The Delta variant is now the most dominant COVID-19 “variant of concern” in the United States, accounting for an estimated 51.7% of new cases as of July 3, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projections.
Recent Google searches show that many people are now wondering how effective the COVID-19 vaccines are in protecting them against the highly transmissible variant of the virus.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use effective against the Delta variant?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use are effective against the Delta variant.
WHAT WE FOUND
According to the CDC, the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. are effective and offer protection against most variants, including the Delta variant.
Similarly, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist for the World Health Organization (WHO), said on a recent “Science in 5” podcast episode that “all of the WHO emergency use listed vaccines do protect against developing severe disease, hospitalization and death due to the Delta variant.”
Dr. Swaminathan says that being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 offers the most protection against the virus and its variants.
“There are studies now from countries where there is a predominance of the Delta variant to show that people who've been vaccinated are much less likely to end up in the hospital,” said Swaminathan. “You need the full course of vaccination in order to give you that full immunity to protect you against the Delta variant.”
Public Health England, the executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom, said on June 14 that their Delta variant analysis suggested “the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalisation [sic] after 2 doses” and “the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation [sic] after 2 doses.” The health agency said in a press release that their analysis included 14,019 cases of the Delta variant – 166 of whom were hospitalized – between April 12 and June 4.
Moderna announced on June 29 that results from in vitro neutralization studies of sera from people vaccinated with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine “produced neutralizing titers against all variants tested,” including the Delta variant.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson announced on July 1 “data that demonstrated its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine generated strong, persistent activity against the rapidly spreading Delta variant and other highly prevalent SARS-CoV-2 viral variants.”
On July 5, the Ministry of Health of Israel announced that epidemiological analysis conducted by their researchers beginning on June 6 showed “the effectiveness of the [Pfizer-BioNTech] vaccine decreased to 64% in preventing infection and 64% in preventing symptomatic illness.” According to the health agency, the decrease was observed simultaneously with the spread of the Delta variant in the country. However, Israeli health officials also said “the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing serious illness and hospitalization cases is estimated at 93%.”
A Pfizer spokesperson told VERIFY that a recent lab study published in Nature and another study conducted in the United Kingdom found that the real-world effectiveness of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was “only modestly reduced to 87.9%” against the Delta variant and other variants of concern.
As of July 7, CDC data shows that 47.6% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Now, as the Delta variant spreads across the U.S., the Biden administration has announced it is mobilizing COVID-19 surge response teams in “communities at higher risk for or already experiencing outbreaks due to the spread of the Delta variant and their low vaccination rate.”
“Millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk. Their friends are at risk. The people they care about are at risk. This is an even bigger concern because of the Delta variant,” President Joe Biden said on July 6. “The good news is that our vaccinations are highly effective. Fully vaccinated Americans have a high degree of protection, including against this Delta variant.”
The COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. are free and accessible to everyone who wants one. To make a vaccination appointment, click here.
More from VERIFY: Yes, a fully vaccinated person exposed to the Delta variant could transmit COVID-19 to others
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