Hospitalizations are well below the winter peak but had not increased since mid-April.
FORT WORTH, Texas – The new Delta variant of COVID-19 first discovered in India and responsible for the outbreak in India is growing in the United States and Texas.
As of last week, it accounted for 2% of cases in the CDC’s southwest region, which includes Texas. Now it’s up to 10%.
Across the country, it accounts for 6% of cases, double the 3% level of last week. In the UK, which has seen the spread of COVID increase, it accounts for 60% of cases.
John Sims is the director of SaferCare Texas at UNTHSC, which helps with immunization.
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“I don’t think that’s a problem. I think it’s probably a certainty that’s going to come here, which further underscores the importance of the vaccine, ”Sims said.
While the Delta variant is more contagious and results in more serious illness, vaccines are still effective against it. A UK study found that Pfizer vaccines were 88% effective in preventing symptomatic illness after two doses.
“I really hope we have learned from thIIt’s pandemic that we really need to be more proactive, ”Sims said.
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Vaccinations in Texas have slowed, however, and 46% of eligible Texans are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the country. The United States, at its current rate, is now unlikely to meet President Biden’s target of 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4.
“I think there is some fear among people who get vaccinated and that concerns me,” Sims said.
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CDC director Rochelle Walensky called the variant opportunistic.
“Communities that are not well vaccinated, that have not met the vaccination targets that we are seeking, are the ones that will be most at risk in the future,” she said.
The weekly average COVID hospitalizations in Texas have increased by four consecutive days, which had not happened since mid-April. The current hospitalization level of 1,571 patients is still well below the state’s peak, but Sims says the murderous winter the state and country just experienced should be a lesson not to wait for the spread is getting worse.
“I don’t want our country, our state or our city to relive this,” he said. “The variant is capable of doing this and we have the tools to prevent it and should be using those tools.”
Dallas County officials have said they are looking to legally create a vaccine lottery or cash incentive program, and the Dallas Regional Chamber has announced the launch of a program with freebies from American and Southwest Airlines and local professional sports teams.
Sims said more access to vaccines and education are key to increasing rates and preventing unnecessary suffering.
“I think there are some communities that are suspicious of health workers in general, but also of the vaccine,” he said. “The risk of COVID-19 far outweighs the risks of getting vaccinated. “