Delta variant: Expert on vaccines’ impact on transmissibility

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A team of researchers in France has analysed the efficacy of Covid vaccines in a large-scale study of the country’s vaccinated population. The study, which was published on Monday, found vaccines are effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, even when exposed to the more contagious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. More than six billion doses of Covid vaccines have already been administered globally, and many nations are now rolling out booster shot programmes.

According to the French researchers, vaccines offer great protection against severe Covid complications and death.

The study looked at some 22 million people over the age of 50, and determined those who were vaccinated were 90 percent less likely to be hospitalised or die.

The research was carried out by the independent research group Epi-Phare.

And the findings are in line with similar research carried out in the UK, US and Israel.

A study published in the Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), for instance, found vaccines remain up to 80 percent effective even eight months after the jab.

Another study found vaccines are up to 97 percent effective at preventing ICU admissions for severe Covid.

The French researchers analysed data first collected in December 2020, more than a year after the novel coronavirus first appeared in China.

At the time, France began its vaccine rollout.

The researchers compared the data of 11 million people who had been vaccinated with the data of 11 million who haven’t.

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They paired up vaccinated and unvaccinated people based on their sex, age and location and monitored their health from the time of the vaccinated person’s second jab up until July 20.

Just two weeks after the second dose was administered, the researchers noted a 90 percent reduction in the risk of severe Covid complications.

Vaccines also appear to be just as effective against the Delta variant of coronavirus, which is more easily transmittable.

The study found vaccines offer 84 percent protection against Delta complications for people over the age of 75, and 92 percent protection for people aged 50 to 75.

More importantly, the preliminary data suggests protection against Covid did not significantly wane up to five months after vaccination.

However, the researchers noted the figures only based on a month’s worth of observations as the variant did not become dominant in France until June this year.

Mahmoud Zureik, the head of Epi-Phare, told AFP: “The study should be followed up to include results from August and September.”

The vaccines covered by the study include the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech jabs.

The Jannsen vaccine was not included as it was not rolled out until later in France and has not been used as widely.

Here in the UK, more than 49 million people have already received the first dose of a Covid vaccine – more than 85 percent of the population aged 12 or older.

And more than 45 million have received their second jab.

The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that vaccines are the world’s best bet at beating the pandemic.

The WHO said: “But it’s not vaccines that will stop the pandemic, it’s vaccination.

“We must ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines, and ensure every country receives them and can roll them out to protect their people, starting with the most vulnerable.”

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