The Delta variant doubles the chance of hospitalization—however the vaccines nonetheless work

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The good news? Vaccines still sharply reduce the risk of being admitted to hospital with the Delta variant. The Scottish study found that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provided 79% protection, two weeks on from the second dose, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offered 60% protection. That lower rate may be due to the fact that it takes longer for immunity to develop with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, researchers said. 

However, research released shortly after by Public Health England was even more promising. It found that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provides 96% protection from hospitalization after two doses, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca is 92% effective at preventing hospitalization after both shots. The conclusion? It’s yet more evidence of the importance of making sure as many people as possible get vaccinated, and that they get both shots.

The big fear: One concern, right from the start of vaccination programs, has always been that the virus will adapt and evolve so that current vaccines become far less effective, a scenario known as “vaccine escape.” As it stands, that doesn’t seem to have happened. But it’s a worrying picture nonetheless, while we wait for new vaccines to be made to tackle the variants. The Delta variant is 64% more transmissible than the Alpha variant indoors, according to Public Health England. 

That data, combined with the hospital admissions data, is the reason why the UK has delayed plans to lift most remaining covid-19 restrictions by a month. The hope is that those extra few weeks will provide enough time to nudge the number of fully vaccinated adults up. Although more than 70% of the UK adult population has had one dose, just over half have had both.