19th August, 2021
A study by Oxford University has found that protection from either of the two most commonly used COVID-19 vaccines against the now prevalent Delta variant of the coronavirus weakens within three months.
It also found that those who get infected after receiving two shots of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the AstraZeneca vaccine may be of greater risk to others than under previous variants of the coronavirus.
The study found that 90 days after a second shot of the Pfizer, the efficacy drops to 75 percent from 85 percent.
The efficacy of the Astrazeneca vaccine also slipped to 61% from 68%.
The finding was based on more than three million nose and throat swabs taken across Britain.
The decline in efficacy was more pronounced among those aged 35 years and older than those below that age.
“Both of these vaccines, at two doses, are still doing really well against Delta… When you start very, very high, you got a long way to go,” said Sarah Walker, an Oxford professor of medical statistics and chief investigator for the survey.
Walker was not involved in work on AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which was initially developed by immunology experts at Oxford.
The researchers would not project how much more the protection would drop over time, but suggested that the efficacy of the two vaccines studied would converge within 4-5 months after the second shot.
Highlighting the increased risk of contagion from the Delta variant, the study also showed that those who do get infected despite being fully vaccinated tend to have a viral load similar to the unvaccinated with an infection.
This was a clear deterioration from when the Alpha variant was still dominant in Britain.
The Oxford findings are in line with an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and come as the U.S. government outlines plans to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots widely available next month amid a rise in Delta variant infections.
It cited data indicating diminishing protection from the vaccines over time.