What Does the COVID-19 Delta Variant Mean to You?
Recently I mentioned how the new COVID-19 Delta variant was starting to cause a lot of problems. Both globally and here in the U.S.
I was hoping I would not have to revisit this subject so soon. But things have gotten much worse since that communication.
Whenever a new variant of a virus emerges, the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) try to judge how dangerous it is. In the U.S., they label them as a “variant of interest.” Or a “variant of concern.” Or a “variant of high consequence.”
As of this writing, the Delta variant is still a variant of concern. But that could change to “high consequence” soon. Well over one-half of the new COVID cases in the U.S. are from the Delta variant. Including 80 percent in areas of the Midwest and upper mountain states.
What Is It?
First let’s examine what the Delta variant is. Then we can look at some statistics and trends. And last, I’ll discuss vaccines and ask for your opinion.
The official name of the Delta variant is B.1.617.2. It’s one of four to emerge from India. Cough and loss of smell are less common than with the original. But fever, headache, sore throat and runny nose are present.
Medical experts say the Delta variant is at least 50 percent more transmissible than the Alpha strain, which originated in the UK. The Alpha strain was 50 percent more contagious than the original coronavirus from China.
Recently the Delta variant became the dominant strain in America. Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “It’s essentially taking over.” He added that the Delta variant is the “greatest threat” to the nation’s efforts to eliminate COVID-19.
New Cases Rising Again
The number of new coronavirus cases in America had dropped significantly as of recently. From a high of 300,779 on January 8 to 4,063 on June 20.
It certainly looked like we were emerging from the woods. If not completely out of them. Almost everything was opening up again. Including restaurants, bars, salons, gyms, etc. Facemasks were no longer required in most places of business.
But the numbers have been ticking up slowly but surely lately. Daily new cases reached 41,278 on July 13. More than one-half of the 50 states were seeing daily increases.
A vast majority of these new cases are blamed on the Delta variant. There is concern that if this variant continues to increase infections, as well as hospitalizations and deaths, things will get even worse in the fall. That’s when people will be spending more time indoors.
The ‘Fastest and Fittest’
According to Yale Medicine, the average person who becomes infected with the Delta variant spreads it to three or four people. That’s compared with transmission to one or two people from the original coronavirus strain.
This variant is being called the “fastest and fittest” of the variants by the WHO. Due to how quickly it transmits and how difficult it is to combat.
Dr. F. Perry Wilson is a Yale Medicine epidemiologist. Here’s what he says. “Delta is outcompeting everything else and becoming the dominant strain.”
And now we’re hearing about a Delta Plus variant. It’s considered a “subvariant” to Delta. It has a mutation that allows the virus to better attack lung cells. And potentially escape vaccines.
Are Vaccines Effective Against Delta?
There has been much talk about if and how well the current approved COVID-19 vaccines can fight off the Delta variant.
As I’ve expressed each time I discuss vaccines, we neither recommend nor discourage people from getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
We believe this is a personal decision. People should make it based on what they believe to be best for themselves and their families. But we do report vaccine-related information, statistics and comments from medical experts.
As of this writing, we’re told the vast majority of people becoming infected with the Delta variant are not vaccinated.
Many Young People Shunning Vaccines
States where vaccination rates are lowest – Southern and Appalachian states including Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia – are seeing higher new infection rates.
When hyper-local outbreaks occur, healthcare systems can become overwhelmed. That means sick individuals don’t get the care they need.
Many Americans getting infected these days are between 18 and 29 years old. Some attribute that to the fact that only 38 percent of those individuals are partially or fully vaccinated.
In some areas where restrictions were recently lifted, they’re being imposed again. Including Los Angeles County. That’s where public health officials are encouraging everyone to mask up in public places. Even if they’ve been vaccinated.
Mississippi Children on Life Support
Another area of concern is school-aged children. No vaccine has been approved for children under 12.
A vast majority of these children will return to in-school learning over the next several weeks.
A number of parents in Mississippi are panicking these days. Newsweek magazine recently reported that 10 children in the state were on life support due to Delta variant infections. Two others were in intensive care units.
The CDC recommends that unvaccinated children and adults wear masks and avoid crowds. As well as wash hands properly and often, and stay home if sick.
What Do You Think?
A while back we took an informal poll to see what our readers think about the COVID-19 vaccines. About 50 percent of you said you’d never receive one of those vaccines.
Approximately 25 percent said you would get a vaccine as soon as it was available. The other 25 percent said you’d take a wait and see approach.
I’d like to check back with you folks on this again. If you’re comfortable responding, please let us know how you feel.
- “1” means you’ll never get the vaccine.
- “2” means you’ve already received a vaccine or plan to soon.
- “3” means you’re still taking a wait and see position.
Feel free to add a comment if you want to.