CORONAVIRUS US

Will the US establish new restriction after Covid-19 Delta Variant?

The Delta variant of covid-19 is more contagious than the original strain and spreading across the globe, is expected to be the dominant strain in the US.

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Will the US establish new restriction after Covid-19 Delta Variant?
AJENG DINAR ULFIANA REUTERS

The highly-transmissible variant of covid-19 Delta, which was first discovered in India, is now present in 92 countries and on track to become the dominant strain worldwide. The spread of the Delta variant has health officials recommending even the fully vaccinated to resume precautions as hospitals fill up with the unvaccinated.

The Delta variant first appeared in the fall of last year and is believed to be behind the incredible surge of cases in India this spring. Research out of the UK where the Delta variant makes up 90 percent of new cases shows that symptoms of the strain are different from those of other strains, aiding in its rapid expansion. The rise in cases in the UK from the Delta variant forced the government to delay reopening the country at least one month.

Delta on track to be the dominant strain in the US

Research suggests that the Delta variant is more transmissible than other variants. It appears to be 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, currently the dominant strain in the US, which itself is 50 percent more transmissible than the original strain. The Delta variant went from 10 percent of new cases in the US to 20 percent in the span of a week and is expected to replace Alpha as the dominant strain.

The Delta variant is also responsible for a surge of new infections among the unvaccinated and increased hospitalizations. In the US just over 54 percent of the population has received one dose of covid-19 vaccine and over 46 percent are fully vaccinated. However, rates vary widely across the US.

Last week, South Dakota saw the largest rate of increase with a 167 percent jump in cases, only 45 percent of the population is fully vaccinated and just over 50 percent had received one dose. Those who get Delta covid-19 are 2.61 times more likely to end up in hospital than with Alpha. Florida saw the highest number of people hospitalized, 2,891, last week a 10 percent increase on the week before. The bulk of patients admitted to hospital are unvaccinated.

Delta variant force reimposing covid-19 restrictions

Around the world countries are putting pandemic restrictions back in place after relaxing the rules. Major cities in Australia are under lockdown and Germany has imposed travel restrictions onvirus-variant zones.” South Africa has tightened its covid restrictions for a two-week period and Israel has reinstated its mask mandate for 10 days.

The World Health Organization recently advised those fully vaccinated to mask up, socially distance and practice other precautions. Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t changed their advice yet, Los Angeles County has recommended that everyone wear masks in public indoor spaces. Likewise, in Illinois the governor gave the same advice.

No hard restrictions have yet been imposed in the US yet, but if the Delta variant continues to spread unchecked in unvaccinated communities and hospitalizations increase, health officials may need to take steps to slow its advance beyond vaccination.