Pfizer Less Effective Against Preventing Delta Variant Infection, Protects Against Severe Illness

Israelis receiving a Covid-19 vaccine at a Maccabi vaccination center in Givatayim, outside Tel Aviv. (Miriam ALster/Flash90/File)

New information from Israel’s current wave of coronavirus infections from the Delta variant suggests that the Pfizer vaccine is less effective at preventing infection, but remains a potent protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death.

The vaccine offers 64% protection against infection, down from 94% against less-infectious strains, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is 94% effective at preventing severe illness, down from 97%, according to Israel’s Health Ministry.

Israel is currently battling a wave of delta variant infections, which have brought cases up significantly but hospitalizations and deaths remain dramatically lower than they had been prior to Israel’s rapid vaccination push. Though June’s 7-day-average number of cases around 10, it soared to 300 by July 6.

Currently, only 33 people infected with the Delta variant developed serious illness, and most are elderly people with preexisting conditions.

The government has imposed a new mask mandate and expanded vaccine eligibility to children ages 12 and above to fight the swelling infections. More than 80% of Israeli adults are vaccinated against the virus.

In the UK, similar findings have been reported. Though cases are rising, hospitalizations and deaths remain lower than they had been during previous outbreaks. The NHS estimated that Pfizer and AstraZeneca are 79% effective against a symptomatic Delta infection, as opposed to 89% reduction in possible infection against the previous variants.


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