the Delta variant is the “most hypertransmissible, contagious version of the virus we’ve seen to date, for sure—it’s a superspreader strain if there ever was one..”
In POST 162, May 20th – “ My Take: It is easy to UNMASK but it will be impossible to REMASK!”
for links to POSTS 1-174 in chronological order, highlight and click on
“Throughout the pandemic, masks have ranked among the most contentious public health measures in the United States, symbolizing a bitter partisan divide over the role of government and individual liberties.
Now, with a new variant of the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe, masks are again the focus of conflicting views, and fears, about the course of pandemic and the restrictions required to manage it.
The renewed concerns follow the wildfire growth of the Delta variant, a highly infectious form of the virus first detected in India and later identified in at least 85 countries. It now accounts for one in five infections in the United States.
In May, federal health officials said that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to mask up, even indoors. The advice signified a sea change in American life, setting the stage for a national reopening that continues to gain momentum.
But that was before the spread of the Delta variant. Worried by a global surge in cases, the World Health Organization last week reiterated its longstanding recommendation that everyone — including the inoculated — wear masks to stem the spread of the virus.
On Monday, health officials in Los Angeles County followed suit, recommending that “everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places as a precautionary measure.”
Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said the new recommendation was needed because of upticks in infections, a rise in cases due to the worrisome Delta variant, and persistently high numbers of unvaccinated residents, particularly children, Black and Latino residents and essential workers.
Roughly half of Los Angeles County residents are fully vaccinated, and about 60 percent have had at least one dose. While the number of positive tests is still below 1 percent in the county, the rate has been inching up, Dr. Ferrer added, and there has been a rise in the number of reinfections among residents who were infected before and did not get vaccinated.
To the extent that Los Angeles County has managed to control the pandemic, it has been because of a multilayered strategy that combined vaccinations with health restrictions aimed at curbing new infections, Dr. Ferrer said. Natural immunity among those already infected has also kept transmission low, she noted, but it is not clear how long natural immunity will last.
“We don’t want to return to lockdown or more disruptive mandates here,” Dr. Ferrer said. “We want to stay on the path we’re on right now, which is keeping community transmission really low.”…
“It’s difficult to walk that back,” said David Michaels, an epidemiologist and professor at the George Washington School of Public Health, referring to the C.D.C. advice. Yet with the rise of the Delta variant, it also is “extremely dangerous to continue the cultural norm of no one wearing a mask.” (A)
“The World Health Organization says the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, has spread to at least 85 countries since it was first identified in India last fall.
By mid-June, the Delta variant accounted for 99% of Covid-19 cases in the UK, according to Public Health England, and it is set to account for 90% of cases in Europe by the end of August, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates the variant accounts for 26% of new Covid-19 cases — or at least, that it did as of June 19. It’s been reported in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.
It accounted for 10% of lineages as of June 5, meaning its prevalence more than doubled in just two weeks.
Genetic testing company Helix tells CNN it estimates Delta accounts for 40% of cases in the US at present.
“Every two weeks for the last month or two this has been doubling,” Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of the NYU Langone Vaccine Center, told an International Antiviral Society–USA briefing Tuesday.
“The data from England has shown that it outcompeted the Alpha variant in that population. That is strong head to head evidence that it is a better transmitter,” Andrew Pekosz, a professor of immunology and molecular microbiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNN.
“Here in the US it is doing very similar things. It seems to be on its way to becoming the dominant lineage in the US.”” (I)
“Experts say the Delta variant poses a greater chance of infection for unvaccinated people if they are exposed. The variant, first identified in India, may be twice as transmissible as the conventional coronavirus strains. It has been responsible for the rise in cases recently in India, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
But vaccinated people are well protected against infection and illness from the Delta variant. One recent study found that the full two-dose course of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant and 96% protective against hospitalization.
There is no widespread scientific consensus on whether the Delta variant is more likely to cause more serious illness than other strains…
Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, has confirmed 123 Delta variant cases — 49 of them among residents of Palmdale and Lancaster. Fourteen cases of the Delta variant were in people from a single household.
L.A. County data suggest that vaccines are still overwhelmingly effective in protecting people against the Delta variant, as well as other known variants.
Of those 123 confirmed cases of the Delta variant in the county, 89% occurred among people who were not vaccinated against COVID-19, and 2% among those who were partially vaccinated…
The highly infectious Delta variant is making the task of getting to herd immunity more difficult.
With conventional coronavirus strains, it could take perhaps 71% of the population to be immune for a region to reach herd immunity and interrupt the virus’ transmission, said Dr. George Rutherford, a UC San Francisco epidemiologist. But a variant such as Delta — because it is so transmissible — would increase that threshold to, say, 84%, he said.” (B)
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. has been keeping a close eye on the U.K.
