Take it from the head of the Philippines' vaccine expert panel -- all brands protect you against hospitalization or death from COVID-19 that is due to the hypercontagious delta variant, so get jabbed as soon as you can.
As expected when viruses mutate or evolve, the efficacy of vaccines get reduced, but not to the point that those who got jabbed will get a severe case of the disease, said Dr. Nina Gloriani, who oversees clinical trials on COVID-19 vaccines.
"We have to be very, very careful, double precautions for everything," Gloriani told the third edition of the HIV and COVID-19 webinar series. This means masking up (double for those with diseases that compromise immunity such as hypertension or those who are living with HIV).
Gloriani said the public should avoid large gatherings, even eating out or chatting in huddles. "Pag napakarami nyong nagsama-sama, kumakain together nagkukuwentuhan, diyan nagkakapasahan ng virus."
Everyone should get the two required doses for full vaccination, Gloriani said. A third or booster shot is being studied for those with co-morbidities, she said.
Why is Delta more contagious?
Variants emerge when viruses evolve faster than the pace of vaccinations. When viruses evolve, they behave differently, compared to when they first emerged, Gloriani said.
Some of those who got infected were found to have viral loads that are 1,000 times higher, Gloriani said. The higher an infected person's viral load, the more likely they will likely pass on the disease.
Studies have also shown that the Delta variant attaches itself faster and attacks cells faster, she said.
"Nababawasan man ang protection, but the vaccines should be able to protect against the severe form of COVID, hospitalization or death," she said.
What are the symptoms of the Delta variant?
According to the Yale School of Public Health, those with COVID from the Delta variant suffer from headaches, sore throat, runny nose and fever. Get tested if you have any of these.
How do vaccines stack up against Delta and other variants?
Here's how vaccines available in the Philippines fare against variants, according to Gloriani, citing various studies:
- Pfizer -- effective against Alpha, Beta and Delta
- AstraZeneca -- effective against Alpha and Delta
- Sinovac (Coronavac) -- effective against Alpha, decreased neutralizing antibodies for Beta and Delta
- Sputnik V -- likely to retain strong efficacy against variants
- Moderna -- effective against Alpha, Beta and Delta
- Janssen/J&J -- effective against Beta and Delta
- Sinopharm -- effective against Beta
Vaccines are just one line of defense, think Swiss cheese
No vaccine offers 100% protection against any disease, what it offers is protection against severe illness and death, experts said.
In the case of COVID-19, vaccines are the first line of defense where there are many layers like Swiss cheese. There may be holes in each slice but stacked on top of the other, said Angelo Ramos, executive director of Sustained Health Initiatives or SHIP that advocates care for people living with HIV.
This means vaccinated people should still wear masks and practice hand hygeine and social distancing, he said.