The United States is now dealing with the delta variant of the coronavirus, a highly contagious variant that was first identified in India in December.As with previous variants, the delta variant has spread to many countries across the world, including, most notably, the United Kingdom, where it’s now responsible for around 99 percent of new cases.
The United States first announced that it had diagnosed a case with the delta variant in March this year. It’s now the dominating variant nationwide, making up more than half of all new infections in the country.Confirmed infections with the delta variant have also been doubling since June. The average is more than 24,000 a day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This rise has been attributed, in part, to the delta variant being an estimated 60 percentTrusted Source more transmissible than the alpha variant, according to recent research.Additionally, areas with low vaccination rates are more likely to see a surge in infections. “The unvaccinated population is at high risk for infection. If this variant continues to move quickly, especially in areas of low vaccination rates, the U.S. could see a surge in SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Dr. Miriam Smith, chief of infectious disease at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Teaching Hospital in Queens, New York City.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle WalenskyTrusted Source issued a warning on this potential surge earlier this month.In a press briefing, she said preliminary data suggested that 99.5 percent of the people who died from COVID-19 since January were unvaccinated.
“We know that the delta variant… is currently surging in pockets of the country with low vaccination rates,” she said.In Missouri, which has a vaccination rate of 40.26 percent, confirmed coronavirus infections have almost doubled in the past 2 weeks.In contrast, Vermont reported only 32 cases on July 12 and currently has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country at 67.70 percent.
This echoes findings from a U.K. studyTrusted Source that found the delta variant twice as likely to lead to hospitalization, and both the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines being effective in reducing this risk.
“We also know that our authorized vaccines prevent severe disease, hospitalization, and death from the delta variant,” Walensky said.Dr. Theodore Strange, the interim chair of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, said the data supports this.“The safety and efficacy of the current vaccines are very clear.
These three vaccines do work to prevent disease and the spread of disease, and they are as safe as any other vaccines that have been in use. Although some side effects have been reported, these issues are rare and treatable,” he told Healthline. All three vaccines are proven to be effective in varying degrees against the original variant of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19.However, since the delta variant emerged, scientists have been trying to establish whether these vaccines are as effective against it.We broke down what the current data says. But new research could mean this data will change over time.
Due to limited research so far, trying to determine the effectiveness of each vaccine against the delta variant remains a challenge. However, there have been promising results from multiple studies. According to an analysis carried out by Public Health England, two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appeared to be about 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease and 96 percent effective against hospitalization with the delta variant.
The same study suggested that the vaccine was approximately 80 percent effective against preventing infection from the delta variant. Scientists came to this conclusion after analyzing 14,019 people with an infection, 166 of whom were hospitalized, in England.Vaccines had a protective effect against infections with delta and hospital cases were milder, the study found.Public Health England also shared real-world data in May that solidified the importance of having a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The analysis suggested that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offered only about 33 percent protection against symptomatic disease.This was a reduction from the previous 50 percent effectiveness estimated against the alpha variant.