If You Got Moderna, This Is How Your Antibodies Respond to the Delta Variant
While the vaccine is still effective, the antibody response is notably weakened.
As the Delta variant of COVID continues to spread rapidly across the globe, people are wondering what kind of protection their vaccine grants them. This new strain of the virus comes with new symptoms and spreads more readily than previous variants, making some concerned individuals worry they might be in danger despite their vaccination status. Now, new research is painting a clearer picture. When Moderna was recently put to the test against the Delta variant, it showed some promising results—but the antibody response to the variant was notably lower than it was against the original virus.
Recently, Scott Gottlieb, MD, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, told CBS News' Face the Nation that the Delta variant is "40 to 60 percent more effective, more contagious" than the Alpha variant, which resulted in a spike in cases across the country in early 2021. According to Gottlieb, the Delta variant is on the path to becoming the dominant strain of COVID in the U.S. With that in mind, vaccine manufacturers are scrambling to make sure their shots provide ample protection to recipients.
On June 29, Moderna released a statement announcing that its COVID vaccine showed promising results against the Delta variant. However, the company noted a decrease in the antibody response as compared to the antibody response to the original strain of the virus. When the vaccine was combating the Delta variant, it showed a 2.1-fold reduction in antibody response.
According to Moderna, the COVID vaccine incited an antibody response against all variants the company tested—although none of the responses were as strong as they had been against the original virus. Surprisingly, the vaccine was more effective at producing antibodies against the Delta variant than the Beta variant first identified in South Africa. When up against the Beta variant, the vaccine saw a six-to-eight-fold reduction in antibodies.
While the vaccine is not as powerful against these variants as it was against the earlier dominant strain of COVID, Moderna's CEO is confident that the protection it does provide is substantial. "These new data are encouraging and reinforce our belief that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should remain protective against newly detected variants," Stéphane Bancel said in the statement.
Pfizer has also researched how its vaccine responds to the Delta variant. Reuters reported that studies showed that, similar to Moderna, the Pfizer vaccine was effective at protecting against the Delta variant, but the antibody response was not as robust as it was in response to the original virus. A May 22 study out of Public Health England concluded that the Pfizer vaccine is more than 90 percent effective at preventing hospitalization from the Delta variant.
Johnson & Johnson has yet to perform a study on how its vaccine works against the Delta variant. However, experts have suggested those who received Johnson & Johnson consider getting a booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna to help bolster protection as the new strain continues to circulate.