up 7 percent of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
By the time July rolled around, this figure skyrocketed to 94 percent.
Scientists say immunity may wane over time and new more infectious variants in a population may affect vaccine effectiveness, among many other factors.
However, according to the latest study released by the CDC, unvaccinated people are over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than vaccinated people.
Unvaccinated people are also 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated people, the study found.
We broke down what the current data says. New research could mean this data will change over time.
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If Youre Waiting For Your Second Dose Will Your First Vaccine Provide Any Protection Against Delta
Absolutely! The New England Journal of Medicine paper reported 25.2 to 35.7% effectiveness after one dose of either vaccine against the Delta variant.
So even one dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca will give you some protection against Delta. And set you on the path to getting even better protection from your second dose.
Omicron Symptoms: What They Are And How The New Covid Variant Differs From Previous Strains
Everything you need to know about the new variant, including slowing its transmission and the protection offered by vaccines and boosters
The omicron variant, which has double the number of mutations compared to the delta variant, is highly contagious and has led to cases being found worldwide.
The UK confirmed the presence of omicron, which was first detected in South Africa, on Nov 27.
The doubling rate of omicron in some regions is now down to less than two days, and weekly hospitalisations are up by 10 per cent nationally, the Prime Minister said in a press conference on Wednesday 15 December.
Prof Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “It looks as if delta which has been with us for a while is still flat, and the growth is omicron.
“So what we’ve got is two epidemics, on top of one another, an existing delta epidemic, roughly flat, and a very rapidly growing omicron epidemic on top of it.”
However, the Prime Minister praised the public’s response to the Government’s booster drive.
Over 55 per cent of adults in the UK have been boosted, with a record number of 968,665 booster jabs administered on Tuesday Dec. 21 alone.
However, while over 31.6 million booster vaccines have been administered in the UK, – with a total of 840,038 booster and third doses of Covid vaccines reported..
Below, we have answered the key questions about the variant, the vaccines, and what the future may hold:
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What Has Who Said About The Omicron Variant
The World Health Organization has said that omicron has been detected worldwide, stating that the highly mutated variant could have a “major impact” on the trajectory of the pandemic.
Dr Tedros, head of WHO, told a recent press briefing: “Certain features of omicron including its global spread and large number of mutations suggest it could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic. Exactly what that impact will be is still difficult to know, but we are now starting to see a consistent picture rapid increase in transmission.”
He urged governments to urgently take action to curb Covid transmission in the face of omicron and the still dominant delta strain.
“Even though we still need answers to some crucial questions, we are not defenceless against omicron or delta,” he said. “The steps countries take today and in the coming days and weeks will determine how Omicron unfolds. If countries wait until their hospitals start to fill up, it’s too late. Don’t wait. Act now.
“We’re running out of ways to say this but we will keep saying it. All of us. Every government and every individual must use all the tools we have right now.”
Dr Tedos also warned that travel bans are unlikely to be effective to halt omicron’s spread now the new variant has been widely identified.
She said reducing transmission and increasing vaccinations is key to ending the pandemic.
This article is kept updated with the latest advice.