The dangerous Delta variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading through the U.S. and may become the dominant strain within weeks.
According to a report by N.P.R., “At a White House briefing on COVID-19 on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said 20.6% of new cases in the U.S. are due to the Delta variant. And other scientists tracking the variant say it is on track to become the dominant virus variant in the U.S.
‘The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,’ Fauci said. He noted that the proportion of infections being caused by the variant is doubling every two weeks.
The variant, first identified in India, is the most contagious yet and, among those not yet vaccinated, may trigger serious illness in more people than other variants do, say scientists tracking the spread of infection.
The Delta variant apparently already accounts for at least 14% of all new infections, according to the research analysis posted online Monday of more than 242,000 infections nationwide over the last six months.
‘It definitely is of concern,’ says William Lee, the vice president of science at Helix, which is under contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help track the variants.
‘Just the fact that it’s so transmissible means that it’s dangerous,’ Lee says, ‘and so I think you’ll see outbreaks of Delta around the country and more people will get sick from it…’
But the Delta variant is two to three times more contagious than Gamma, indicating it would quickly become the dominant strain, Lee says…
All the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. appear, in general, to provide powerful protection against all the variants, including Delta. But the rapid spread of the variants is still raising concern because of the large number of people who remain unvaccinated…
The Delta variant could trigger yet another moderate surge of infections through many parts of the U.S. because of these pockets of unvaccinated people, according to a recent set of projections from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, which is helping the CDC plot the future course of the pandemic.
The projections indicate that infections could start to rise again as soon as some time in July, especially if the vaccination campaign continues to stall.
‘For the most part, it’s a moderate resurgence,’ says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University who is helping coordinate the hub.
‘We’re not having massive epidemics at a national level, but we have this kind of continuation of the virus just sticking around and keeping us on our toes,’ Lessler says. ‘And in specific places, there could be substantial epidemics still.’
And Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that the more the Delta variant spreads, the greater the chance even more dangerous mutants could evolve.
‘We know our vaccines work against this variant. However this variant represents a set of mutations that could lead to future mutations that evade our vaccines,’ Walensky said at the Tuesday briefing.
‘And that’s why it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated now to stop the chain of infection, the chain of mutations that could lead to a more dangerous variant,’ Walensky said.”
In a poll of 650+ global Sermo physicians, 82% said they are concerned by the Delta variant; and 72% believe their state or region is at risk for another covid surge triggered by the Delta variant. When asked what percentage of their state or region is vaccinated, this is how the physicians responded:
- 38% said 25 – 50% of people are vaccinated
- 36% said 50 – 70% are vaccinated
- 17% said 0 – 25% are vaccinated
- 8% said 70 – 90% are vaccinated
Eighty-seven percent fear that as new variants continue to emerge, we are at risk for strains that are resistant to the vaccine. But 61% believe that news of the Delta variant’s transmissibility could motivate vaccine-hesitant individuals to get the vaccine.
Here’s more of what Sermo physicians have to say on this topic:
All new strains must have something different and more aggressive.Traumatology/Trauma Surgery
Transmissibility has been widely reported but the mortality rates are more important and have been lacking… even in this post. If vulnerable populations have been vaccinated then I am not too concerned. We need more details with stratification by age and severity of disease.Neurosurgery
This is just the beginning – we are not prepared and not inoculating everyone in USA and elsewhere…Psychiatry
In Venezuela we are very far from being able to control this disease, between the lack of vaccines and people ignoring biosecurity measures, as health personnel, I see our present and future with great concern.Pediatrics (excluding surgery)
Good reason to raise vaccination rates and even extend them to the adolescent population (aged 12 – 17). One thing is clear: Either you are protected by vaccination or you are doomed to go through the infection. And time to choose between these two options runs by very quickly indeed.Ophthalmology