What We're Reading: Masking When Fully Vaccinated; Delta COVID-19 Variant; Extra Vaccine Dose in Transplant Recipients

The debate continues whether or not to go maskless when fully vaccinated; the Delta COVID-19 variant is associated with a 2-fold greater risk of hospitalization; an extra vaccine dose may boost COVID-19 protection in organ transplant recipients.

Experts Debate Whether to Go Maskless When Fully Vaccinated

In an article by Kaiser Health News, the issue of whether or not to go maskless when fully vaccinated was addressed. In addition to the unknowns of how long protection from a COVID-19 vaccine would last, settings such as grocery stores, in which exposure to mixed crowds is heightened, may warrant wearing a mask to promote protection, particularly for customers or workers who may be immunocompromised or have another health condition that would inhibit their ability to be vaccinated. Moreover, being in the presence of children was noted as another reason to wear a mask, as most adolescents aged 12 to 16 have yet to be vaccinated, with those under 12 years not yet eligible.

Delta COVID-19 Variant Associated With Doubled Hospitalization Risk

According to a Scottish Study published in The Lancet examining the Delta COVID-19 variant, first identified in India, data indicate that this novel variant doubles the risk of hospitalization compared with the previously dominant Alpha variant, first identified in Britain. Reported by Reuters, being fully vaccinated was shown to still provide strong protection against the Delta variant, although early evidence suggests that this protection might be lower than that against the Alpha variant. Notably, former FDA Commisioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said that the Delta variant may become the dominant strain in the United States, as it currently accounts for 10% of US coronavirus infections and is doubling every 2 weeks.

Extra COVID-19 Dose May Boost Protection for Organ Transplant Recipients

As reported by The Associated Press, administering an extra dose of a COVID-19 vaccine may boost protection in organ transplant recipients with potentially weakened immune systems. In the study by researchers from John Hopkins University, data published in Annals of Internal Medicine show that of the 24 patients examined who appeared to have no protection after the routine 2-shot vaccinations, 8 had developed protective antibodies after the extra shot. Researchers noted hopes to test the efficacy of a third vaccination dose in a larger patient cohort of 200 transplant recipients this summer.