Last year, it was a race to see which country would be the first to produce an effective vaccine for COVID-19. Now, there are several of them available on the market.
However, now the problem is that the COVID-19 coronavirus is mutating. The latest variant, Delta, is running rampant across the globe.
Scientists are wondering how much protection vaccines can provide against these variants.
An article in Medical News Today has the details.
What Is the Delta Variant?
The delta variant is a mutation of COVID-19 coronavirus. This simply means that there is an alteration in the virus’s genetic material.
The COVID-19 coronavirus has about 30,000 base pairs of amino acids in its genetic material. An alteration in any of these base pairs can cause a mutation, changing the shape and behavior of the virus.
Symptoms of Delta Variant
Doctors say that the primary symptoms of a delta variant infection are different from COVID-19.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, continuous cough, and loss of smell or taste. On the other hand, the main symptoms of the delta variant are headache, sore throat, and runny nose. It may sound like a bad cold. But if you have these symptoms, don’t dismiss them. Instead, stay at home and get tested.
Why Is It a New Problem?
Scientists first identified the Delta variant in India in December 2020. By April the following year, it had become the most commonly spread variant. The World Health Organization reported the variant in 80 countries.
Professor Wendy Barclay is the head of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College in London, UK. She says that the delta variant is more transmissible than the previous one. And it is more likely to need treatment in a hospital.
According to Public Health England (PHE), the delta variant may currently be the most dominant one in the UK.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He reported that the delta variant spreads very quickly among unvaccinated people. So any country with a large proportion of unvaccinated people will have a surge of infections.
This is a cause for concern as it could give rise to another COVID-19 wave, negatively impacting efforts to ease pandemic restrictions worldwide.
The question now is, how well will COVID-19 vaccines work against the delta variant.
Insights into the Research
To help answer this question, the PHE analyzed how many people infected with the delta variant needed treatment in the hospital.
Researchers noted all symptomatic cases admitted to the hospital between April 12 and June 4, 2021. They gathered data from the Emergency Care DataSet, which records all patient admissions via emergency departments in England. They also included any hospitalizations within 14 days of a positive test.
There were 14,019 patients infected with the delta variant. Only 166 people were hospitalized.
Research Results on the Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccines Against the Delta Variant
Here are some of the statistics highlights in the report:
The effectiveness of a vaccine was based on how effectively it prevented hospitalization for the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.
It’s important to note that researchers measured any symptomatic case, regardless of the severity.
- After the first dose- 71%
- After two doses- 92%
The Pfizer vaccine
- After the first dose- 94%
- After two doses- 96%
The research showed that, overall, the need for hospitalization among patients with Delta was less in vaccinated people than unvaccinated individuals. Additionally, they noted that vaccine effectiveness was higher after the second dose of any vaccine.
However, the report has not been reviewed by peers yet.
What About Other Vaccines?
While the above research offers interesting results about the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, additional research continues about the effectiveness of other vaccines against newly-emerged variants.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
In another study supported by Moderna Inc, scientists conducted clinical trials on eight vaccinated volunteers. Their goal was to investigate how well antibodies from individuals who received the Moderna vaccine could neutralize the variants.
The team investigated the delta variant as well as others, such as the alpha variant (first identified in the UK) and beta variant (first identified in South Africa).
The researchers found that antibodies from these individuals could effectively neutralize a virus that carries the spike protein present on delta variant mutations.
So antibodies generated in response to the Moderna vaccine are effective in dealing with several variants of COVID-19. Again, this study has not been reviewed by peers yet.
The Indian Council of Medical Research and Bharat Biotech International conducted a small study. These scientists co-developed the Covaxin vaccine. The study reports on the effectiveness of the vaccine against the delta variant.
Covaxin is made from an entire, chemically altered COVID-19 coronavirus. This prevents it from replicating.
So a person who receives the vaccine makes antibodies of the different parts of the virus. If one part of the virus does mutate, the antibodies produced in response to the vaccine should still offer enough protection against any variants.
However, researchers could not find how effectively vaccinated individuals were at neutralizing the virus variant in their lab study. But despite this, they stated that the vaccine’s “neutralization potential is well established.”
Since the study was small, further research is needed to understand whether Covaxin is effective. Testing in real-life settings may be a better approach.
Sputnik V Vaccine
Sputnik V is a Russian vaccine developed by Gamaleya Institute with 91.6% efficacy.
The company announced on Twitter their vaccine is more efficient against the delta variant. The study offered by Gamaleya Center has been submitted for publication in an international peer-reviewed journal.
However, the validity of the statements issued about the Sputnik V vaccine is yet to be confirmed.
The company said it would offer a booster shot soon specifically to fight the delta variant.
Over to You
Overall, news from Public Health England shows that 2-dose COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the Delta variant.
If you haven’t received a vaccine yet, you need to book an appointment as soon as possible. It’s important to get both doses to gain maximum protection against all existing and emerging variants.
Trending Latest News