The Delta variant of Covid-19 is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States, and it’s further reason why people need to ramp up the vaccination pace, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday.
The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, is more transmissible than others and its already dominant in the UK.
“As worrisome as this Delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work,” Walensky said. “Right now, they are working and they require actually two doses to be fully vaccinated, to work well. So I would encourage all Americans, 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.”
Experts have cautioned that the continued spread of the virus could lead to more numerous and potentially more transmissible and dangerous variants.
The US has already seen surges of the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta variants, while the spread of the Gamma variant is growing in several states.
In order to attain herd immunity, or the point at which the virus cannot easily spread within the community, experts have offered estimates of it requiring the inoculation through infection or vaccination of between 70 to 85% of the population.
According to the CDC, only 53% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. And only 65% of adults have received at least one dose.
“You would have thought at the beginning of this, knowing that vaccines are our only way our of the pandemic, the hardest part would have been figuring out how to construct these vaccines,” Dr. Paul Offit said, a key member of the FDA Vaccines Advisory Committee.
Earlier this week the CDC elevated the Delta variant to a variant of concern this week. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that “the combination of more transmissibility and greater severity of disease, appropriately, prompted the CDC to elevate it to a variant of concern.”
While the protection offered by vaccines remains strong, scientists still can’t say for sure say how long the protection will last. The data available is of just six months and vaccines are so new.