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The COVID Delta Variant: What to Know

This fast-moving, easily transmissible variant of the COVID-19 virus should be taken seriously—even if you’re vaccinated

You may have heard healthcare leaders across the country warning about the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Their warning was well-reasoned, as Delta has exploded with high transmission rates across most of our nation. Reports from the CDC and other news sources have noted that—by the end of July 2021—Delta was the cause of more than 80% of new U.S. COVID-19 cases.

And what’s more, its ability to be transmitted is higher than the original COVID-19 virus strain. Recent studies indicate that in a completely protection-free environment—an event where no one is vaccinated nor wearing masks—an average person with the original virus would infect 2.5 other people.

With Delta, that number jumps to 3.5 or 4. And with large numbers of people who are unvaccinated or maskless, that increase in transmission can mean dozens or hundreds of new cases at a time.

What do you need to know about this highly transmissible new strain? Share the information below (and this blog post!) with friends and loved ones to stay safe and prevent any unnecessary hospitalizations or deaths.

What exactly is a variant? Is Delta a new virus?

Viruses, much like bacteria, can mutate over time. This simply means small changes to their surfaces or building blocks that make them look and behave differently than the original virus. Scientists expect viruses like the flu virus or the COVID-19 virus to mutate, as this process occurs naturally over time. The key is monitoring and tracking these changes to determine which variants may naturally disappear, and which variants may stick around to cause problems.

Right now, Delta is the biggest concern globally, due to its ability to transmit more easily than the original strain—including among vaccinated people.

If vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can both spread Delta, what’s the benefit of being vaccinated?

Vaccinations work in numerous ways to benefit you: they work to minimize the chances of you getting a virus in the first place, but they also work to keep you from getting severely ill if you happen to catch the virus. And since no vaccination is 100% effective, there is always a chance of catching a virus that you are vaccinated from.

Reports on Delta have shown that it can spread and be transmitted to vaccinated people more easily than the original strain. However, national estimates have shown that there is a much greater risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from Delta if you are unvaccinated.

Therefore, it is still vital to get your COVID-19 vaccine, if you haven’t already. Whether you catch the original virus or Delta, there is a 99.99% chance that it will not lead to hospitalization or death if you’re vaccinated.

I got my vaccine; how do I prevent unintentionally catching or transmitting Delta to my friends and loved ones?

The good news is that practicing safe measures is still effective at reducing the chances of the virus’s spread. This means hand washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing whenever possible—especially when in indoor public spaces.

I haven’t gotten the vaccine; do social distancing, hand washing, and mask-wearing protect me from Delta?

Practicing the safe measures above is important for everyone, but the COVID-19 vaccine is still the best tool you have to protect yourself. It’s not too late to get vaccinated. As we noted above, catching Delta while unvaccinated vastly increases the chance of you getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, or dying.

So you’re saying the vaccine prevents more than 90% of severe illness and death from COVID-19, but it’s less effective at preventing infection or transmission?

This is true with Delta, since it is a variant of the original strain. It’s also why it is so important to:

  • Get vaccinated, if you have not already, and
  • Practice social safety measures like hand washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing—especially when in indoor public spaces

These two actions together not only keep you safe from severe illness and possibly death, but they also keep those around you—your friends and loved ones—safe as well.

Please share this helpful info to those around you to better understand Delta and to stay healthy. If you have more questions or need help finding where you can get a vaccine, contact your Everside Health provider for more information.

Not an Everside member? Reach out to your local pharmacy or primary care provider to get information on vaccinations in your area.