Evidence suggests COVID vaccines are protective against Delta strain

Morgan Liotta

8/06/2021 4:04:21 PM

Of 12,383 people admitted to UK hospitals with the recently identified variant of concern, only three had been fully vaccinated with two doses.

Sign for a vaccination centre.
Some Australian experts have argued the emergence of increasingly contagious variants of concern means vaccinating children may be the only route to herd immunity. (Image: AAP)

New figures announced by British Health Secretary Matt Hancock appear to confirm the effectiveness of COVID vaccines against the new Delta variant of concern that has ravaged India and recently been found in Melbourne.
The three fully vaccinated people who have been hospitalised represent 0.02% of Delta cases in the UK and 2.38% of those admitted for treatment.
Of the 126 people admitted to hospital overall, 83 had not been vaccinated, while 28 had received only one shot.
Although UK data suggests the Delta variant – which has quickly become the dominant strain in the country – presents a greater risk of hospitalisation within 14 days compared to the Alpha variant, these figures indicate the country’s vaccine rollout ‘is working’, Mr Hancock said in London.
‘Despite the rise in cases, hospitalisations have been broadly flat … [and] the majority of people in hospital with COVID appear to be those who haven’t had the vaccine at all,’ he said.
‘We should all be reassured by this because it shows those vaccinated groups who previously made up the vast majority of hospitalisations are now in the minority.’
The news comes as Victorian health authorities revealed they have discovered a genomic link between the West Melbourne Delta cluster and a returned travelled who entered hotel quarantine in Melbourne on 8 May, placing the state in a better position to exit lockdown.
A number of children are part of the newly identified group and it is believed – although not confirmed – that Delta is more transmissible among this cohort than previous strains.
Previous research has also identified that expanding vaccination criteria to include children will potentially strengthen efforts to achieve herd immunity, and UK officials are already looking to expand its vaccine rollout to include children after the medicines regulator approved the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12–15.
The vaccine was approved for the same age group in the US last month based on earlier trials showing it is ‘well-tolerated’, while Singapore has also joined in prioritising younger age groups.
Locally, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is yet to grant approval for use of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines for children aged under 16.
But Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly recently announced the TGA had received a proposal from Pfizer on the safety and efficacy of their vaccine for children aged 12–15, in light of Melbourne’s current outbreak including children, and reoccurring school closures.
‘They are examining that information; other regulators [around the world] similar to the TGA have accepted the safety, efficacy and quality proposal,’ Professor Kelly said.
‘It will be a matter for the TGA but I suspect that they would go along the same line, but the timing of that, I’m unclear.’
Other health experts have backed the ‘promising idea’ of expanding the age criteria to include under 16s. Kirby Institute infectious diseases expert Professor Raina MacIntyre recently told newsGP that Australia ‘needs to start formulating a vaccine strategy for children’.
Writing for MJA’s InSight+ with two other experts on a vaccine endgame, Professor MacIntyre said that with more contagious variants of concern, vaccinating children may be the ‘only route to herd immunity’, potentially offering better protection for people who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised.

According to the authors, children aged 10 years and older transmit the virus as much as adults, with some studies showing they can transmit more than adults.
‘The Delta variant has been estimated to be 50% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, and has some vaccine escape associated with it, especially for the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca,’ they wrote.
‘The Kappa variant is likely to be even more vaccine-resistant due to the presence of the 484Q mutation. This is a concern, as it means outbreaks will be harder to contain, and herd immunity will be harder to attain – especially using vaccines of lower efficacy and without vaccinating children aged 12 years and over.’
Given that Australia differs from many other countries because it has ‘very little’ immunity from infection in the population, the authors are urging further evidence from clinical trials and other country’s vaccine rollouts to be followed.
‘As well as evidence from clinical trials, Australia can consider the real examples from other countries as we attempt to remedy a slow start to vaccination,’ they wrote.
‘The stakes have been raised with more transmissible variants, which means vaccination of children must be part of our plan and our goal should be far higher than the minimal one preventing death.
‘For economic recovery, our best bet is herd immunity, and we will never know if we can achieve it unless we try.’
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Dr Said Khushal Mirranay   9/06/2021 7:50:38 AM

The number of hours GP put in not financially rewarding & GP work is stress then any medical specialist because of people expectations
We work as counseller, psychologist & social worker. The amount of paper work in general practice is a pressure & extra work

Dr Gobind Singh Duggal   10/06/2021 4:27:28 PM

As a GP I have been requested Pfizer vaccine for people over 60, and I am not able to help them,there is incresing hesitency for AZ vaccine, unless we have vaccination programme that is not regulated by age of patient, we can have lot more population vacinated