The COVID-19 Delta Variant and Vaccines: Good News Overall

If you live in Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, or Tennessee, you are leading the nation. Unfortunately, you are leading in the number of people who are unvaccinated for COVID-19. Each of these states is near or below the 40% vaccination rate, putting more than half their population at risk of serious infection, including hospitalization or death. 

While the morbidity of the Delta variant is still being questioned, there is not doubt it is more transmissible. As reported by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the “Delta is highly transmissible—about 60% more so than the previously dominant Alpha, which was itself more transmissible than the original virus—and more virulent.” 

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology and a faculty member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health states, “Delta’s greater virulence means that unvaccinated people who become infected will be sicker and the burden on the health care system will be greater. Evidence suggests, for example, that an unvaccinated person with Delta infection is roughly twice as likely to require hospital treatment than a person infected with the previously dominant variant.”

Share of people vulnerable to infection with the Delta variant Source:

Scientists believe the virulence of the Delta strain has something to do with its viral load. Researchers have found that “ . . . the Delta variant contains 1,000 times more viral material than that of the original novel coronavirus variant that infected much of the global population during the onset of the global pandemic last year.” Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a June 21 news conference that “All of these viruses have been lethal in their own regard. This virus has the potential to be more lethal because it’s more efficient in the way it transmits between humans and it will eventually find those vulnerable individuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalized and potentially die.”

There are some preliminary theories about why the Delta variant is so much more virulent and transmissible than its predecessor. An article from the site Science Alert titled, Everything We Know So Far About The COVID-19 Delta Variant, states, “Notably, a preprint study that has yet to be peer-reviewed suggested that three mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein may make the variant more transmissible by making it easier for the spike protein to bind to the receptor in human cells (known as the ACE2 receptor).”  That means the Delta variant can, in layman’s terms, grab on to more places on our cells, thus creating more opportunities to take over the host cells and replicate its harmful genes. 

Not everyone is in agreement with the lethality of the Delta variant. The New York Post reports “The seven-day average of new UK cases is above 25,000, the highest since late January, when the weekly average had just dropped from a peak of 50,000. But only 2,000 COVID cases are hospitalized, vs. nearly 40,000 in January. Daily deaths average under 20, vs. more than 1,000 in January.” 

However, regardless of where the science stands on Delta, research shows conclusively the current vaccines do offer a significant amount of protection against contracting severe COVID-19 symptoms. According to the Epic Times, “Analysis of recent swab tests in England suggests that double-vaccinated people are three times less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.” And even though the vaccines do not offer the same degree of protection against the Delta variant as compared to the Alpha variant (the original SARS‑CoV‑2 virus), studies show “. . . the Pfizer/BioNTech jab offering 88% protection against symptomatic disease with the Delta variant, compared with 94% protection against the Alpha variant,” while with the “Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the figures were 67% and 74% respectively.”

So if you live in an under-vaccinated state and want to be able to have some sense of security, your best option is likely to get fully vaccinated. 



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