Updated: Jul 21
The most recent news regarding COVID-19 revolves around mutated variations of the virus, given the names Delta and Lambda. The World Health Organization tracks newly emerging variants and classifies them as a variant of concern (VOC) or variant of interest (VOI) based on the threat they pose to public health.
Now classified as a VOC, the Delta variant was first discovered in India during December of 2020 and has quickly become the predominant stain of COVID in the US. The mutations which the Delta variant contains makes it 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, posing a severe threat for populations of unvaccinated people.
The ability of the Pfizer vaccine to prevent sickness against Delta has been closely monitored
in Israel due to their large percentage of vaccinated adults. Israel’s heath ministry data suggests that Pfizer’s vaccine is 64% effective at preventing illness from Delta, versus 93% effective against the Alpha variant.
In the US, Pfizer’s vaccine is shown to be 33% effective in preventing illness after one dose, and 79%-92% effective after two doses against the Delta variant. Despite the increased potential to become ill from Delta, Pfizer’s vaccine is still over 90% effective at preventing symptoms that may require hospitalization.
The Lambda variant is currently classified as a VOI, but may be elevated to a VOC for its increasing prevalence in South America. It is currently responsible for 82% of new cases in Peru in recent months, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Like the Delta variant, the mutation Lambda acquired increases its ability to transmit from one host to another. A recent study suggests that it may be able to evade the bodies immune defenses acquired from the current crop of COVID-19 vaccines.
As new variants of COVID-19 emerge, it becomes increasingly important to receive both doses of the two dose vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna). Getting vaccinated is a simple measure to ensure that you and your loved ones can remain healthy as the pandemic proceeds in its unpredictable and ever changing manner.