Another variant of the coronavirus, this time discovered in India, has made its way to the United States, drawing the attention of public health officials even as COVID-19 vaccinations continue to reduce new cases and deaths in the country.
B.1.617.2, now known as “Delta,” has been reported in around 60 countries, according to senior White House medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci, and currently accounts for over 6% of coronavirus cases sequenced in the United States
Emerging evidence from other countries, particularly the UK where it is rapidly becoming the dominant variant, shows that Delta is more contagious, increases disease severity as well as hospitalization risks and is associated with a “modest decrease »Of antibody activity in previously infected and vaccinated people compared to the Alpha variant, formerly known as B.1.1.7, which first appeared in the UK
And it ‘peaks’ in people aged 12 to 20 in UK, Fauci said during COVID-19 at the White House Report Tuesday.
“We cannot let this happen in the United States,” he added.
Scientists are concerned because a study by Public Health England found that three weeks after a dose, the coronavirus vaccines AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech were only 33% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant against about 50% against the Alpha variant. .
On the other hand, two weeks after the second dose, which is recommended for complete protection, the Pfizer vaccine was 88% and 93% effective against Delta and Alpha, respectively; AstraZeneca’s shot, which was not cleared for emergency use in the United States, was 60% and 66% effective against Delta and Alpha, respectively.
“Get vaccinated, especially if you got your first dose, make sure you get that second dose,” Fauci said. “And for those who have not yet been vaccinated, please get vaccinated. It is the national month of action. We want to meet and exceed the goal of 70% of the adult population receiving at least one dose by July 4th. “
Nearly 141 million Americans were fully vaccinated as of June 9, or about 42% of the total population and 53% of adults, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker.
“The question is: are there enough unvaccinated people who [the Delta variant] could enter the population and start to spread more widely? I just happen to think it’s unlikely to be a threat until the fall, maybe, ”former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Wednesday.
“It seems like a more dangerous variant. That said, two doses of the vaccine appear to be very protective, “said Gottlieb, who warned that Delta variant outbreaks can occur” if you have a community where there are a lot of unvaccinated people and you have an event. super-spread.
Others are more worried.
“Given this level of transmissibility, I would expect it to actually spread around the world,” said Sharon Peacock, chair of the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium and professor of public health and microbiology at the University of Cambridge, Wall Street. The Journal’s Tech Health event Wednesday.
“We are seeing a major change in the cause of infection in the UK, and that change has happened relatively quickly over a period of a few weeks,” Peacock added, “and it doesn’t look like it’s really going stop. “
President Joe Biden also took to Twitter to spread the word.
“Folks, the Delta variant – a highly infectious COVID-19 strain – is spreading rapidly among young people between the ages of 12 and 20 in the UK,” Biden wrote. “If you’re young and haven’t gotten your chance yet, it is really time. It’s the best way to protect yourself and those you love.