The New Kid on The Block: Delta Variant

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

There isn't a day that goes by that everything in the world is completely the same as the day before. The same can be said about diseases, as they constantly are adapting to new environments. Viruses are never stagnant. As viruses come into contact with new people, they adapt traits from their hosts. These traits cause them to mutate and become stronger and more contagious. The Delta Variant has become the more dominant strain of COVID-19. The strain has ravaged India, England and now has made it's way into America as the new kid on the block.

Delta is more contagious than the other virus strains.

Delta is the name for the B.1.617.2. variant, a SARS-CoV-2 mutation that originally surfaced in India. The first Delta case was identified in December 2020, and the strain spread rapidly, soon becoming the dominant strain of the virus in both India and then Great Britain. Toward the end of June, Delta had already made up more than 20% of cases in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates. That number is rising swiftly, prompting predictions that the strain will soon become the dominant variant here.

Unvaccinated people are at risk.

People who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are most at risk. In the U.S., there is a disproportionate number of unvaccinated people in Southern and Appalachian states including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and West Virginia, where vaccination rates are low (in some of these states, the number of cases is on the rise even as some other states are lifting restrictions because their cases are going down).

Delta could lead to 'hyperlocal outbreaks.'

If Delta continues to move fast enough to accelerate the pandemic, the CDC says the biggest questions will be about transmissibility—how many people will get the Delta variant and how fast will it spread? The problem is that this allows the virus to hop, skip, and jump from one poorly vaccinated area to another.

There is still more to learn about Delta.

One important question is whether the Delta strain will make you sicker than the original virus. “Based on hospitalizations tracked in Great Britain [which has been about a month ahead of the U.S. with Delta], the variant is probably a bit more pathogenetic,” Dr. Wilson says. While more research is needed, early information about the severity of Delta includes a study from Scotland that showed the Delta variant was about twice as likely as Alpha to result in hospitalization in unvaccinated individuals (and vaccines reduced that risk significantly).

Vaccination is the best protection against Delta.

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from Delta is to get fully vaccinated, the doctors say. That means if you get a two-dose vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna, for example, you must get both shots and then wait the recommended two-week period for those shots to take full effect. Whether or not you are vaccinated, it’s also important to follow CDC prevention guidelines that are available for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

ZÖe Pediatrics is committed to the education and prevention of COVID-19.

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