FDA chief says COVID-19 vaccines offer protection vs Delta variant
A health worker prepares a vial of Chinese Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19 coronavirus disease inside a movie theater turned into a vaccination center in Taguig City suburban Manila on June 14, 2021.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

FDA chief says COVID-19 vaccines offer protection vs Delta variant

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - June 22, 2021 - 12:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s Food and Drug Administration assured Filipinos that coronavirus vaccines retain important effectiveness against the more contagious Delta variant as it called on the public to get inoculated. 

The Delta (B.1617.2) variant, which was first identified in India, is seen to become the globally dominant variant of COVID-19. Health authorities in the Philippines have so far reported 17 cases of this variant.

Studies suggest it spreads more quickly and seems to have stronger resistance to vaccines than other forms of COVID-19.

But FDA Director General Eric Domingo stressed vaccines still work against the Delta variant despite slightly lower efficacy rates.

“We should all get vaccinated with the vaccines that are available now because this will still protect us and will help us stop the spread even if it (Delta variant) comes in,” he said.

Citing the data published by Public Health England (PHE) in May, Domingo said the jab made by Pfizer-BioNTech was 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant, compared to 93% effectiveness against the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, or the one first identified in the United Kingdom.

“So there’s decreasing efficacy as we get more mutations, but its effectiveness does not go away. It’s still a useful vaccine,” Domingo said in a mix of English and Filipino during a televised meeting Monday.

He added the AstraZeneca shot showed efficacy of 60% against cases caused by the Delta variant, while it was 66% effective for cases caused by the Alpha variant.

A new analysis by PHE published as a pre-print showed that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 96% effective against hospitalization to the Delta variant. Meanwhile, two doses of the AstraZeneca jab prevent 92% of hospitalization.

Other pharmaceutical firms such as Moderna, Sinovac BioNTech, Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson are still analyzing the impacts of the variant on their COVID-19 vaccines.

“But initial reports indicate that they are also useful, but of course we expect that it will be a litte lower than the original efficacy against the original variant,” Domingo said.

“So it means, all these vaccines do not completely lose their efficacy even with the Delta variant,” the FDA chief added. — with report from Agence France-Presse

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