SA’s Covid-19 vaccines work better against Delta than Beta variant – experts

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Jul 2, 2021

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South Africa’s Covid-19 epidemic is currently driven by the more-transmissible Delta variant and experts are trying to understand how this variant will react to the vaccines the country has available.

During a media briefing on Friday, scientists revealed data showing that vaccines in use in South Africa will work better against the Delta variant than the Beta variant.

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the Delta variant was quickly becoming the dominant variant in the country, replacing both the Alpha variant experienced in the first wave and Beta variant experienced in the second wave.

Professor Penny Moore from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said several studies showed promising antibody responses to the Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine.

“Existing laboratory data suggest that vaccines in use in South Africa will work better against the Delta variant than the Beta variant.

“In a large measure, our epidemic now in South Africa is driven by the Delta variant and it’s really crucial that we understand how this variant reacts to the vaccines that we have.” she said.

Trials suggest that the more antibodies a person has, the better the vaccine has worked and the more protection it provides.

“The levels matter.

“The better the antibody response is, the better the protection.

“It is not just the J&J vaccine that has shown positive results, but also AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine,” said Moore.

Chief executive at the SA Medical Research Council, Professor Glenda Gray said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown to work against the Delta variant and that health-care workers will not need a booster shot yet, because the immune response generated by the vaccine has shown durability.

“The J&J vaccine works better against the Delta variant.

“Some studies have shown that it gets better over time with both the Delta and Beta variant.

“The single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is comparable to the two doses.

“The single shot works just as well over the two doses.

“Right up to eight months we can say that we have durable responses measured with people we have followed over time,” she said.

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