Speed Reads

Uh oh

What the Delta variant could mean for the Pfizer vaccine

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 makes its way across the globe, a new report from Israeli website Ynet has some good news about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — and some bad. First, the good news: Data from the Israel Health Ministry find the vaccine holds up well against the variant when it comes to hospitalizations and serious illness, with an efficacy rate of 93 percent according to data from June 6 to July 3, when the Delta variant really began to take hold, Bloomberg reports. That's down from 98.2 percent compared to the variants that came before, but still very good. 

The bad news is the data appear to indicate a significant drop in efficacy when it comes to the Pfizer vaccine preventing infection overall. Between May 2 and June 5, the vaccine had a 94.3 percent efficacy rate at preventing infection, Bloomberg explains. That rate dropped to 64 percent in the month that followed. 

If the data are correct, it means that even if you're fully vaccinated, you could still catch and show symptoms of COVID-19. That's always been the case, but the Delta variant makes it more likely. But the immunization still significantly reduces your chances of landing in the hospital.

The Delta variant is dominant in many parts of the United States, and some states' health-care systems are already under pressure, Financial Times reports. The Pfizer vaccine is one of three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S.