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Ask Dr. Nandi: Cases of a dangerous COVID -19 variant are 'rapidly increasing' in US, expert says

Posted at 2:57 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 17:49:44-04

(WXYZ) — The dangerous new Delta COVID-19 variant is spreading rapidly. Experts are concerned that outbreaks could happen amongst unvaccinated people and lead to more spread across the country.

According to the CDC, the Delta variant that was first identified in India now makes ups 10% of new cases and it’s doubling every 7 to 10 days.

Experts predict that in about three weeks' time, the Delta variant will become the dominant strain here in the US - overtaking the Alpha variant just like it did in the United Kingdom.

Now the good news is that our vaccines protect us against this variant and the other variants. But you need to be fully vaccinated. And here’s a good reason why. A new England study found that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are 96% effective against hospitalization due to the Delta variant. So it’s imperative that people get the shots and get them soon. It’s the best way to rein in the spread of this significantly more transmissible variant.

There is new data that indicates the Delta variant is not just more transmissible, but that it could cause more disease. It was a two-month period study in Scotland. Over 19,500 COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were analyzed.

What the researchers found, was that the Delta variant had nearly double the risk of hospitalization when compared with the Alpha variant. It’s this type of evidence that’s behind why the CDC designated the Delta variant as a "variant of concern". This is only given to strains that are shown to spread faster or cause more severe disease.

Now, I was looking at our vaccination rates and see that our pace is still moving slowly. Right now, only 43.9% of the US population is fully vaccinated. And 52.6% have received at least one dose of a vaccine. So we still have a ways to go.

Now, I’ve heard plenty of folks talking, even my patients are saying they feel safer now that our case numbers are lower. But, let’s be realistic. The virus is still here. And so is the risk, especially in the areas that have low vaccination rates. That’s where we will likely see future outbreaks.

So once again I want to emphasize, please get fully vaccinated. We want to leave as little room as possible for the variant to spread, which will keep our case numbers down and it’ll also help keep our communities safer.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

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