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Those fully vaccinated with Pfizer are 88% protected against severe cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant — now the dominant coronavirus strain here in the US — according to one new study.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that the Delta variant is responsible for 83.2% of new coronavirus infections. Just two weeks ago, that number was 51.7%.
However, scientists are now reporting that Pfizer’s vaccine provides major protection against the highly infectious Delta variant — but only if you’ve received both doses, according to new research published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Pfizer’s two-dose protocol was initially found to be 94% effective against the original Alpha strain of COVID-19 — the same as Moderna’s version of the mRNA vaccine, whereas Johnson & Johnson’s single jab offers 66.3% protection.
As yet there has been little clear data on the strength of Johnson & Johnson’s or Moderna’s vaccines against the aggressive Delta variant, which is thought to be approximately 225% more infectious than the first strain, according to a recent NPR report.
Pfizer and development partner BioNTech announced on July 8 that they are currently working on a booster shot targeting the new strain.
Those who opted for only one Pfizer dose can count on about 31% increased protection … better than nothing, but not good enough, researchers said of their new study.
New England Journal of Medicine
Meanwhile a spokesperson for Moderna said that research has been “encouraging and reinforce[s] our belief that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should remain protective against newly detected variants,” said CEO Stéphane Bancel, in a statement to investors on June 29. Reassuringly, studies have indeed shown that while Moderna’s debut vaccine won’t be quite as effective against the new variant, their shots were found to boost more antibodies against the fast-moving Delta variant than the now-waning Beta strain.
Those who opted for only one dose of Pfizer’s therapy can count on about 31% increased protection against the Delta variant compared to no shot at all — better than nothing, but not good enough, researchers said of their new study.
“It’s all good news,” said Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland, in a comment to HealthDay about the new study, in which she was not involved. “These mRNA vaccines are really exceeding all of our expectations.”
Doctors insist that a second dose — and subsequent boosters — will be imperative to eliminating the all COVID-19 strains from the population. Too few antibodies circulating could, in fact, help the coronavirus grow stronger as it learned to overpower our immune defenses.
“People should not be concerned if there was a delay, [or] if they missed their appointment for their second dose,” Neuzil added. Go get that last dose now. “It will absolutely still work,” she said. “They will still get a robust immune response, and they don’t need to start over.”
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