The highly transmissible Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus is reportedly spreading rapidly in the US. Within the next two or three weeks, the Delta strain can become the dominant variant across the United States. Officials say this development adds urgency to the country’s vaccination drive.
COVID-19 Delta Strain
The Delta strain first emerged in India last year. Also known as B.1.617.2, experts expect this strain to make up at least half of all COVID infections in the US by July. William Lee, vice president of science at Helix, authored the analysis warning of the potential surge from the Delta strain.
Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data on Tuesday showing that the prevalence of the Delta strain more than doubled over the two weeks ended June 19. Currently, 1 in 5 COVID-19 infected Americans, or 20.6%, carried the Delta strain. The week before, Delta only accounted for 9.9%.
CDC Warns Of Delta Becoming The Dominant Strain
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser, warned about the dangers of the new strain. “The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19,” he said during a briefing.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky agreed with the assessment. She said that the Delta strain is closing in on becoming the dominant strain. “Based on CDC data and the experience in the United Kingdom, we would also anticipate that the Delta variant is likely to become the dominant variant in the United States over the next month,” she said in a statement. In fact, Delta accounts for almost half of Covid-19 cases in some Midwest and mountain states.
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Delta Growing Faster Than Gamma
Experts worry about this strain as it spreads faster than its closest rival, the Gamma strain. The latter is also causing a growing number of COVID-19 cases, but the spread is seen as much slower.
Public health officials say the Delta strain is especially risky to unvaccinated individuals. Per an earlier study, Delta is 50% more transmissible than Alpha, the current dominant US. strain. In turn, Alpha is 50% more transmissible than the dominant strain last year.
Studies also show that the Delta strain can produce a more severe form of the disease, according to Dr. Fauci. Getting a full vaccination against Covid-19 is currently the conventional option that offers significant protection against the Delta variant. This is according to data from Public Health England.
Protections May Be Temporary
Dr. Walensky added that current protection may not last permanently. “This variant represents a set of mutations that could lead to future mutations that evade our vaccines, and that’s why it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated now, to stop the chain of infections, the chain of mutations that could lead to a more dangerous variant,” she added.
Beginning last year, the Delta strain spread from India to about 70 countries. In the UK, Delta accounts for 87% of the country’s COVID infections.
This led to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson extending the K’s lockdown to another four more weeks. In the US, Helix’s study found that the Delta variant spread fastest in counties with low vaccination rates Meanwhile, Gamma spread more quickly in counties with higher vaccination rates.
Watch the CNBC video reporting that Dr. Anthony Fauci thinks the Delta variant is the greatest threat to eliminating Covid-19:
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