US faces resurgence of COVID-19 infections due to Delta variant

Washington: Despite a steady COVID-19 vaccination pace, the United States faces a resurgence of infections due to the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, experts said.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant currently accounts for nearly 10 per cent of coronavirus cases in the US. With concerns it could become the dominant strain soon, medical experts are underscoring the importance of full vaccination, reported CNN.

Noting that the Delta variant is “rapidly increasing” in the US, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said: “I’m worried about those who are unvaccinated.”

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Murthy further said that the Delta variant “appears to be significantly more transmissible” than even the Alpha variant, first identified in the UK that is currently the most dominant strain in America.

“The second reason it’s concerning is that there is some data to indicate that it may in fact also be more dangerous, may cause more severe illness. That still needs to be understood more clearly, but these are two important concerns and they explain in part … why this is become the dominant variant in the U.K., where over 90 per cent of cases are the Delta variant,” Murthy told CNN

Meanwhile, a new study by Public Health England found that two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are “highly effective against hospitalisation” caused by the Delta variant. It also found that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 96 per cent effective against hospitalisation after two doses.

Murthy said there isn’t enough data to indicate the effectiveness of Johnson and Johnson’s one-dose vaccine in regards to the Delta variant but the vaccine has shown it can help prevent hospitalisations and deaths in cases of other strains.

This comes on the heels of the US surpassing 600,000 deaths since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday, 43.9 per cent of the total US population was fully vaccinated while 52.6 per cent has received at least one dose of a vaccine, CNN reported citing the CDC.

Earlier, the US CDC called the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, also known as B.1.617.2, a “variant of concern”.

According to the agency, there is ‘mounting evidence’ that the Delta variant, which was first reported in India, shows increased 

transmissibility, potential reduction in neutralisation by some monoclonal antibody treatments under emergency authorisation and potential reduction in neutralisation from sera after vaccination in lab tests.

The variant of concern designation is given to strains of the virus that scientists believe are more transmissible or can cause more severe disease. Vaccines, treatments and tests that detect the virus may also be less effective against a variant of concern.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the Delta variant as a variant of concern on May 10. A study on the Delta variant in Scotland published on Monday found that it was associated with about double the risk of hospitalisation compared with the Alpha variant, B.1.1.7, that was first identified in the UK.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden on Monday (local time) urged Americans who have not yet gotten vaccinated against the coronavirus to do so as soon as possible, as America crossed the milestone of 60 lakh coronavirus deaths. 

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