According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant is now the most dominant variant of COVID-19 in the U.S. About 83% of COVID-19 cases are attributable to the B.1.617.2 variant of coronavirus, up from about 52% only two weeks prior.
Health officials are emphasizing, though, that vaccinations are so far proving to be effective against more serious versions of infections, including hospitalizations and deaths, and are emphasizing the efficacy of vaccinations for those who have so far been unwilling to take that basic precaution.
“Right now we have two Americas: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated America,” Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NPR. “We’re feeling pretty good right now because it’s the summer. But come winter, if we still have a significant percentage of the population that is unvaccinated, we’re going to see this virus surge again.”
Another medical expert contacted by NPR, Yale vaccine researcher Saad Omer, was more pointed in his observation. He said, “The world has to get its act together. Otherwise yet another, potentially more dangerous, variant could emerge.”
Yet, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Dr. Marty Makary, for a Fox News story exploring the possibility of new mask mandates being implemented, downplayed the threat of the delta variant and how it’s become the most dominant strain in the country.
“While 40-60% more contagious,” Makary said of the delta variant, “the COVID in all its variant forms is circulating at very low levels in the population. The only people who should be concerned are those who do not have immunity either through vaccination or natural immunity.”
But Dr. David Wohl, a professor of medicine in the infectious diseases division at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told NBC News he’s concerned about the situation with delta variant in the United Kingdom. In that nation, despite having 68% of its population vaccinated compared to 55% of the U.S., the delta variant there accounts for nearly 100% of COVID-19 cases.
“The only real difference between us and them is delta,” Wohl said. “I’m really worried that what’s going on in the U.K. is precisely what’s going to happen here.”
He added, “If you’re waiting for some magical moment” to get vaccinated, “this is it.”
Read more on the delta variant:
- Does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine protect against the delta variant of COVID?
- Does the Moderna vaccine protect against the delta variant of COVID?
- The Pfizer vaccine might not be as effective against the delta variant as we thought
- Scientists are beginning to get concerned about the lambda variant of COVID
- Should everybody be wearing masks again because of delta variant concerns?
- What is the delta plus variant of COVID?
- How dangerous is the delta COVID variant to kids who aren’t vaccinated?
- The delta variant of COVID has different symptoms than other coronavirus versions
- If you’ve had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, should you get a Pfizer booster?