The highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant continues its rapid spread across the globe, with poor, mostly unvaccinated countries bearing the brunt of its impact. Namibia is recording a world record of 28 COVID-19 deaths per 1 million people as infections soar across many African nations.
What is the Delta Variant?
Normally the variants of viruses originally were named for their place of origin and letters and numbers, but the World Health Organization now names them with Greek letters. The Delta variant was originally called B.1.617.2 and was first identified in India in late 2020 and is spreading rapidly throughout the world. Delta has become the dominant strain in some countries, such as the UK, and likely to become so in others, like the US.
Is the Delta variant transmissible?
Some viral variants can grow better in human cells and make greater quantities of the virus. The higher levels of the virus can increase the efficiency of transmitting to other people. The Delta variant is about 50% to 60% more transmissible than the original virus.
The variant of concern!
Recently, the delta variant was re-classified as a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “based on mounting evidence that the delta variant spreads more easily and causes more severe cases when compared to other variants, including B.1.1.7 (Alpha),” it said in a statement. It’s hoped that Covid-19 vaccination programs can stop the wild spread of the delta variant, and so the race is on to protect younger people who might not be fully vaccinated.
Do the vaccines offer protection against the Delta variant?
Full vaccination with the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) protect well against the Delta variant and the other common variants. A recent study found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine were 88% effective at protecting against symptomatic disease caused by Delta.) The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has not yet been tested but likely also offers protection.
Precaution to stop the Delta variant from spreading
Vaccines are the best tool we have to end the COVID-19 pandemic. People who can’t get vaccinated or don’t respond to vaccinations should continue to wear a mask, wash their hands frequently, and maintaining social distance. The World Health Organization recently recommended that vaccinated people should continue to wear masks indoors. This is a reaction to the increasing spread of the Delta variant throughout the world. And after declining for weeks, US COVID-19 cases are increasing again, mostly in western and southern states with low vaccination rates.