We’re in a really weird place when it comes to the pandemic. With vaccines widely available, people in America are slowly but surely getting back to gathering, going out, and generally trying to establish a new normal.
While it may feel like we’re at the end of the pandemic, the virus is still spreading, and some parts of the U.S. are still experiencing spikes in COVID infections as new strains take hold. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Friday she’s concerned the delta variant may become the dominant strain in America.
According to ABC News, the delta variant was first detected in India last October and has been detected in 80 countries since. The strain has already been located in 41 states, and when asked by Good Morning America if she believed it will become the predominant strain in America, Walensky replied “I think that that’s probably going to be the case.”
The CDC has listed the delta strain as a “variant of concern” as it appears to be more contagious and more deadly than prior strains. “When these viruses mutate, they do so with some advantage to the virus. In this case, it is more transmissible,” Walensky said in the interview. “It’s more transmissible than the alpha variant, or the U.K. variant, that we have here. We saw that quickly become the dominant strain in a period of one or two months, and I anticipate that is going to be what happens with the delta strain here.”
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, told ABC News that the delta variant “is far more contagious than any variant we have seen throughout this entire pandemic.”
As of now, the current vaccines appear to be effective against the variant, though there are concerns that should it begin to spread throughout the country, it may mutate to a point that would render them less effective. The only way to prevent that from happening is for everyone who is able to get vaccinated to do so.
“I will say, as worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper-transmissibility, our vaccines work. Right now, they are working and they require [only] two doses or to be fully vaccinated to work. So I would encourage all Americans to get your first shot and when you’re [due] for your second, get your second shot and you’ll be protected against this delta variant,” Walensky added in the interview.
So far, over 175 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 147 million people, or 44.5 percent of the population, having been fully vaccinated. If you haven’t received your vaccine for any reason, this nifty website will help you locate where you can get one in your area.