CDC now calls coronavirus Delta variant a 'variant of concern'

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now calls the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, also known as B.1.617.2, a "variant of concern."...

Posted: Jun 15, 2021 4:34 PM
Updated: Jun 15, 2021 7:00 PM

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now calls the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, also known as B.1.617.2, a 'variant of concern.'

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. Previously, the CDC had considered the Delta variant to be a variant of interest.

The CDC said the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, shows increased transmissibility, potential reduction in neutralization by some monoclonal antibody treatments under emergency authorization and potential reduction in neutralization from sera after vaccination in lab tests.

The World Health Organization classified the Delta variant as a variant of concern on May 10.

Covid-19 cases have been declining over the past few months in the United States, but there's concern that could change as the pace of vaccinations slows and the Delta variant spreads. The CDC estimates it accounted for 9.9% of cases in the US as of June 5.

At a White House Covid-19 briefing last week, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci encouraged everyone to get vaccinated against Covid-19, noting that the Delta variant is was in circulation in the United States at a rate similar to the tipping point seen in the UK, where the variant is now dominant.

'We cannot let that happen in the United States,' Fauci said, calling the UK's experience 'such powerful argument' to get vaccinated.

The variant is believed to be responsible for the most recent rise in cases in the UK and a study of cases in Scotland published on Monday found that it was associated with about double the risk of hospitalization compared with the Alpha variant, B.1.1.7, that was first identified in the UK.

The UK announced Monday that the easing of coronavirus restrictions would be delayed another four weeks, until July 19, following a rise in cases and, in particular, the growing spread of the Delta variant.

Delta variant in the United States

As of Sunday, the Delta variant was responsible for about 10.3% of US Covid-19 cases, according to Dr. Eric Topol, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, whose outbreak.info has been tracking variants throughout the pandemic.

The may not seem like a lot, but the speed with which it's spreading is a concern.

'It doubles every seven to 10 days, which means when it gets to three weeks from now, this variant will be dominant,' Topol said. 'That means we have two to three weeks to just go flat out with vaccination to stop this trend.'

Vaccinations generally seem to keep variants in check. The Alpha strain, for instance, is the dominant strain in the United States and has been since about late April. But with exceptions such as Michigan, it didn't cause surges in cases in most parts of the country.

Topol said that the US was able to 'ante up' and go 'full tilt on vaccination' when the variant arrived in the United States.

With the Delta variant, Topol isn't as optimistic.

'This is the most troubling variant by far, because it's another 60% more contagious than the Alpha, so it's a super spreader strain,' Topol said. But the vaccination rate is stalling.

While 43.9% in the US is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, the rate at which people are getting vaccinated has been slowing down.

In Mississippi, nearly 29% of population is fully vaccinated. In Alabama it's less than 31%. In Arkansas, less than 33%. In Louisiana, Georgia, and Wyoming it's less than 34%, according to CDC data.

Vaccines and the Delta variant

The good news is that people who are fully vaccinated seem to have solid protection against the Delta variant.

A study published in the Lancet found a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine wasn't enough, but after the second dose, the Pfizer-BioNTech provided 79% protection from the Delta variant. That compares with 92% protection against the Alpha variant.

Another analysis from England's public health agency found two doses of the Pfizer vaccine seemed 96% effective against hospitalization.

Dr. Peter Hotez, director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, said on CNN's New Day Tuesday that he is 'extremely worried' about the Delta variant, although two doses of Pfizer or Moderna's Covid-19 vaccines look like they function 'really well' to protect against it.

Now is 'crunch time,' Hotez said, looking back to the surge of coronavirus cases across the South last year, when a 'horrible' wave of cases emerged in July and August.

'I have to believe this, with this new Delta variant, the same thing is going to happen again with anyone who's either unvaccinated or only a single dose of vaccine,' he said. 'And so this is the time for everyone to get vaccinated, because even if you want to get yourself vaccinated tomorrow or your adolescent child tomorrow, it's still going to take five to six weeks to get both of those doses of vaccine and then another week after that.'

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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