As the highly transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant has spread to 74 countries in just six months since its discovery, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is warning Americans that the strain will become the “predominant variant in the months ahead” in the United States.
The Delta variant is believed to be 43 to 90 percent more transmissible than the previous Covid-19 strains and is now the dominant strain both in India and in the United Kingdom.
When asked on CNN this week why the Delta variant is responsible for 99 percent of the new cases in the U.K. and if she sees that happening in the U.S., Walensky compared the strain to one that hit the U.S. previously.
“So this is exactly what happens here with the B.1.1.7 or U.K. variant,” Walensky said. “Turns out when these viruses mutate and these variants take hold, they generally do so because it has some advantage to the virus.”
Walensky continued, “When it has that advantage that is more transmissible, you see exactly what you’re seeing now. So, the U.K. variant was more transmissible. That is now nearly 70 percent of the virus here. We know that the Delta variant is even more transmissible than the U.K. variant, and I anticipate that will be the predominant variant in the months ahead.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she anticipates the Delta variant first identified in India will be “the predominant variant in the months ahead” in the US. https://t.co/z84AwuIaxD pic.twitter.com/hVVhQnPnNC
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) June 18, 2021
On Friday, President Biden addressed the issue and cautioned Americans who are not fully vaccinated that they will be especially vulnerable to the Delta variant.
“People getting seriously ill and being hospitalized due to Covid-19 are those who have not been fully vaccinated,” Biden said. “[The Delta variant] is a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially deadlier, and particularly dangerous for young people.”
Walensky said those who are fully vaccinated, having received both shots of either Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine, are protected from the Delta variant. But results from studies that are underway are needed to know whether or not the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is effective against the strain.
“The first thing to know is the vaccines that we have now, the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines, we do know that after two doses… you are protected from the Delta variant,” the director said. “And studies are underway now to examine the Johnson & Johnson [vaccine]. We just don’t have as much data with that vaccine.”