By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer County of Santa Barbara, Department of Public Health
The highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant, also known as B1617.2, was found in India in December 2020. It’s now the dominant strain in Europe and many parts of Africa and Asia.
As of June 14, 2021, the delta variant has reached 74 countries. Experts believe delta is anywhere from 30% to 100% more infectious than alpha.
The delta variant seems to affect younger people more often. In the United Kingdom, studies showed that children and adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected.
In addition, the symptoms related to the delta variant appear to be more severe. People may be more likely to end up in the hospital if they have the delta variant. Studies suggest it might have almost double the risk of hospitalization than the alpha variant.
The delta variant is gaining momentum and will be the dominant strain in California within weeks. Already 5% of new infections are due to delta, as compared with 2% last week. Nationally currently 20% of new infections are due to the delta version of the virus.
Fortunately, our vaccines are very effective, however optimal protection is only achieved after the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that the more the delta variant spreads, the greater the chance even more dangerous mutants could evolve.
“We know our vaccines work against this variant. However, this variant represents a set of mutations that could lead to future mutations that evade our vaccines,” she said.
“And that’s why it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated now to stop the chain of infection, the chain of mutations that could lead to a more dangerous variant,” Walensky said.
Those 12 years of age and older have been approved to receive the vaccine. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent getting the delta variant and in Santa Barbara County, there are many locations to obtain the free vaccine, often without an appointment. Please visit: www.myturn.ca.gov/ to make an appointment, or visit: https://publichealthsbc.org/vaccine/ for more information.