As states like New York and California fully re-open to pre-COVID status, the so-called Delta variant of the coronavirus now accounts for nearly 10 percent of new cases in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Tuesday.
The variant, which was first detected in India, was given a designation of “variant of concern,” which occurs when there is increased evidence of factors such as transmissibility, severity, and/or reduced effectiveness of vaccines or treatments.
The change in classification “is based on mounting evidence that the Delta variant spreads more easily and causes more severe cases when compared to other variants, including B.1.1.7 (Alpha),” the CDC said in a statement. The alpha variant was first detected in the United Kingdom, and in April, it became the dominant strain in the U.S.
Because the Delta variant is able to spread from person to person more easily, experts say those who have not had the vaccine remain especially vulnerable.
BREAKING—CDC now officially declares #DeltaVariant a “variant of concern”—because much more transmissible (50% faster than #B117, 2x than original strain), more severe (2.5x hospitalization risk than B117, 4x original) & 1 dose vaccine evasive.🧵 #COVID19https://t.co/jZCgfzFLla pic.twitter.com/SszvXuysze
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) June 15, 2021
Data for the two-week period ending June 5 predicted that the Delta variant accounts for 9.9 percent of cases in the U.S., the CDC said. For the two-week period ending May 22, that figure was 2.7 percent. Experts who track viral activity weren’t surprised by the increase in the proportion of delta cases in the U.S.
The vaccines already available in the U.S. are all effective against the Delta variant, as well as other circulating variants. Two doses are required for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one [writer’s disclosure: I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March and experienced no side effects].
If you've received one dose of an mRNA vaccine, it's crucial that you get the second dose—especially given the spread of the concerning Delta variant. Without the second dose, your protection is markedly weaker.
— Dr. Tom Frieden (@DrTomFrieden) June 15, 2021
The U.K. is seeing a rapid spread of Delta, leading Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay the country’s reopening by a month, to July 19th. As of Tuesday, just over 54 percent of adults in the U.S. had been fully vaccinated, and nearly 65 percent had received at least one dose.
Delta Farce: How Boris Johnson's incompetent handling of the new variant extended lockdown pic.twitter.com/BrdS9K4Sai
— Led By Donkeys (@ByDonkeys) June 15, 2021