It is common for viruses to change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. These variants can affect the strength, symptoms, or transmission rate of the virus. There have been multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 identified in the United States and globally throughout this pandemic. One variant that you may be hearing more and more about is the Delta variant.
The highly transmissible delta variant of the COVID-19 virus was first identified in India and has now been reported in at least 104 countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant is now the dominant strain of the virus, representing 51.7% of new COVID cases in the United States as of the week of July 3.
The Delta variant is a cause of concern to health authorities because it is thought to be the most transmissible variant yet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant is estimated to be approximately 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was first identified in Britain last year. Officials believe it is more contagious because of its ability to partially evade the antibodies made by the immune system after a coronavirus infection or vaccination.
Many health experts fear the variant will cause a surge in new cases this fall, hitting the unvaccinated the hardest. Currently, only 48% of adult Americans are fully vaccinated, well below the 70% most believe is needed to achieve herd immunity. In fact, areas in the U.S. with low vaccination rates are already beginning to see delta-driven outbreaks, and the number of COVID-19 cases has begun to climb again nationally.
The good news is that data suggests that several widely used shots, including those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, appear to retain most of their effectiveness against the delta variant.
Jamaica Hospital urges everyone eligible to get vaccinated if they have not already done so. Vaccination is the best way to stop the spread of all the variants and reduce the odds that new, even more, dangerous variants emerge.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.