Just as we thought we were nearing the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new variant of the virus has been detected in the U.S., causing more panic and infecting more people. The Delta Covid-19 variant is very worrisome to health experts, who fear that it could be more dangerous for younger people who are waiting to get vaccinated, or who will not get vaccinated at all. The arrival of this deadly new variant could mean more spikes in cases this fall, unless more Americans get vaccinated.
The Delta Covid-19 Variant
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky expects the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, to eventually become the dominant variant in the United States, because studies suggest it is around 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. Within the last two weeks, the Delta variant has represented more than 20% of Covid-19 infections in the U.S., which is double what it was when the CDC last reported on its prevalence.
“Is the virus different? It is different, the Delta variant is much more likely to infect younger people…The fact that it catches all those people that aren’t vaccinated and it’s more likely to put them in the hospital, is a concern. We are paying more attention because the older folks are more highly vaccinated and we are seeing more of what there is of the disease occurring in the younger population.” said Kristiana McLarty, a third-year medical student at Morehouse School of Medicine.
Because of the seriousness of the Delta variant, the Biden Administration is urging more Americans to get vaccinated; while the White House acknowledges that they will not meet their goal of vaccinating 70% of all American adults by July 4, they are still hoping people will step up to fight this new variant.
“The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19. We seem to be following the pattern with the Delta variant, with a doubling time of about two weeks,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said at a White House briefing on the virus. “Good news: Our vaccines are effective against the Delta variant.”
What To Expect This Fall
Currently, infections and deaths from Covid-19 are at their lowest rates since the start of the pandemic, averaging roughly 11,000 new infections and fewer than 300 deaths per day. The falling numbers have meant more states opening up and lifting mask mandates, but this could all change come fall if more people do not get vaccinated. As it is, experts are currently expecting a surge in cases this winter, since data shows that the rate of vaccination greatly slowed down after vaccines became more available. Some states, including Arizona and Missouri, are already witnessing a spike in Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths, largely among people who are not vaccinated.
According to Ali Mokdad, MD, professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, 80-85% of Americans will have to be vaccinated by the end of the year to prevent a surge in cases, but that level of vaccination does not seem likely. As of now, only 16 states have reached the Biden administration’s goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one dose by July 4, and only around 50% of the total adult population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data.