The highly transmissible Delta variant—first detected by scientists in India last fall—already has spread to more than one hundred forty countries and has become the dominant strain in the United States after only a few months.
In fact, this particular variant is now responsible for more than 95 percent of all sequenced cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, the seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases in the country is approximately one hundred forty thousand—which is more than ten times higher compared to just two months ago and about 15 percent higher compared to the week prior, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“We continue to see a rise in cases driven by the more transmissible Delta variant with cases concentrated in communities with lower vaccination rates,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients recently noted during a virtual briefing on the coronavirus.
“So, this remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he added.
Amid this highly concerning backdrop, UC Davis Health has identified certain facts about the Delta variant that all Americans should know about. Here are five of them.
Delta Symptoms Are Same
The medical center notes that the symptoms of the Delta variant “appear to be the same as the original version of COVID-19, (but) physicians are seeing people getting sicker quicker, especially for younger people.” Generally, vaccinated individuals are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms if they are infected by the variant.
Variant Affecting Unvaccinated More
According to UC Davis, 97 percent of patients hospitalized with the virus are unvaccinated. “In California and across the U.S., data shows that areas with lower vaccination rates tend to have higher COVID-19 infection rates,” according to the medical center.
Delta Variant Could Be ‘Catastrophic’
The variant could be “catastrophic” in communities with low vaccination rates and rural areas with limited access to health care. “This is already being seen around the world in poorer countries where the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t as accessible. Health experts say the impact could be felt for decades to come,” according to the medical center.
Wishing They Had Been Inoculated
Physicians at UC Davis Health have said that “a number of younger patients, when they come in with critical illness, say that they wish they would have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.”
More Coronavirus Variants to Come
The Delta variant might be grabbing most of the headlines these days, but the medical center notes that “the Lambda variant out of South America is also emerging.”
“As long as a chunk of people across the world are unvaccinated, new strains of the virus will continue to develop and cause problems,” the medical center concludes.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.