Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines were found highly effective against the Delta variant
A highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus, first found in India, accounts for more than six per cent of all infections in the US, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday.
The variant, also known as B.1.617.2, has spread to over 60 countries and is responsible for more than 60 per cent of the infections in the UK.
“It’s essentially taking over” Great Britain, said leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, as he cautioned against the rapid spread of this variant whose transmissibility “appears to be greater” than the Alpha strain in the US.
“We cannot let that happen in the United States, which is such a powerful argument for vaccination,” he said, while speaking at a White House Covid briefing as he insisted on the importance of vaccines to combat the spread of the virus.
Referring to the data from Public Health England, he said two doses Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca “appears to be effective” against the Delta variant.
The study from Britain’s public health agency revealed that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines were 88 per cent effective against the Delta variant as compared to 93 per cent effectiveness against the Alpha variant, which was the dominant strain in the US.
Noting the importance of the second dose, Dr Fauci said that while after three weeks, both the vaccines had the efficacy of 33 per cent against the Delta variant, the data showed that it was the second dose that strongly boosted the immunity against the virus.
Dr Fauci further said that the virus transmission is “peaking” among 12 to 20 years old in Britain, adding that it is this group that “we’re concerned about” getting vaccinated.
Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, however, noted that the infection rate in the US is continuing to decline and that “just over 10,000 new cases of Covid-19” were reported on Monday with a seven-day average of around13,277.
It is the first time since 27 March last year, that the average has fallen to under 15,000, Ms Walensky said.
“Each week there are more and more data to demonstrate the impact vaccination has on preventing disease and moving us out of this pandemic,” she said.
But the daily vaccination has dropped in the US from 3.4 million per day in April to about 1 million doses a day, forcing the administration to consider expanding its vaccination effort to include hard-to-reach groups to meet the target of immunising 70 per cent of Americans by 4 July.
But with 15.5 million unvaccinated adults, the Biden administration is unlikely to meet its goal, reported the Associated Press.