Last updated on August 25, 2021
A new strain of COVID-19 referred to as the “Delta variant” threatens to spread quickly in states with low vaccination rates.
What is the Delta Variant?
The Delta variant is currently the most dominant Covid-19 strain in the United States, known for being far more dangerous and transmissible than the original (CDC). The virus was first detected in India, where it was reported to infect at around two times the rate. It now resides in over 80 countries, halting plans for reopening in areas such as the United Kingdom.
The Delta strain is not the only mutation to occur. There are less dominant variants such as the Alpha and Gamma strain, yet at the moment, it is the biggest concern. In comparison to the Alpha strain, the Delta strain infects at a rate of 60 percent greater. Dr. Anthony Fauci said to the LA Times that the strain is “currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19.”
Other than its increased ability to spread, not much is known about the Delta variant. This is due to its recent discovery. Countries, where the strain is present, have been asked to closely monitor their civilians and encourage increased testing.
Many Americans are still hesitant to receive the vaccination as they worry about potential side effects. Given that each individual, there is no way to predict the way one’s body will react to the vaccine, but a large majority do not experience dangerous reactions. Of the few side effects listed, heart inflammation is among the leading concerns. When interviewed by Good Morning America Walensky, the Director of the CDC claimed, “These cases of mild heart inflammation, the risks of that which are quite rare, are overwhelmed by the benefit of getting vaccinated.”
Vaccine dosage averages have continued to fall since early June. As of mid-June, the United States is at approximately a 46 percent vaccination rate. Certain states are lacking, namely Texas, Missouri, Mississippi, and Wyoming, where under 50 percent of the total population is vaccinated. The goal with vaccinations is to reach herd immunity, meaning that a majority of the population would be vaccinated thus containing the spread. The exact percent is unknown because it varies for each virus, but the estimated amount is around mid 70 to low 80 percent.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
Health officials fear that within two to three weeks, the Delta variant will be the leading strain in the United States. The CDC recently released data showing the increase in cases from June 5 to June 19. On June 5th, the strain accounted for 9.9% of cases, whereas by June 19, it had risen to 20.6% of reported cases, meaning that it doubled within the two-week period.
Given the potential of another outbreak, the nation must continue to push vaccinations. Nearly 15 percent of people are on the cusp of getting vaccinated, claiming that they will do so only if it is required for their jobs or proves to be a necessity to aid their everyday life. One solution the government is attempting to encourage to increase the total vaccination rate is having trusted members within communities speak up and push the benefits of the vaccine. Those who have both doses of the vaccine are very protected from the new strain, so it is even more important now than before to get vaccinated.