As we know from the many strains of flu, viruses mutate. But, unlike bacteria, they do not live long outside the host body, so they work hard to get into a host and thrive because they are microscopic parasites. Unfortunately, often as they thrive, they make their host sick. This is what COVID-19 is doing, and the latest variants, Delta and Delta Plus are what have been overwhelming India’s medical system. And they are the next threat to health in the United States, especially among the unvaccinated.
What makes these strains so dangerous, is that they are 40% to 60% percent, some say as much as 100%, more virulent than the Alpha strain according to CNN, which was the first strain to hit the United States. Their spike protein mutation allows them to replicate faster and to better infiltrate the lung cells to which they love to attach. According to the latest research in India, that is exactly what has been happening there. One COVID-19 mutation may eventually find a way to reduce the effectiveness of countermeasures, but currently both the Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca vaccinations are keeping people out of the hospital, according to Wed-MD.
Delta also doesn’t have the same symptoms as Alpha. There is little coughing, and no loss of smell. This variant comes on like a bad cold, bringing a fever, runny nose, headache and a sore throat. Because it feels like a cold, the World Health Organization (WHO) fears that people will not realize they have COVID-19 and will not quarantine. According to CNBC, WHO is asking that even those who have been vaccinated wear a mask when inside, continue to use social distancing, and wash their hands frequently. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently reviewing their stand on masks and other restrictions in light of the Delta strains.
The Delta strain is already in the United States. According to WebMD, in the United Kingdom, where it is the main variant, COVID-19 is now hitting younger people and those under 50 years of age 2.5 times harder than Alpha. It is coming on fast and hitting hard. Both Missouri and Florida have recently had severe infection rates of Delta variant in counties with vaccination rates lower than 30%, according to ABC news and the Washington Post, respectively.
While the United States was vaccinating more than 2 million people per day at the beginning of the year, the rate has fallen to 200,000 per day, with a total vaccination rate of 53.1% counting those having both one and two doses. Herd immunity requires at least 75% of the population vaccinated to knock back the virus and lower the rate of infection.
Delta Plus COVID-19 variant is of high concern, according to the CDC. It was first documented in India in February 2021. It is responsible for the huge outbreak in India that began in April and at the peak almost 4,000 people were dying per day. People who were not vaccinated, because the vaccination rate in India is currently 3.8% for those fully vaccinated, and another 14% have had their first shot according to ourworlwidedata.com, which provides up to date information on vaccination rates by country and around the world.
According to CNN, “Delta Plus has been reported in 11 countries — but the number of cases per country only reflects samples that have been sequenced, and more data is needed to determine the actual rate of spread. The US has sequenced and confirmed the highest number of cases so far, with 83 cases as of June 16, according to Public Health England.”
Current vaccines are 100% effective against severe disease and death from all current strains of COVID-19, but 140 million Americans have yet to be vaccinated. Vaccine is free. Complacency as the country opens back up is, according to experts, the number one factor that will allow the virus to keep having an opportunity to find hosts to keep it alive, spreading and mutating.