By Chioma Obinna
A new scientific study on Wednesday rekindled hope that the AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance COVID-19 vaccine are effective against Delta and Kappa variants of the COVID-19 causing virus, which were first identified in India, reinforcing a continued push to deliver the shots.
The study by Oxford University researchers, published in the journal Cell, investigated the ability of antibodies in the blood from people, who were vaccinated with the two-shot regimens, to neutralise the highly contagious Delta and Kappa variants.
The paper also found no evidence of widespread escape suggesting that the current generation of vaccines will provide protection against the B.1.617 lineage.
However, the concentration of neutralising antibodies in the blood was somewhat reduced, which may lead to some breakthrough infections, they cautioned.
It could be recalled that last week, an analysis by the Public Health England (PHE) showed that vaccines made by Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca offer high protection of more than 90 percent against hospitalisation from the Delta variant.
In a separate statement, AstraZeneca Executive Mene Pangalos said: “We are encouraged to see the non-clinical results published from Oxford and these data, alongside the recent early real-world analysis from Public Health England, provide us with a positive indication that our vaccine can have significant impact against the Delta variant.”
Also, the World Health Organisation’s chief scientist had on Friday said the Delta variant was becoming the globally dominant version of the disease.
The Oxford researchers also analysed reinfection patterns in people who had previously had COVID-19.
The risk of reinfection with the Delta variant appeared particularly high in individuals previously infected by the Beta and Gamma lineages that emerged in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
By contrast, previous infection with the Alpha, or B117, variant first detected in Britain, conferred “reasonable” cross-protection against all variants of concern, lending itself as a template that next-generation vaccines could be molded on.
“B117 might be a candidate for new variant vaccines to provide the broadest protection,” the researchers said. Globally, a surge in the Delta variant cases is raising alarm bells.
The WHO has characterised a “two track” pandemic, made up of higher-income countries driving down cases as vaccination efforts gain tractions, contrasted with others struggling with new or ongoing surges, due to factors, including scarce vaccine, more transmissible variants, and social mixing.