"I've been vaccinated. Do I need to worry about variants?"
The answer depends on a few things — including your personal risk tolerance.
But first off, know that your vaccine is quite valuable. The COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be protective against the new virus variants, according to the World Health Organization.
- Q&A: Talking Breakthrough Infections, Symptoms and Travel Around the Delta Variant With UCSF's Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo
Exactly how much the various vaccines protect against the delta variant — the newest form of the virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dubbed a "variant of concern" — is still somewhat of a guessing game. But if you're fully vaccinated (two weeks after your second dose) the odds are highly favorable that you won't get a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, and even better that if you are one of the unfortunate few, you won't get a severe case.
"At least for those vaccines approved in Europe and North America, in the case of the variants, these seem to be effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death," says Dr. Jerome Kim, director general of the International Vaccine Institute.
The alpha variant, first identified in the U.K., is around 50% more transmissible than the original form of the virus. The Pfizer vaccine was found to be 90% effective against the most severe forms of infection (i.e., those resulting in hospitalization or death) caused by this variant. That study also showed high protection against the beta variant, first spotted in South Africa.