It seems we’re back where we started in this COVID-19 crisis. Despite vaccines being administered, cases continue to rise, and hospitals are to the brim with patients suffering from the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Health experts say the effectiveness of the vaccines against the new variant is declining. While the vaccine does keep most people from being hospitalized, people are still contracting the virus. The Centers for Disease Control is now recommending booster shots.
In a blunt – perhaps troubling – assessment about the need for a third vaccine shot, CDC Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the agency examined numerous cohorts through the end of July, and early August and three points are now clear.
“First, vaccine-induced protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time. Second, vaccine effectiveness against severe disease, hospitalization, and death remains relatively high. And third, vaccine effectiveness is generally decreased against the delta variant,” Walensky said.
Dr. Walensky’s comments come as health officials and medical experts connected to the Biden-Harris administration announced that booster shots would commence Sept. 20.
The statement also arrives the same day as the CDC published its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which reinforced the notion that vaccines alone can’t stop the pandemic.
Safety precautions like wearing masks must coincide with “a layered approach centered on vaccination,” Researchers at the New York State Department of Health and the University at Albany School of Public Health wrote in a new study of vaccine effectiveness across New York state.
Another report that collected data from the Mayo Clinic discovered a 42 percent drop in the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness against the delta variant. The study found the Moderna vaccine proved about 76 percent effective against delta.
Overall, the CDC found effectiveness against infection declined for those living in nursing homes.
The CDC said the vaccine’s effectiveness against delta in nursing homes dropped from 75 percent in March through May, to 53 percent in June and July.
Officials stressed that vaccines remain highly effective against hospitalizations.
“Additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine might be considered for nursing home and long-term care facility residents,” the researchers concluded.
Still, another analysis published by the CDC noted that patients at 21 hospitals in 18 states found sustained protection against hospitalization. In addition, the study revealed that effectiveness remained at 86 percent, despite the uptick in cases caused by delta.
The effectiveness for adults without comprised immune systems also held steady at 90 percent.
“We are concerned that the current strong protection against severe infection, hospitalization, and death could decrease in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or who were vaccinated earlier,” Dr. Walensky declared.