The delta Coronavirus variant, first detected in India, has now spread to more than 80 countries and it continues to mutate as it spreads across the globe, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said Wednesday.
According to CNN, Andy Slavitt, the former White House senior adviser for Covid-19 response, described the Delta strain like this: “It is a more virulent strain,” Slavitt told CNN. “This is like Covid on steroids. You can be around people for less time and still get exposed.”
The variant now makes up more than 10 percent of new cases in the U.S., up from 6.0 percent last week. Studies have shown the variant is also more transmissible than other strains, and some reports are suggesting that it is causing more severe symptoms, according to WHO.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN on Tuesday there is data that indicates it (the Delta variant) might 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 has become the dominant variant in the UK, where over 90 percent of cases are the Delta variant,” Murthy said.
Perhaps more worrisome is the news that the WHO is also tracking recent reports of a “delta plus” variant, reports CNBC News.
“What I think this means is that there is an additional mutation that has been identified,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead. “In some of the delta variants we’ve seen one less mutation or one deletion instead of an additional, so we’re looking at all of it.”
There is good news to report on the vaccination effort in the U.S. As of Wednesday, 44.1 percent of the total U.S. population was fully vaccinated while 52.7 percent has received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the CDC.
Thirteen states — with the addition of Hawaii on Wednesday — have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents, the CDC says.
And for a third feather in our cap, 14 states have reached President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults with at least one dose by July 4, according to CDC data.