There remains to be plenty of debate surrounding this pandemic… and the COVID-19 vaccines, in particular.
But this isn’t going to be a conversation about how important it is to get vaccinated. (I’ve already shared my thoughts on that more than once.) Today, I’m simply going to present facts—because you just can’t make an educated decision without them.
These scientific facts are even more critical now with the Delta variant on the scene. In fact, if you’re unvaccinated and catch this new strain of COVID, there’s a 300 percent higher chance of hospitalization, and a 50 percent higher risk of death. (Let that sink in for a moment.)
Needless to say, the stakes are high. So without further ado, let’s talk more about the effectiveness of the COVID vaccines. And then, I’ll address some lingering concerns…
Scientifically proven prevention
This gold-standard study recently appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and it featured more than 50,000 COVID-positive patients against an equal number of controls.
The patient population came from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and had a high rate of comorbidities like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. (In other words, the exact group of people who could get seriously ill and die from COVID-19, as I’ve reported here before.)
That’s also what makes the results so promising. Researchers analyzed the effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose mRNA vaccines. And they found that, one week or longer after the second dose, the vaccines’ overall effectiveness came in at 97.1 percent (96.2 percent for the Pfizer vaccine, and 98.2 percent for Moderna).
Plus, this success rate hovered above 95 percent even after accounting for age, sex, race, or comorbidities. (And being a country that’s riddled with chronic disease, this is a critical factor.)
Why is this so important?
Well, before this study, we only had clinical trials to understand the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines—without truly knowing how that would pan out in a larger population. But now, with hundreds of millions of people getting the vaccines across the globe, we actually have real world data to draw from.
And a 95 percent effective rate against infection prevention—not just in a controlled setting, but with large-scale use—is definitely something worth celebrating.
But what about the Delta variant?
A new study shows these vaccines are still 66 percent effective against infection with the Delta variant. And while this level of protection isn’t as strong… it’s nothing to scoff at. Especially when you consider that the vaccines continue offering serious protection against hospitalization and death, even against this more dangerous version of the virus.
Addressing lingering concerns about vaccination
Of course, I also understand the most lingering hesitation around getting any of the available vaccines probably goes well beyond whether or not they work. So, allow me to address this briefly once again…
For those concerned with mRNA technology, you have to remember that this technology has been around for over a decade. It’s use in humans is slightly newer, but as I’ve mentioned here before, Pfizer and Moderna are testing this technology for all sorts of things—including cancer. (Needless to say, Wall Street is thoroughly enjoying this success.)
As you may have also heard, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. So anyone concerned about the Emergency Use Authorization that made these shots available at the beginning of the year can at least set that fear aside.
Now, what about booster shots? Well, I’m not exactly excited about getting one—and I’m sure you aren’t either. But I do agree that they are important for keeping antibodies high and on the ready.
I actually test my patients’ antibodies to the spike protein, unique to COVID. Which is something you can ask your healthcare provider to do, too. (You can even test your T-cell immunity, if you wanted to… as T-cells stimulate the production of antibodies). And I’ve found that certain populations—most notably, my older patients and my patients with cancer—do not hold onto their antibodies for as long as those without those conditions. (The antibodies were still there, they were just less robust.) This presents a science-supported reason to get in line for a booster as soon as it’s available.
In the end, I can’t make the decision for you about whether or not to vaccinate. But I will continue to arm you with the information you need to choose wisely. The rest, as always, is up to you.
P.S. In the meantime, I urge you to keep your immune health top of mind—especially now, with the Delta variant circulating. For my top immunity tips, check out my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity.
“’Gold Standard’ Study Confirms COVID mRNA Vaccines Prevent Infection.” Medscape Medical News, 07/21/2021.
“CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines 66% Effective Against Delta Variant.” Medscape Medical News, 08/25/2021.