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An EMT administering a dose of coronavirus vaccine to a student in Winnetka, Calif., on July 6. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

One dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine "barely" protects against the Delta variant of the virus, because of mutations the variant has developed, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Thursday.

Why it matters: The study found that two doses of those vaccines generated a neutralizing response to the variant in 95% of people, highlighting the importance of full vaccination against COVID-19.

  • The findings may also offer an explanation for why the Delta variant is rapidly spreading in multiple countries around the world — including the U.S., where it is now the most dominant version of the virus.

How it works: The team of French researchers tested how efficiently antibodies produced through natural infections or vaccines neutralized variants of the coronavirus, including Delta, which was first identified in India.

  • They discovered that the Delta variant has developed mutations to cell entry mechanisms that allow it to evade certain antibodies.
  • While one dose of Pfizer's or AstraZeneca's vaccines was less effective at neutralizing the variant compared to two, it still performed better than the antibodies produced through natural infection, suggesting that people who contracted the virus may still need vaccine to help defend against variants.

Flashback: A study in The Lancet published in June found that the Delta variant is primarily a threat to people who have not been vaccinated.

  • Unvaccinated people were twice as likely to be hospitalized if they were infected by the Delta variant compared to infections from the Alpha variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom.

What they're saying: "In parts of the Midwest and upper mountain states, [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's] early sequence data suggests the Delta variant accounts for approximately 80% of cases," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky during a briefing on Thursday.

  • "To be clear, there will likely continue to be an increase in cases among unvaccinated Americans, and in communities with low vaccination rates, particularly given the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant," Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said.

Go deeper: Delta variant threatens masking guidance

Go deeper

Oct 15, 2021 - Health

State COVID lotteries did not increase vaccination rates, study finds

California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a drawing for the state's Vax for the Win program in June. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

None of the 19 states that implemented statewide COVID-19 vaccine lotteries this summer saw an increase in vaccination rates as a result of the incentive programs, according to a study published Friday in Jama Health Forum.

Why it matters: The study is the first to examine the effectiveness of 19 state-run lotteries, and offers insight into how governments can better craft incentive-based policies, said Andrew Friedson, one of the study's authors and an associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Minnesota National Guard to assist with hospital staffing shortages

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on April 19. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced Friday that he'll put the Minnesota National Guard on alert to help ease staffing shortages at hospitals and care facilities due to the rise in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated residents in the state.

Driving the news: Over 400 Minnesota patients are currently waiting for beds to open up at other care centers as hospitals across the state have reported that they're at or close to reaching capacity, AP reports.