A coronavirus variant known as the delta variant, with origins that have been traced to India, is spreading fast in the U.S. and could put the brakes on the Americans’ planned escape route out of the pandemic.
The delta variant has been described as “covid on steroids” by Andy Slavitt, former White House senior adviser for covid-19 response, since it was found to be a fast-spreading version of the virus first detected in India last year.
“It is a more virulent strain,” Slavitt told CNN. “This is like Covid on steroids. You can be around people for less time and still get exposed.”
The Delta variant has been tagged a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as scientists at the institution believe it is more transmissible or can cause more severe disease.
CDC estimates that about 10 percent of new U.S. Covid-19 cases , up from 6 percent last week, are that of the delta variant. In addition to Delta, the CDC has noted five other variants of concern.
Federal health officials are pushing for more Americans to get vaccinated as the delta variant increases its share of new cases in the U.S.
It is not just in the U.S. that the delta variant is stopping exit plans from the pandemic.
The variant has now spread to more than 80 countries across the world, according to the World Health Organization, and keeps mutating making it even infectious and difficult to develop a vaccine against.
“Although the Delta variant is especially dangerous, being fully vaccinated—particularly with mRNA vaccines—provides strong protection against it and other variants,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former director at CDC, tweeted.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week that a long-planned final lifting of all coronavirus restrictions in England on June 21 would be delayed by four to five weeks because of the fast-spreading variant.
About 90 percent of the new cases in Britain are associated with the delta variant, according to The Washington Post.
“(Based on) the data out of the U.K. showing how quickly the Delta variant became the dominant variant, there is strong evidence that it is more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which we already thought was more transmissible than the original lineages,” said Andrew Pekosz, a professor in Johns Hopkins University’s molecular microbiology and immunology department.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the President Joe Biden, said last week, “We cannot let that happen in the United States,” as he pushed to get more people vaccinated, especially young adults.
Fauci said he was “not concerned about the people who are vaccinated”.
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