What We Should Know About COVID-19 Delta Variant

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has caused global headlines over the past weeks.

Having initially been detected in India and the UK, the variant is now spreading rapidly throughout the United States. Even if you have already been vaccinated, this is a concern.

Why Do Viruses Mutate?

Changes or mutations are a normal part of the behavior of any virus. Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, is no exception. As a virus moves from one person to another, it copies itself. Every time a copy is made, there is a chance of small changes happening to the virus.

Mutations are a necessary part of the evolution of any species, including humans. They allow us to better adapt to our environment. Mutations help other creatures thrive, too. Consider well-camouflaged insects, for example. They often mimic the color of their environment to avoid easy detection by birds and other predators.

Viruses mutate for the same reasons. They aim to spread faster and further. From the virus’s perspective, a successful mutation would allow it to move more easily between humans. It may also enable the virus to avoid our immune system’s defenses.

Because the coronavirus is already circulating widely and causing numerous infections, it has plenty of opportunities to change. As it spreads, the virus replicates. With every replication, the chances of alterations grow.

What Is the Delta Variant of COVID-19?

The Delta variant is not the first mutation of the virus causing COVID-19. Scientists believe that there have been thousands of mutations since the virus was first found. Most of these turn out to be unsuccessful. They may even make it harder for the virus to replicate.

However, from time-to-time mutations make a virus ‘stronger’. This is what happened in the case of the Delta variant. British scientists found it to be roughly 50 percent more transmissible than previous strains of the virus. It also leads to more hospitalizations and more serious disease.

What Are the Implications for the United States?

Over the past few months, the United States has done well to contain the spread of COVID-19 cases. With just over 45 percent of the population fully vaccinated, the number of transmissions and new cases had been dropping.

Because of the Delta variant’s increased capability to transmit, experts are expecting it to become the dominant strain within weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that the Delta variant is now responsible for two in five new infections. This number doubled is twice as high as it was at the beginning of June. In some states, the variant already accounts for nearly 50 percent of new Covid-19 infections.

According to the Wall Street Journal, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci believes that “the Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19.”

At the same time, vaccination rates across the country have slowed down over the past few weeks. This means the United States remains short of its target of vaccinating 70 percent of the population by July 4. This means the country has not yet achieved so-called herd immunity, which would make transmission less likely. Moreover, scientists believe that unvaccinated people are at a higher risk of infection from the Delta variant.

Can Vaccination Protect You?

Vaccination with one of the approved vaccines will help protect you. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines remain the most critical tool in the global fight against COVID-19. The logic behind this is simple: vaccination minimizes the spread of the disease. As the virus spreads more slowly, there are fewer opportunities for mutations to occur.

There is some evidence that the existing vaccines’ efficiency against this variant is somewhat lower than its protection against previous variants. However, the difference is often only a few percentage points. This means the existing vaccines remain highly effective.

The Delta variant appears to be spreading most quickly in countries with lower vaccination rates. This means the United States has an opportunity to slow the spread of this COVID-19 variant if vaccination rates can remain high or be increased over the next few weeks.

With vaccine supply outstripping demand, vaccinations have never been more accessible. In many cases, offering logistical support makes it easier for those eligible to be vaccinated. Scheduling appointments out of working hours is one option. Setting up dedicated vaccination events is another.

The Delta variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus is likely to become the leading cause of COVID-19 infections throughout the United States over the next few weeks. As the variant has been proven to be more transmissible and cause more severe disease, it is important to increase vaccination rates.

TrueCare™ has created a dedicated service for employers and other organizations to help protect their workforce and their community. The Health & Wellness model includes testing, vaccination clinics, and monitors general employee wellness. The model can be scaled to suit large and small operators, and its flexible plans will help relieve the strain on your organization.

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