Covid shots against highly contagious delta variant needed n
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U.S., U.K. and Israel are among the most fully vaccinated countries in the world. All have seen surges in Covid cases and hospitalizations linked to the delta strain. Vaccines targeting the highly transmissible delta variant may now be needed, researchers say. Health officials in the U.S. have said they're pleading with the hesitant to get immunized.

Despite the losses, current vaccines continue to give a relatively high degree of protection, the researchers from institutions across the U.K. said. Fully immunized people were three times less likely to catch delta than non-immunized peers, and less likely to suffer bouts of symptomatic Covid-19 or to pass the virus on to others if they did get infected, according to the study.

The study, called React-1, looked at results of Covid testing from June 24 to July 12. The period roughly corresponds to a surge in infections across the U.K. as the delta variant came to fully displace the alpha strain that was first detected in the country’s south and caused last winter’s horrors. Breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people are becoming an increasingly important issue in countries with high vaccination rates. Such concerns still affect just a small portion of the world as only 13% of people are fully vaccinated globally, most of them in the developed world, the authors noted.

Infections during the period of the study centered more than ever on the country’s youth, with about half of the positive swabs coming from people aged 5 to 24. That age group only accounts for a quarter of England’s population, according to the report, which hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed. The age breakdown suggests that interventions targeting younger people could have a “disproportionate" impact on slowing waves of Covid, the authors wrote.

By vaccinating people between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, health officials could substantially reduce transmission potential in the autumn when levels of social mixing increase, the authors said. Our vaccination rollout is building a wall of defense that means we can carefully ease restrictions and get back to the things we love, but we need to be cautious as we learn to live with this virus, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement regarding the report.

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