Although it sounds confusing, federal health officials claim that the Covid-19 vaccines work well and provide more than 90% protection against serious disease and death. They keep people out of hospitals.

They also stated that studies have shown that people who are not vaccinated are more likely to contract the disease now. Therefore, they are making plans now to provide boosters if federal regulators approve.

Both can be true.

It is a combination of naturally declining immunity, a rapidly moving new variant and a population who has been slow to be vaccinated.

Moderna and BioNTech vaccines are particularly effective against coronavirus infections. They provide up to 90% protection against symptoms.

It is important to keep in mind that vaccines don’t stop the virus from getting worse.

Scott Hensley, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that some people believe that vaccinations create a force field around them.

Even vaccinated individuals can still inhale virus if it is present in the air. The only thing that immunity can do is to control what happens afterwards.

Antibodies matter

Antibodies are the first line of defense. These proteins can attach to viruses or other invaders to make them more difficult to attack cells.

A vaccine increases the levels of these antibodies and trains the body’s ability to make antibodies that are specifically targeted to fight a pathogen, such as coronavirus.

Antibodies can stop viral infection quickly.

The body must make antibodies to combat other invaders and this production begins to decrease over time.

Some of these new variants also have mutations that allow them to evade antibodies.

Hensley stated that some viruses may be capable of getting into cells and reproducing for a few rounds.

This may be what is happening in the US. Two studies published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that immunity declined over the summer. The vaccines were still 90% effective against serious disease and death. However, milder or less severe infections increased.

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Recent data shows that the protection against mild and moderate diseases has declined over time. This could be due to both waning immunity as well as the strength of the widely-used Delta variant,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Muthy explained Wednesday at a White House briefing.

A study on residents of nursing homes found that immunity to any type of infection dropped from 75% in March, to 53% in August.

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a third dose of vaccine can increase these antibody levels by tenfold. He said that higher levels of antibody might be necessary to protect against Delta.