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Cases of dangerous COVID-19 variant are 'rapidly increasing' in US, expert says

June 16, 2021
The Delta variant, first reported in India, currently accounts for nearly 10 percent of coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the CDC. — Courtesy file photo
The Delta variant, first reported in India, currently accounts for nearly 10 percent of coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the CDC. — Courtesy file photo

WASHINGTON — As US states lift more coronavirus restrictions, experts are worried people who aren't fully vaccinated could contribute to the further spread of the virus.

The Delta variant, first reported in India, currently accounts for nearly 10 percent of coronavirus cases in the United States, according to the CDC.

With concerns it could become the dominant strain soon, medical experts are underscoring the importance of full vaccination.

"I'm worried about those who are unvaccinated," US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Tuesday, noting the Delta variant "is rapidly increasing here in the United States."

The CDC has determined the Delta variant is a "variant of concern," a designation given to strains of the virus that scientists believe are more transmissible or can cause more severe disease.

The Delta variant "appears to be significantly more transmissible than even the Alpha variant or the UK variant, which is now dominant in the United States," Murthy said.

"The second reason it's concerning is that there is some data to indicate that it may in fact also be more dangerous, may cause more severe illness. That still needs to be understood more clearly, but these are two important concerns and they explain in part ... why this becomes the dominant variant in the United Kingdom, where over 90 percent of cases are the Delta variant," Murthy said.

The good news is that vaccines appear to be effective against the Delta variant.

A new study by Public Health England found that two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are "highly effective against hospitalization" caused by the Delta variant. The study found the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 96 percent effective against hospitalization after two doses.

Murthy said there isn't enough data to indicate the effectiveness of Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine in regards to the Delta variant, but the vaccine has shown it can help prevent hospitalizations and deaths when people are infected with other strains.

"The key is get vaccinated, get both doses," Murthy said.

As of Tuesday, 43.9 percent of the total US population was fully vaccinated while 52.6 percent has received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the CDC.

This comes on the heels of the US surpassing 600,000 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That means about one in every 550 people in the US has died from the virus. — CNN


June 16, 2021
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