Delta variant a relatively ‘wimpy’ virus when vaccine in play

“If we had a variant that was more resistant like beta, but spread as easily as delta, we’d be in more trouble”

Researchers in the U.S. have found Pfizer vaccine to be particularly effective in neutralizing the delta and alpha COVID variants. They say all but one of the 13 antibodies developed in someone who has received the Pfizer vaccine have been successful in stopping the variants.

A co-author of the study suggests that in the face of vaccination, Delta is “relatively a wimpy virus”.

Ali Ellebedy, a professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, added, “If we had a variant that was more resistant like beta, but spread as easily as delta, we’d be in more trouble.”

While beta and gamma eluded some antibodies, eight of the 13 antibodies still found and stopped both variants.

The delta variant is more than twice as contagious as the original strain of COVID, which is why it quickly became the dominant version in many countries. But, Jacco Boon, Ellebody’s co-author, and colleague noted there is a difference between the ability of a virus to spread easily and its ability to sneak by antibodies. “The fact that delta has outcompeted other variants does not mean that it’s more resistant to our antibodies compared to other variants.”

That’s why people who have been vaccinated have shown stronger protection against the delta variant despite its rapid spread among the unvaccinated.