Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, was first identified in India in December 2020. Within a matter of months, the Delta variant spread to over 98 countries around the world, now the dominant variant in more than a dozen countries, including India, Scotland, the U.K., Israel and the United States.
What is clear is that the majority of hospitalizations and COVID-19-associated deaths in the U.S. are occurring within unvaccinated populations, leading to a chilling warning from CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky that “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
The economies in Europe and the US that successfully weakened the virus between infections and deaths have started to reopen, poorer countries with low vaccination rates are in some cases entering their worst phase of the pandemic. The world thinks the pandemic is over…it’s just started up again, this time it’s with another variant.
Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, made a dire prediction that, if we weren’t already living within the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, would sound more like a pitch for a movie about a dystopian future. “For the amount of virus circulating in this country right now largely among unvaccinated people, the largest concern that we in public health and science are worried about is that the virus…[becomes] a very transmissible virus that has the potential to evade our vaccines in terms of how it protects us from severe disease and death.” So far, the vaccines work, but for that to continue work, we need more vaccinated people in the population.
While 48 percent of “not fully/not vaccinated” respondents in the poll said they were concerned about the Delta variant, 72 percent of fully vaccinated Americans are worried. Among the unvaccinated polled by CBS, 53 percent said they don’t want a shot because they are worried about the side effects. Fifty percent cited not trusting the government as one of their reasons, and 45 percent said they don’t trust the science.
The UK government has announced virtually all COVID restrictions will be removed in England. This will do away with social distancing requirements, allow businesses to re-open to full capacity and remove legal mask mandates. This decision comes, however, amidst soaring infections rates in the country, driven by the Delta variant.
Now scientists are questioning the wisdom of this policy and asking whether the combination of high transmission and a partially vaccinated population could provide the perfect breeding ground for vaccine-resistant variants – a possibility that could have devastating global consequences. Have a listen.
Dr Larry Brilliant, CEO of Pandefense Advisors and epidemiologist says the mRNA vaccines have been effective in keeping us safe and out of the hospital, but the Covid-19 delta variant depresses its efficacy in keeping us from getting the disease and transmitting it.
Covid-19’s Delta variant is proliferating worldwide threatening unvaccinated populations and economic recovery. WSJ breaks down events in key countries to explain why Delta spreads faster than previously detected strains.