From its initial response to Covid-19 (questioned by many), to its much-praised immunization program and world-class research, all have helped inform how the U.S. — which faced its first major Covid outbreak after Britain — has reacted.
Indeed, the U.K.’s experience of Covid-19 has often been a harbinger of things to come for other countries., including the U.S. It has proved particularly true when it comes to Covid variants which have hit the U.K. and then gone on to dominate globally.
This was first seen with the alpha variant that emerged in southeast England late last year and went on to become dominant across the world. A similar thing then happened with the delta variant that originated in India, but was identified in the U.K. at a relatively early stage.
Both strains have proved to be far more transmissible than the original coronavirus that first emerged in China in late 2019. The World Health Organization now predicts that the delta variant — which has already spread to more than 80 countries — will become the dominant strain of the disease worldwide.
Given the U.K.’s experience of both strains at an earlier stage than many other countries, it is now being seen as something of a “test case” for what could happen in the U.S.
The first thing to note is how quickly the delta variant spread across the U.K.
In a relatively short amount of time, the strain supplanted the alpha variant to become dominant in the country (in mid-June delta was responsible for 90% of all infections, a government study showed) — and this happened despite the U.K.’s advanced vaccination rate.
Meanwhile, cases attributed to the delta strain now make up around 20% of newly diagnosed cases in the U.S. according to White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci warned last week that the delta variant is set to become the dominant Covid strain in the country in a matter of weeks, citing the U.K. as precedent. “It just exploded in the U.K. It went from a minor variant to now more than 90% of the isolates in the U.K.,” Fauci said on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
He said the variant has a doubling time of about two weeks. “So you would expect, just the doubling time, you know, in several weeks to a month or so it’s going to be quite dominant, that’s the sobering news,” he added.
Fauci had already warned that delta appears to be “following the same pattern” as alpha. “Similar to the situation in the U.K., the delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19,” he said.
In the U.K., infections attributed to delta have spread rapidly among young people and anyone older who has not yet been vaccinated. Similarly, in the U.S., there are concerns that delta could rapidly spread in parts of the South where vaccinations have stalled, NBC News reported Sunday.” (C)
“Delta, formerly known as B.1.617.2, is believed to be the most transmissible variant yet, spreading more easily than both the original strain of the virus and the Alpha variant first identified in Britain. Public health officials there have said that Delta could be 50 percent more contagious than Alpha, though precise estimates of its infectiousness vary.
Other evidence suggests that the variant may be able to partially evade the antibodies made by the body after a coronavirus infection or vaccination. And the variant may also render certain monoclonal antibody treatments less effective, the C.D.C. notes.
Delta may also cause more severe illness. A recent Scottish study, for instance, found that people infected by the Delta variant were roughly twice as likely to be hospitalized as those infected with Alpha. But uncertainties remain, scientists said.
“The severe disease piece I think is the one question that really hasn’t been answered yet,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.” (D)
“Children are “more likely to get infected” with the Delta variant when compared to the Alpha variant because it’s more transmissible, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“So it isn’t that they (children) are more susceptible, but this virus is a more transmissible virus,” Dr. Fauci told CBS This Morning. “Therefore, children will more likely get infected with this than they would with the Alpha variant.”…
Concerns are growing because the Delta variant is more transmissible.
New studies, tracked by the World Health Organization, show people who get the Delta variant are more likely to use oxygen, go to intensive care units, even die. And another study shows the Delta variant is 1.23 times more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which makes up more than 6,000 cases in Illinois right now.
“The rate is more than one, which is to say one person is going to spread it to more than one person. It’s going to grow and grow and grow,” said Dr. Allison Bartlett, a pediatrics infectious disease specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital.” (E)
The highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus is on the rise in the U.S., leading the CDC to predict that this concerning strain will soon predominate.
This outlook leads to the question about whether areas of the country with lower vaccination rates could experience worse outcomes. And if so, could the disparity lead to “two Americas”?
“COVID-19 and its variants, including the delta strain, will be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future,” David Hirschwerk, MD, an infectious disease expert at Northwell Health in Manhasset, N.Y., tells Medscape.
“So far, so good,” Hirschwerk adds,speaking to research looking at current vaccine efficacy against different strains of SARS-CoV-2. For the unvaccinated, however, “it is a major concern, because the current variants circulating are far more contagious and can make people much sicker.”
Theo Vos, MD, PhD, a Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle, agrees.
“The delta variant appears to be more infectious than its precursor variants and that means it may take less for explosive spread, particularly among populations with low coverage of vaccination,” he says.
