Delta Variant Is On The Rise. Experts Are Concerned

As U.S. states lift more coronavirus restrictions, experts are worried people who aren’t fully vaccinated could contribute to further spread of the virus. The Delta variant, first reported in India, currently accounts for nearly 10% of coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to the CDC.The Delta variant is on its way to becoming the dominant strain of coronavirus in the US, raising concerns that outbreaks could hit unvaccinated people this fall.  And a new study shows the Delta variant is associated with almost double the risk of hospitalization compared to the Alpha variant.

The Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, which is “stickier” and more contagious than the original strain of novel coronavirus, became the dominant strain in the US this spring.But health experts worry the Alpha variant could be trumped by the Delta variant, which appears to be even more transmissible and may cause more severe illness for those not vaccinated.Right now, about 10% of Covid-19 cases in the US can be attributed tothe Delta variant. But that proportion is doubling every two weeks, Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said in a CBS interview Sunday.He said the Delta variant will probably take over as the dominant strain of coronavirus in the US.

“I think in parts of the country where you have less vaccination — particularly in parts of the South, where you have some cities where vaccination rates are low — there’s a risk that you could see outbreaks with this new variant,” Gottlieb said.While 52.4% of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine, only 43.4% have been fully vaccinated, according to data Sunday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Delta variant could pose a serious risk for states lagging in Covid-19 vaccinations, but the good news is Americans can stave off the danger by getting vaccinated.Studies suggest those who are fully vaccinated have protection against the Delta variant.  “We have the tools to control this and defeat it,” Gottlieb said. “We just need to use those tools.”

New research shows the Delta variant may lead to more hospitalizations

The Delta variant — or the B1.617.2 strain first detected in India — has been linked to about double the risk of hospitalization compared to the Alpha variant first found in the UK, according to the preliminary findings of a Scottish study published Monday in The Lancet.The Alpha variant used to be the dominant strain in the UK. But last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Delta variant had taken over — making up 91% of new cases in the UK.

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Researchers from the universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland analyzed data from 5.4 million people in Scotland. The study found that between April 1 and June 6, there were 19,543 Covid-19 cases and 377 hospitalizations.Among those, 7,723 cases and 134 hospitalizations were caused by the Delta variant.  The early findings suggest two doses the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine does protect against the Delta variant — but it may be at a lower level of protection than against the Alpha variant.The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was found to provide 79% protection against infection from the Delta variant, compared with 92% against the Alpha variant, in community cases at least two weeks after the second dose.

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