TL;DR (4-minute read)
- The Delta variant (B.1.617.2) is a highly contagious and more severe version of the current virus strain. The first Delta case in the United States was diagnosed in March 2021, but the cases have multiplied at an alarming rate since then.
- Studies show that the Delta variant spreads between 40 and 60 percent faster than the Alpha variant, the current Covid-19 variant, which is 50 percent more transmissible than the original strain first detected in Wuhan, China. Some experts say that the United States is in a good position to halt the spread of the Delta variant before it gets out of hand due to the sufficient supply of face masks, hospital equipment, and medial staff; however, other experts worry that this new variant could mark the beginning of another Covid-19 wave, one which results in more hospitalizations and deaths.
- Firstly, from what is known so far, people who are vaccinated against Covid-19 appear to be safe from the Delta variant, as with other Covid-19 variants. Unvaccinated people, on the other hand, kids, and young people are a concern as well. All in all, it is too soon to answer the majority of the questions regarding this new, scary Covid-19 variant, but as more and more information is released about the Delta variant, it is important to consider anti-virus precautions to keep everyone safe.
The world has suffered for the past year and a half due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but for the first time since the emergence of this deadly virus, humanity has started to feel some hope again due to the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines (insert link to vaccines article). Although these vaccines do not provide 100% efficacy against infections, they still work very well. There seem to be, according to The Seattle Times, only 3,907 breakthrough cases, cases in people who have already been vaccinated or in people who have already had a Covid-19 infection, and 750 deaths as of June 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts, however, warn of a concern that new mutations of the virus could emerge, some being more deadly and infectious.
Key Questions to Consider:
- What is the Delta variant?
- How does it compare to the current COVID-19 variants?
- How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine against it?
1: What is the Delta variant?
The Delta variant (B.1.617.2), is a highly contagious and an even more severe version of the current virus strain in India, SARS-CoV-2, which spread through that country and Great Britain. The first Delta case in the United States was diagnosed in March 2021, but the cases are multiplying at an alarming rate. Although it is true that all viruses evolve over time to be better prepared against the body’s immune system, the Delta virus is far more contagious and deadly than any other Covid-19 variant.
2: How does it compare to the current Covid-19 variants?
“Studies to date suggest the Delta variant is between 40 and 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in the U.K.—which was already 50 percent more transmissible than the original viral strain first detected in Wuhan, China.” The first case of this variant was identified in December 2020, quickly spreading and becoming the dominant strain of the virus in India and Great Britain. As of June 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant makes up 20 percent of Covid-19 cases in the United States. Some experts say that the United States is in a good position to fight this new variant due to preparations, such as face masks, ventilation equipment, and medical staff. Other experts, however, worry that the Delta variant may also result in a more severe, life-threatening disease. “A study in Scotland, published in the Lancet, found the hospitalization rate of patients with that variant was about 85 percent higher than that of people with the Alpha variant.” As the Delta variant cases rise swiftly, various questions and concerns are emerging from the American people who are eager to return to their normal lives.
3: What about the Covid-19 vaccine?
Firstly, from what is known so far, people who are vaccinated against Covid-19 appear to be safe from the Delta variant, as with other Covid-19 variants. Unvaccinated people, on the other hand, kids, and young people are a concern as well. “A recent study from the United Kingdom showed that children and adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with Delta,” This situation is made even more uncertain because no vaccine has been approved for children aged 5 to 12 in the United States. “As older age groups get vaccinated, those who are younger and unvaccinated will be at higher risk of getting COVID-19 with any variant,” says Dr. Inci Yildirim, MD, PhD, a Yale Medicine pediatric infectious diseases specialist and a vaccinologist. “But Delta seems to be impacting younger age groups more than previous variants.”
However, one important question that researchers are still attempting to answer is whether the Delta variant causes more breakthrough cases. “Breakthrough is a big question,” Dr. Wilson says. “At least with immunity from the mRNA vaccines, it doesn’t look like it will be a problem.” All in all, it is too soon to answer the majority of the questions regarding this new, scary Covid-19 variant, but one thing is for certain: whatever problem that humanity faces, it is important to work together to solve this issue together. Experts state that face masks and social distancing was one of the primary reasons for the dip in cases over the last couple of months, so as more and more information is released about the Delta variant, it is important to consider these anti-virus precautions to keep everyone, primarily those who are more at-risk than other, safe.