Delta variant will likely become dominant Covid-19 strain in US, CDC chief says

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is expec...

Posted: Jun 18, 2021 2:43 PM
Updated: Jun 19, 2021 2:30 AM

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States, and it's further reason why people need to ramp up the vaccination pace, said the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that the Delta variant's increased transmissibility could allow it overtake the Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, in the US in the coming months.

'The UK variant was more transmissible. That is now nearly 70% of the virus here,' she said. 'We know that the Delta variant is even more transmissible than the UK variant, and I anticipate that will be the predominant variant in the months ahead.'

Walensky reiterated that the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines offer good protection against the variant — after the second dose.

'After two doses — reminding you, get your second dose — after two doses, you are protected from that Delta variant,' she said. 'And studies are underway now to examine the Johnson & Johnson. We just don't have as much data with that vaccine.'

Another vaccine expert says that time is running out to get ahead of the potential strain of variants — as odds stack against the US reaching President Joe Biden's goal of 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, especially as demand drops off.

'Vaccines are our only way out of this,' Dr. Paul Offit told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. 'Unless we vaccinate a significant percentage of the population before winter hits, you're going to see more spread and the creation of more variants, which will only make this task more difficult.'

Cases and infections have decreased, Offit said. But with hundreds of people dying and at least 10,000 people infected most days, the rates are still too high to prevent the summer lull from turning into a winter surge, he said.

13 states have fully vaccinated more than half of residents

More than 44% of the US population is fully vaccinated, or 148.5 million people, according to the latest data from the CDC.

At least 13 states have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents. Those states are Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

While the pace of vaccinations across the country has slowed, more than 900,000 new people on average become fully vaccinated daily, according to the CDC data.

In California, health officials announced the launch of a new website where residents can access a digital version of their Covid-19 vaccination card and use as proof of immunization -- but they said the electronic record will not be mandated.

'While (the California Department of Public Health) recommends that vaccinated Californians keep their paper CDC card in a safe and secure place, we recognize that some people might prefer an electronic version,' California state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said in a statement. 'And if one of the state's nearly 20 million vaccinated Californians misplaces their paper card, the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record provides a convenient backup.'

Variants should encourage people to get vaccinated, experts say

Experts have cautioned that the continued spread of the virus could lead to more numerous — and potentially more transmissible and dangerous — variants.

The US has already seen surges of the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta variants, while the spread of the Gamma variant is growing in several states.

To attain herd immunity, or the point at which the virus cannot easily spread within the community, experts have offered estimates of it requiring the inoculation through infection or vaccination of between 70 to 85% of the population. According to the CDC, only 53% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

And only 65% of adults have received at least one dose.

'You would have thought at the beginning of this, knowing that vaccines are our only way out of the pandemic, the hardest part would have been figuring out how to construct these vaccines,' said Offit, a key member of the Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines Advisory Committee. 'The hardest part is convincing people to get it, which is remarkable.'

Spreading variants shouldn't be a concern to those who are vaccinated, Dr. Anthony Fauci told NPR, but it should be an incentive to get vaccinated.

The CDC elevated the Delta variant to a variant of concern this week. Fauci said that 'the combination of more transmissibility and greater severity of disease, appropriately, prompted the CDC to elevate it to a variant of concern.'

When asked how concerned he was about the variant, Fauci said: 'I'm not concerned about the people who are vaccinated. Because the good news about all this, among the seriousness of the situation with regards to the variant, is that the vaccines work really quite well.'

People who are vaccinated are protected, 'which is another very good reason to encourage people strongly to get vaccinated because if you are not vaccinated, you are at risk of getting infected with a virus that now spreads more rapidly and gives more serious disease,' said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Vaccine protection could last a year or much longer

Experts and officials are pressing for people who are still hesitant to get the vaccines and help slow the spread.

'What do we do if a critical percentage of this population chooses not to get vaccinated and chooses to allow this virus to continue to spread, continue to hurt themselves and others and continue to create variants which become all the more contagious and all the more difficult to contain,' Offit said.

Protection offered by vaccines appears to be very strong, Offit said.

'Although immunity might fade for protection against mild disease or asymptomatic infection or low moderate disease, I think protection against critical disease will probably be relatively long-lasting, meaning for a few years,' he said. 'The so-called cellular immune response induced by these vaccines appears to be excellent.'

But experts can only rely on six months of data, since the vaccines are so new. And scientists still can't say for sure how long the protection will last.

Their durability will determine whether the population will need boosters, Fauci said.

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
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 72°
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.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather