Does the Moderna vaccine protect against the delta variant of COVID?

Soldier's hands holding doses of Moderna covid vaccine-does that version work against the delta variant
Photo via Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th/Flickr (Public Domain)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: Aug. 5, 2021

The spread of a dangerous and highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 has people concerned that existing vaccines may not offer protection. The delta variant, which first emerged out of India, has been spreading rapidly through the population of several countries, and it comes with a myriad of new symptoms, often severe. That’s prompting questions about whether the Moderna vaccine protects against the delta variant.

A U.K. study found that a single shot of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine offers around 33% protection against the delta variant. Both doses of the Pfizer version, meanwhile, offer approximately 88% protection, though a recent Israeli study actually showed about 64% protection. The U.K. study has yet to be peer-reviewed but has been cited by the Biden administration as evidence that vaccines are a necessary and useful tool to prevent infection. 

On June 29, Moderna said its vaccine also was effective against the delta variant. “As we seek to defeat the pandemic, it is imperative that we are proactive as the virus evolves,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “These new data are encouraging and reinforce our belief that the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine should remain protective against newly detected variants.”

In early August, Moderna said its vaccine remained 93% effective against COVID six months after the second shot was given.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged unvaccinated Americans to get their shots, and he stressed the importance of getting both doses. “If you’ve gotten your first dose, make sure to get that second dose,” he said. “For those who have not been vaccinated, please get vaccinated.”

As of mid-June 2021, the delta variant accounts for approximately 6% of new COVID cases in the United States. By early July, it was more like 52%, and by July 20, the delta variant was responsible for 83% of new cases in the U.S. It was also thought to be behind a deadly surge in India, which is currently experiencing thousands of COVID-related deaths every day.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer solid protection against the delta variant, but experts are concerned that unvaccinated Americans may contribute to the strain’s continued spread. The AstraZeneca vaccine also offers protection against the variant, but not as thoroughly as Pfizer or Moderna. The AstraZeneca vaccine offers around 60% protection for people who’ve received both doses.

All this information has bolstered experts, who’ve been stressing the importance of vaccines for months.

There are some individuals who can’t get a vaccine for a number of reasons, including health concerns and access, so those who can get the vaccine, should. Not only will it protect you from COVID-19 and its many variants, but it will also help offer protection to those who cannot get a vaccine themselves.

Read more on the coronavirus variants:

Sources: Web MD, Stat News, NJ

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