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Even with the Delta variant, the ability of COVID-19 vaccines to prevent hospitalization has not significantly diminished, CDC scientist says


Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

  • The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine against the infection appears to have waned, a CDC scientist said.

  • Dr Sara Oliver said vaccines are always very effective in preventing hospitalization.

  • “Vaccines remain effective in preventing hospitalizations and serious illness,” Oliver said.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

COVID-19 vaccines are still very effective against hospitalization despite the increase in the more transmissible Delta variant, a Center for Disease Control scientist said on Monday.

In a presentation to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Monday, Dr Sara Oliver said that since the onset of Delta, the vaccine’s effectiveness against hospitalization has ranged from 75 to 95 percent.

The vaccine’s ability to prevent infection has ranged from 39% to 84% since the introduction of the Delta variant.

“Vaccines remain effective in preventing hospitalizations and serious illness, but may be less effective in preventing infections or milder symptomatic illnesses,” the presentation said.

The slides indicated that the waning protection over time and the Delta variant could contribute to the decrease in vaccine effectiveness.

Oliver said it was not uncommon for some vaccines to require multiple doses, including hepatitis and HPV vaccines. However, she said more information was needed before the group could assess the need for booster shots.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, previously said the pandemic could be brought under control by next spring if the millions of unvaccinated people get vaccinated. The presentation said the top priority should be to vaccinate these Americans.

Experts have warned that the spread of the virus, especially the Delta variant, could lead to a more dangerous variant.

“It’s a very cunning virus,” Fauci said. “If we continue to linger without vaccinating people who should be vaccinated, this thing could persist, leading to the development of another variant, which could complicate matters.”

Those most at risk for serious illness should be given priority for booster shots, the presentation added.

Oliver also said it was important to ensure the global availability of vaccines. “Uncontrolled global spread that could lead to new variants threatens control of the pandemic everywhere,” said his presentation.

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