WASHINGTON — As more Americans get vaccinated, there is a growing concern around a new COVID-19 strain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have labeled the Delta variant as a “variant of concern.”
A viewer sent us an email asking about the new Delta variant of the virus. She basically wanted to know: Even with all the vaccines out, is there still a high risk for the Delta variant here in the United States?
Is there a high risk of the Delta variant in the United States?
The Delta variant is becoming more predominant in the United States. Unvaccinated people are at risk. Initial studies show the vaccines do seem to resist it.
- Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, an internal medicine doctor from the California Pacific Medical Center
- Dr. Matthew Frieman, an immunology expert from the University of Maryland School of Medicine
- Dr. Thomas Hartung, a vaccine expert from Johns Hopkins University
- A new study published in the medical journal the Lancet
WHAT WE FOUND
“The Delta Variant is very concerning, not only for unvaccinated adults, but for children who have not yet gotten vaccinated, they are extremely vulnerable,” Dr. Ungerleider said.
“The Delta Variant was initially identified in India where it was first detected,” Dr. Frieman explained.
“It is so much more infectious that it has, for example, in the UK [United Kingdom] become the predominant variant,” Dr. Hartung said.
According to our experts, the Delta variant can be at least 40% more infectious than the original virus strain, which is why it is quickly becoming one of the predominant strains in the U.S.
“The Delta variant is spreading in populations where there's low levels of vaccination,” Dr. Frieman said.
We are still learning how well the vaccines perform against this new strain. A new UK study released in June showed that in a group of 14,000 patients the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective against it.
“The best way to protect against these things is to vaccinate as many people as we can,” Dr. Frieman said.
“So this is really a very strong argument for getting the vaccine as fast as possible in as many homes as possible,” Dr. Hartung said.