Fast-spreading Delta variant accounts for 1 in 5 current COVID-19 cases in U.S.

Posted at 5:53 AM, Jun 24, 2021

DETROIT, MI (WXYZ) — As Michigan re-opens and more people ditch their masks, health experts are urging those still unvaccinated—to roll up their sleeve. That's because the Delta variant, believed to be more contagious and leading to more extreme cases of COVID-19, continues to spread.

The director of infectious disease at Beaumont Health said Delta is a huge concern when you talk about the potential of yet another wave. And given how quickly it's spreading, he said it's on the track to eclipse the UK or the Alpha variant here in the U.S..

“Delta, about a month ago, was five percent of the cases," director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health Matthew Sims said. "[It's been] 30 percent of the cases in less than two weeks.”

The fast-growing Delta variant now equates for an estimated fifth of COVID cases in the United States, prompting health officials at the national level to, again, focus on undervaccinated areas where the delta is likely to grow faster.

"It will be the dominant strain among those areas, those regions of the country where the vaccination rate is lower than we would like," director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Sims said the Delta variant looks to be about 60 percent more contagious than the Alpha or UK variant.

“It does seem to reduce vaccine efficacy somewhat for the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna. It seems to drop it from the low to mid-90s down to the low 80s,” he said. "But it still does seem to protect people from getting very very sick from it.”

More companies are now requiring shots. A source told CNN that as of next month, employees and guests entering Morgan Stanley's New York offices must be vaccinated. This comes as the FDA is expected to add a new warning to both Pfizer and Moderna after new cases of heart inflammation were reported in teens.

But as the Delta variant continues to grab hold of the country, and those under 12 remain ineligible for the vaccine, Dr. Fauci stays on the vaccine message saying the benefits outweigh the risks.

"The best way to protect the children is to bring the level of virus circulation in the community down. The best way to do that is that those, i.e. adults who are eligible for vaccination nation, to get vaccinated," Fauci said.

Fauci said the Delta variant seems to have doubled every two weeks. Sims says case numbers in Michigan have been very low but, he too, especially in the light of the growing Delta variant, is urging people to get their shots.