8 Things You Should Know About The Delta Variant
The Delta variant. The deadliest, fastest-spreading variant of the COVID-19 virus that took over the entire world in early 2020. It is a mutated strain of SARS-CoV-2 (commonly known as the Coronavirus). It is highly contagious, and in some cases, affects even those who are fully vaccinated. It now makes up 83% of all sequenced samples in the US.
Given that it is currently spreading rapidly across the globe, here are a few important things to remember about this variant as we deal with a new looming threat just when the situation seemed to get better.
1. What Is The Delta Variant?
The Delta variant is a mutated strain of SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. Officially, it is also known as version B.1.617.2. It was first discovered in India in December 2020, and the first case in the USA was detected in March 2021.
2. Does The Delta Variant Spread Faster?
Yes! It spreads 50% faster and is 50% more contagious than the Alpha variant, which was the first mutated strain that was discovered. According to Dr. Perry Wilson, an epidemiologist from Yale Medicine, the Delta variant will certainly accelerate the pandemic’s spread. “In a completely unmitigated environment—where no one is vaccinated or wearing masks—it’s estimated that the average person infected with the original coronavirus strain will infect 2.5 other people. In the same environment, Delta would spread from one person to maybe 3.5 or 4 other people.” Dr. Wilson says.
3. Will The Vaccine Prevent Me From Being Affected With The Delta Variant?
To a large extent, yes. Cases that occur in those who are fully vaccinated are called Breakthrough cases. Out of all the reported cases in the US, only 0.04% of them are breakthrough, as of 22nd July 2021. In the event of a breakthrough case, vaccines are 64% effective in protecting you from infections and 93% effective in preventing severe side effects and/or hospitalization.
4. Will I Need To Mask Up?
Yes, it is advisable to mask up even if you’re fully vaccinated according to the new mask mandate by the CDC, which recommends masks even in indoor settings, especially in areas with high rates of transmission such as restaurants, hospitals, public restrooms, etc.
5. Does The Delta Variant Affect Unvaccinated People More?
Yes. Recent data from the CDC shows that 99.5% of all US deaths caused by the delta variant are among the unvaccinated. Kids and young people for whom the vaccine hasn’t been approved yet are also at a higher risk of being infected with the Delta variant, with the risk of infection being 2.5 times more likely than a vaccinated adult, according to a recent study from the United Kingdom.
6. Are There More Variants That Are As Deadly As The Delta Variant?
Currently, in the US, the Delta variant is the fastest spreading mutation of COVID-19; however, other variants are showing up in different parts of the world that will eventually make their way here, or a mutation could occur right here and spread across the country.
7. How Can I Protect Myself From The Delta Variant?
The usual drill — wear a mask, avoid crowded places, sanitize regularly when in public, limit yourself to smaller gatherings, and of course, if you haven’t already, get vaccinated. Though it seems like the world is slowly coming back to normal, the pandemic is still very much there, and with fast-spreading variants such as Delta, it is always better to take every precaution possible.
8. Sources and Additional Material:
Surabhi Paraki is a Journalism and Communications student at Jain University. She is also an activist and a content writer at the International Youths Organization for Peace and Sustainability.
Inputs and Edits by Sovena Ngeth.