Everything You Need to Know About the Rapidly Spreading Delta Variant
By Sophia Mao
If you’ve read the news or at least skimmed through headlines recently, you’ve likely come across articles involving the highly contagious delta variant. This variant of covid-19 has already caused cases to skyrocket globally, especially in the U.S.
What exactly is the delta variant? Originally detected in India last year, it’s already becoming the most dominant coronavirus variant. There are several lineages of this variant, each slightly different from one another.
The worst part about the variant is how “fit” it is; health experts say that, “it attacks that host better than the other variants, because it can replicate itself better.” It’s also the most transmissible variant so far. Previous research shows that the delta variant is 50% more contagious than the alpha variant.
Another question associated with the delta variant is: how effective is the vaccine against it? Fortunately, collected data shows that all three vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have been highly successful in preventing severe symptoms and deaths. In terms of preventing hospitalization, taking the second shot seems to be slightly more effective, according to another PHE paper.
Luckily, the delta variant doesn’t seem like that much of a threat to the U.S. because of the high vaccination rates. More than 150 million Americans are fully vaccinated. However, for places where vaccinations aren’t being distributed fast enough, there will be a surge in cases.
Japan, for example, announced recently that it's currently in a state of emergency because the government administered the vaccinations poorly. Africa is also having trouble with the virus, but only because shipments have been slow.
Not much has been researched about the differences of the symptoms between the different variants, but some people have reported to have symptoms of the common cold without the usual signs of covid (loss of taste and smell).
Although the CDC doesn’t recommend masking for vaccinated people anymore, the World Health Organization still encourages people to wear masks. Especially in places with low vaccination rates and a high population. The vaccine does prevent major risks, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.