Health and Healthcare Systems

Yes, vaccines do protect against the Delta variant. A WHO scientist explains

A health worker prepares a vaccination against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a mobile vaccination centre, as Israel continues to fight against the spread of the Delta variant, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 6, 2021. REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RC23FO9EVUCX

In countries around the world coronavirus infection levels are once again surging after the emergence of a new strain of the virus. Image: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Victoria Masterson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • Delta is a more transmissible variant of COVID-19 and is resistant to antibodies in our blood.
  • Vaccination protects against severe disease, hospitalization and death from the Delta variant.
  • Get vaccinated as soon as it’s your turn, says Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist.

In countries around the world coronavirus infection levels are once again surging after the emergence of a new strain of the virus.

The Delta COVID-19 variant was first identified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May. It has become the dominant infection type in countries including the UK and India due to its twin traits of being more transmissible than previous variants and its ability to resist our antibodies.

All viruses evolve over time and so the emergence of new variants was inevitable - but how protected are we by vaccines? And what steps should we take to protect ourselves?

In a new video from the WHO, chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan answers these questions, and explains everything we know about the new variant and vaccines.


How well does vaccination protect us from the Delta variant?

The good news is that all of the vaccines listed for emergency use by WHO do protect against developing severe disease, hospitalization and death due to the Delta variant, Dr Swaminathan says.

“People who've been vaccinated are much less likely to end up in hospital,” she adds.

All the approved vaccines are more than 90% effective in preventing severe disease.

Full vaccination offers the best protection

While there is data emerging about the degree to which different vaccines protect against infection, they are all highly effective at protecting against severe disease. Evidence from countries where the Delta variant predominates shows that the full course of vaccination - two doses in most cases - is required to offer the best protection.

Where the delta variant is gaining ground.
The Delta variant is accountable for 96.1% of COVID-19 cases in the U.K. Image: Statista

Dr Swaminathan underlines the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as your turn comes. As well as protecting yourself from getting severely ill from the Delta variant, or previous strains, it also helps prevent you passing it on to others. To get control of COVID and its variants globally, these chains of transmission must be broken.

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Health and Healthcare SystemsGlobal Risks
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