The new CDC report on the strain’s breakthrough cases raises concern, but vaccinating the unvaccinated will go much further than vaccinating the vaccinated.

By Dr. Jalal Baig, Oncologist

This summer should have been different. Flush with the world’s best Covid-19 vaccines, America could have inoculated its way out of the pandemic. But as the highly virulent delta variant has rampaged through a half-vaccinated countryinfections have surgedmask guidance has been duly revised and, most disconcertingly, calls for vaccine boosters are gaining decibels as breakthrough infections (a Covid infection in a fully vaccinated person) rise.

Science rather than the avarice of pharmaceutical executives must be our propelling force on matters of vaccines and public health.

The issue of boosters will likely gain greater prominence after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that new data on the delta variant shows how the “war has changed” against the coronavirus. While the CDC’s description of a strain that is more contagious and likely more severe than its predecessors wasn’t completely unexpected, the stunning transmissibility of breakthrough infections that the delta variant is responsible for will prompt discussions on whether booster shots can stem them and once again restore the impenetrable immunity of vaccinated people.

Even before the CDC findings were announced, the case for an extra jab was already gaining steam after data from Israel, where delta is also the dominant strain, recently showed that its vaccinated population was increasingly vulnerable to breakthrough infections. The Health Ministry found that the Pfizer shot was only 39 percent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid infection from late June to mid-July, a nosedive from levels seen this winter and early spring. Though the study was small and covered a narrow window of time, the country announced Thursday it was going to start offering a booster to Israelis over 60 who were vaccinated more than five months ago.

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