As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted andthe pace of vaccinations has slowed in the United States, the rise of a new variant of the coronavirus worries some health experts. The variant, known as Delta or B.1.617.2, was first detected in India and has spread to over 60 countries. In the UK, it accounts for around 60% of coronavirus cases.
In the United States, it currently accounts for 6% of infections, although in some states it accounts for more than 18% of sampled coronavirus cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So what about the Delta variant that worries health experts? USA TODAY spoke to two experts for their advice.
What are the symptoms of the Delta variant?
Dr Bhakti Hansoti is Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and International Health at Johns Hopkins University and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Hansoti said that Delta variant infections in India and the United States still havesymptoms of the original Sars-CoV-2 virus, just more severe.
Hansoti said doctors have found an increased likelihood of hearing loss, severe abdominal pain and nausea in patients infected with the new variant. In most cases, patients are more likely to be hospitalized, need oxygen therapy, and experience other complications.
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Should Vaccinated Americans Be Worried?
No, if you have received your second dose.
A new study from Public Health England has shown that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic Delta variant disease, and even more effective in preventing hospitalization and death. The study, however, found that one dose of the Pfizer vaccine was only 33% protective.
“So without that (second dose) it still makes them very vulnerable [to sickness] and this variant is highly transmissible, ”Hansoti told USA TODAY.
Jonathan Baktari, CEO of e7 Health, a healthcare and wellness company, said the Delta variant speaks to the importance of receiving both doses of the vaccine.
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How are the variants formed?
The CDC says the coronavirus variants are the result of changes to the genes of the virus. Every time a virus replicates, mutations naturally occur in its genetic material. The CDC lists a total of nine common variants that it is surveillance.
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Why are health experts concerned?
Baktari said the biggest threat with the Delta variant is its ability to easily and quickly infect. He likened it to a sticky object – if an infected person is in a room and talks or sneezes, they’ll attach themselves more easily to another person.
“The aerosol will release the virus and the virus will have an easier time latching onto its next victim so to speak,” Baktari said.
Hansoti’s concerns are not just about the variant, but also the Americans’ desire to get back to normal this summer. People are exhausted from months of social distancing and isolation. It’s time for socializing, vacations and vacations. These activities mixed with a highly transmissible variant are of concern, especially in the unvaccinated.
“It’s the confluence of all of these things, decreasing restrictions, and then a highly transmissible variant with increased disease severity on a platform of an exhausted and overwhelmed health system, that could potentially be a chaotic third wave. for America, ”said Hansoti. .
How can Americans reduce the spread in the United States?
“Get vaccinated and wait two weeks. Be careful and stay home if you experience any kind of illness,” Baktari recommends. He added that tackling the reluctance to vaccinate and achieving collective immunity is key to reducing the spread of the Delta variant and all variants of the coronavirus.
Rather than resorting to an “all or nothing” response, Hansoti said it was time to establish a “new normal” to avoid further flare-ups.
“We need masks in public spaces, limited gathering sizes and increased control in schools and public spaces where people can be symptomatic,” Hansoti said. “Otherwise, after the Delta variant, another variant will come and return. “
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