Variants and vaccination rate differences will require vigilance, Hirschwerk says. “Hotspots are likely to occur in areas where vaccine uptake lags,” he warns.” (F)
“Can we expect further variants?
The answer is: almost certainly yes. Already a version of the Delta variant – known as Delta Plus – has raised concern among virologists. It was found in at least 22 cases in the Indian state of Maharashtra last week and could be more transmissible than the original Delta variant. PHE has confirmed 41 of the 75,953 UK Delta cases have been caused by the new mutation.” (G)
“It is the most hypertransmissible, contagious version of the virus we’ve seen to date, for sure—it’s a superspreader strain if there ever was one,” says Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine and an executive vice president at the Scripps Research Institution. The U.S. is poorly prepared, he says. Less than half of the nation’s population is fully vaccinated—and that number is much lower in some states, particularly in the South and Mountain West. “We’ve been warned three times by the U.K.,” Topol says, referring to previous surges in early 2020 and last winter. “This time is the third warning.”..
Vaccination remains the best tool for combatting a Delta surge, according to Topol and others. It is unrealistic to expect that U.S. leaders will reimpose a lockdown or other restrictions, they say, so the focus should instead be on getting more people vaccinated as quickly as possible…
As long as there are large numbers of unvaccinated people around the world, however, variants will continue to appear. A new version of the Delta variant called “Delta Plus” is already circulating. There has been some speculation that Delta Plus may be more resistant to monoclonal antibody treatments, but it is too early to know for sure. In the meantime, experts continue to urge people to simply get vaccinated.” (H)
“As many U.S. states continue to relax COVID-19 protocols, concerns are growing about the more contagious Delta variant. But while the World Health Organization is encouraging people to keep wearing masks even if they’re vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci says it doesn’t look like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently plans to change its guidelines.
“The CDC continually monitors the situation and I’m sure would remain flexible, that if any changes are warranted based on the evolving situation, they would then make a change in their recommendation. But right now, it doesn’t look that way,” Fauci said in an interview Wednesday on CBSN. “It looks like they’re going to continue to stay by their original recommendation.”
Under the CDC recommendations, fully vaccinated people can resume most indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or social distancing…
But Fauci put those comments into perspective. The WHO reports that approximately 10% of the world population is fully vaccinated. In comparison, over 46% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC…
He said the U.S. is, for the most part, a “well-vaccinated country” within an “under-vaccinated” world. But he also said he’s “quite concerned” about the risk to those who haven’t gotten their shots.” (J)
POST 170. June 17, 2021. CORONAVIRUS. “Dr. Ashish Jha…is worried about the potential impact the delta variant could have in the United States… “I’m concerned about the Delta variant,”… “Why? Most contagious variant yet. Wreaked havoc in India. Spiking cases in UK. Growing rapidly in the US.”
- A.Masks Again? Delta Variant’s Spread Prompts Reconsideration of Precautions., By Roni Caryn Rabin, Apoorva Mandavilli and Shawn Hubler, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/29/health/coronavirus-delta-variant-masks.html?referringSource=articleShare
- B.Highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant spreading fast in California, By RONG-GONG LIN II, LUKE MONEY, ALEX WIGGLESWORTH, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-06-27/highly-contagious-delta-coronavirus-variant-spreading-in-california
- C.The Covid delta variant has ‘exploded’ in the UK — and it could be a blueprint for the U.S., by Holly Ellyatt, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/28/how-the-uk-with-the-delta-variant-is-a-blueprint-for-the-us.html
- D.The Delta Variant: What Scientists Know, by Emily Anthes, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/22/health/delta-variant-covid.html?referringSource=articleShare
- E.Dr. Fauci says children ‘more likely’ to get COVID Delta variant, By Stacey Baca, https://abc7chicago.com/chicago-covid-delta-variant-children-coronavirus-illinois/10824862/
- F.Varied COVID Vaccination Rates May Lead to ‘Two Americas’, by Damian McNamara, https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/953658#vp_1
- G.Will vaccines protect us against the Delta variant?, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/27/will-vaccines-protect-us-against-the-delta-variant
- H.How Dangerous Is the Delta Variant, and Will It Cause a COVID Surge in the U.S.?, By Tanya Lewis, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-dangerous-is-the-delta-variant-and-will-it-cause-a-covid-surge-in-the-u-s/
- I.Here’s what is known about the Delta variant of coronavirus, By Maggie Fox, https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/30/health/delta-variant-covid-what-known/index.html
- J.Fauci says it doesn’t seem the CDC will change mask recommendations despite growing concern about Delta variant, BY TORI B. POWELL, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-cdc-mask-delta-variant/