As rising coronavirus infections force some countries to reimpose restrictions, scientists and drugmakers are racing to answer a crucial question: how well do the current vaccines protect against the Delta variant?
On one point, most observers agree. The leading shots, studies show, still offer strong protection against severe disease and hospitalisation.
“Real-world effectiveness studies with a number of vaccines show good protection especially against severe disease,” Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization, told the Financial Times. “The most important priority just now is to scale up vaccination coverage in all countries.”
So called “real-world” analysis of 14,019 cases of the Delta variant in the UK, released by Public Health England in June, found the BioNTech/Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were, respectively, 96 per cent and 92 per cent effective against hospitalisation after two doses.
Late on Thursday, Pfizer reiterated it believed its shot worked against Delta, especially after a potential third booster dose. But it also added it planned to study a variant-targeted inoculation, with trials slated to start as early as next month.