Coronavirus US: why the covid-19 Delta variant is more dangerous
The Delta variant now accounts for 20% of all new cases of covid-19 in the United States, with experts warning it will likely become the most dominant strain the country.
The Delta variant of covid-19 that emerged from India has now spread to more than 80 countries and is responsible for 90% and 70% of all new cases in the United Kingdom and Israel, respectively.
In the United States the Delta variant represents around 20% of new cases, although experts believe it will likely become the dominant strain in the county.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has reported that Delta looks to be “following the same pattern” as the Alpha variant that was first discovered in the UK, with the number of infections doubling in the US about every two weeks.
“Similar to the situation in the UK, the Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate covid-19,” Fauci told reporters last week.
Why is the Delta variant more dangerous?
The Delta variant is more dangerous than previous strains due to the fact that it is much more contagious. The WHO, which only flagged Delta as a “variant of concern” in May 2021, says this the “fastest and fittest” variant of covid-19 found to date.
Delta is understood to be 50-60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was 50-60% more transmissible than the original strain of covid-19 found in Wuhan in December, 2019. Experts say the Delta variant spreads more easily due to mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies, AP reports.
It is still unknown if the Delta makes people sicker or more susceptible to death, since more data needs to be collected, Dr. Jacob John, who studies viruses at the Christian Medical College at Vellore in southern India, told AP.
Are vaccines effective against delta?
Studies have concluded that the vaccines currently being administered in the US are effective against variants, including the Delta variant.
Both Dr. Fauci and CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky have spoken publicly in recent days to assure Americans that the vaccine works against Delta.
“As worrisome as this Delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work,” Walensky told ABC’s Good Morning America. If you get vaccinated, “you’ll be protected against this delta variant,” she added.
“The effectiveness of the vaccines, in this case, two weeks after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech was 88% effective against the delta and 93% effective against alpha when dealing with symptomatic disease,” Fauci said.
A study in the UK determined that the two-dose Pfizer/BioNTECh and AstraZeneca vaccines were equally protective for those who got both doses but were less so among those who got one dose, which is why experts are urging people important to be fully vaccinated.