The Delta variant is changing calculations of governments around the world, raising doubts about how quickly they can leave the coronavirus pandemic behind, widening the gulf between highly vaccinated places and the rest, and infiltrating countries that had previously kept the virus at bay.
The variant’s ability to spread more easily than previous dominant versions of the virus has driven rapidly rising Covid-19 caseloads even in highly vaccinated countries such as the U.K. and Israel. There, the vaccines have suppressed serious illness and deaths. But, in many parts of the rest of the world, the pandemic that has already sickened at least 200 million people and killed more than four million is intensifying.
The good news that vaccines are highly effective against Delta at preventing severe illness and death in those fully inoculated is a vindication of governments’ bold bets on the shots as the surest way back to normalcy.
Immunity against the coronavirus is waning in people who were fully vaccinated with the shot made by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. in January because of the rapidly spreading Delta variant, said BioNTech’s chief executive, Ugur Sahin.
He said, however, most of them will remain protected against severe disease and might not yet need a third dose.