- The introduction of the Delta variant has caused a new surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the United States.
- Unvaccinated people account for the vast majority of new COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
- According to a new CDC report, Trusted Source, there have been just 6,587 reports of breakthrough infections resulting in hospitalization or death among 163 million fully vaccinated adults since July 26 – a percentage of less than 0.01 percent.
The pandemic is still a contest between a virus that is becoming more contagious and evolving and giving vaccines that provide high levels of protection.
At this point, 70% of eligible Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, although many other countries are still struggling to secure enough vaccine supplies to even get close.
In the United States, vaccination availability is ubiquitous, as is the Delta version of the coronavirus was first found in India in December. Now, a version of that strain known as “Delta Plus,” which is even more contagious, has been discovered in India, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and South Korea.
According to infectious disease experts, the highly contagious Delta variant is fueling large-scale outbreaks among the unvaccinated.
Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, the senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Healthline that the variant is worrying because it is a more contagious variety of COVID-19 that would discover unvaccinated individuals and infect them at a high rate. “If unvaccinated people are at high risk of hospitalization and there are a lot of them in a given location, it may be a concern.
That’s what’s happening in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida, where local officials have rejected basic protections like mask laws, while vaccination rates among young adults remain low.
Meanwhile, in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, which has of the country’s highest immunization rates, local officials have reverted to requiring people to wear masks indoors in public, regardless of their vaccination status. This is related to an increase in infections caused by the Delta virus.
Up to 99 percent of persons having severe sickness from COVID-19 are unvaccinated, according to Arnab Mukherjea, chair of the Department of Public Health at California State University, East Bay, but no vaccination is 100 percent effective.
Mukherjea told Healthline, “There will always be a situation where something horrible happens to someone who did everything properly.” “The Delta variation is responsible for pretty much everything we’re seeing.”
‘A more contagious variant’
When a virus is given enough time and people to infect, mutations occur, and SARS-CoV-2 has had a lot of them – more than 200 million cases and counting.
“It was only a matter of time before a more contagious variety appeared,” Adalja said. “Before the Delta variant, this was clear with the Alpha variant.”
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the United States experienced a 44 percent rise in new cases during a seven-day period, up to 72,000 cases each day, during a White House news briefing Monday. This is higher than the top point reached in the United States last summer.
Both hospital admissions and deaths were on the rise.
According to Walensky, research reveals that the Delta version is far more contagious. Someone infected with the Alpha version, the first coronavirus variant discovered, may infect two more persons. The estimate with the Delta is closer to five or more. Those who have the Delta virus also have a greater viral load, which means they have more of the virus on their bodies, which could spread to others.
The Delta version, according to the CDC, is as contagious as chickenpox, a virus that was far more common until a vaccine was introduced in the United States in 1995. This means Delta can infect more people in a shorter period of time, resulting in transmission pockets mostly among the unvaccinated.
“While we badly want to be done with this pandemic, COVID-19 has not given upon us, so our fight will have to continue,” Walensky added.
As a result, the CDC now recommends that everyone, including children who are too young to be vaccinated but are returning to school, wear masks indoors.
Vaccines as well as the Delta variant
While experts are concerned about what the Delta and other variants may bring, they believe there is the reason for optimism because the vaccines — specifically, the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca — prevent people from developing severe COVID-19 infections that could result in hospitalization or death.
After a person had received two recommended doses of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines against the Delta variant, researchers in the United Kingdom found “only modest differences in vaccine effectiveness” in Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines against the Alpha variant in a study published in July in The New England Journal of Medicine.
According to a recent study from Imperial College London, unvaccinated persons are three times more likely than fully vaccinated people to test positive for COVID-19. Researchers also found that persons who have been fully vaccinated are less likely to spread the illness to others.
That’s fantastic news for vaccinated people who want to meet up with other vaccinated people who don’t live together in a safe environment.
Even in breakthrough infections, which occur among persons completely vaccinated against COVID-19, Walensky stated that regions with more people vaccinated have less severe disease.
“While vaccinated persons can spread the virus if they acquire a breakthrough infection, the chances of their getting sick in the first place are far lower,” she noted.
At the meeting, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told reporters that breakthrough infections are “expected and usually asymptomatic.” According to a new CDC reportTrusted Source, there have only been 6,587 reports of breakthrough infections resulting in hospitalization or death among 163 million fully vaccinated people since July 26.
Fauci explained, “That is a percentage of 0.01 percent or less.” “The bottom fact is that they are rare, and they rarely — not seldom, but exceptionally — result in hospitalization or death,” Fauci said.
He explained, “The COVID immunizations provide great protection against the Delta version, and it protects you, your family, and your community.”
Experts are concerned that even more strong and infectious variants may evolve before the pandemic is over, but they are also concerned about the destruction the Delta variant may cause.
As the Delta variety spreads, one major concern is that healthcare systems may become overburdened and unable to completely treat all patients. This is why attempts are being made to persuade individuals to be vaccinated or, at the very least, get tested if they have symptoms.
But, above all, public health experts want everyone who is able to get vaccinated.
“By shielding high-risk individuals through immunization, we hope to lessen the damage that these variations cause,” Adalja explained.
There will always be a baseline of cases, but Adalja claims that the vaccine dramatically reduces the severity of those cases. He believes that reinstituting mask orders, particularly among the fully vaccinated, will have little overall influence.
“Vaccinated people wearing masks will not play a large part in the pandemic since it is driven by the unvaccinated,” he added.