08.07.2021, 11:43

Delta Variant Rises Cause Great Stakes For Vaccination

Dangerous Delta variant is causing deep stakes to the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination in the fight between the variant and vaccine development to protect people.

Spread of delta variant raises stakes for vaccination

The fight against the coronavirus pandemic in some wealthier countries has become a race between the highly contagious delta variant and the rollout of vaccines most scientists say still provide strong protection, according to Washington Post.

Delta Variant Rises Cause Great Stakes For Vaccination

An Israeli medical worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv on July 5. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Researchers are scrambling to confirm that vaccines remain effective in the face of the variant, first identified in India, which has come to account for more than half of new covid-19 cases in the United States, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Israel’s Health Ministry this week announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — one of the world’s most effective shots — was offering only 64 percent protection against infection and symptomatic illness caused by the delta variant.

But the vaccine remains highly successful at preventing severe illness and death, the ministry said.

In Britain, where the variant accounts for at least 95 percent of new infections, government officials have admitted that cases will probably soar after remaining pandemic-related restrictions are lifted this month, despite the fact that more than 50 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Officials maintain that high vaccination rates will keep hospitalizations and deaths low. In May, researchers affiliated with Public Health England found that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 88 percent effective against symptomatic illness caused by the delta variant.

Global death toll surpasses 4 million; delta variant dominant strain in the US

The global death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 4 million Wednesday as the crisis increasingly becomes a race between the vaccine and highly contagious variants.

The toll is three times the number of people killed in traffic accidents around the globe every year. It is about equal to the population of Los Angeles or the nation of Georgia. It is equivalent to more than half of Hong Kong or close to 50% of New York City, USA Today reported.

Even then, it is widely believed to be an undercount because of overlooked cases or deliberate concealment.

Photo: Getty Images

It comes as variants surge across the world, especially the delta variant, considered more infectious than the original strain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects the highly transmissible delta variant, first identified in India, is now the dominant strain in the U.S. The variant makes up 51.7% of all new infections, according to CDC data.

It's not just a problem in the U.S. Germany’s disease control center on Wednesday announced the delta variant has become dominant in the country, nearly doubling within one week. A French government spokesperson said cases increased by 20% from last week because of the variant. And in the United Kingdom, where the variant has also been circulating, officials reported more than 30,000 daily infections for the first time since January.

The head of the World Health Organization in the Eastern Mediterranean said COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the region after two months of steady declines.

"As we continue into the summer months, we are concerned about another spike in cases due to variants of concern and increased international travel, combined with low protection of people due to limited vaccination uptake and inadequate adherence to prevention measures," Regional Director Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari said in a statement Wednesday.

Delta variant gains ground among unvaccinated

The Delta variant is hardening a divide between people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and those who aren't, prompting hospitals to brace for new case surges and health authorities to redouble vaccination efforts. Now the most common strain in the U.S., Delta is spreading as public life resumes at restaurants, sporting events and other public settings across the country.

Infections from the Delta strain contributed to a 10% rise in daily Covid-19 cases to around 12,600 late last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. That is still a 95% drop from peak levels in the U.S. in January. And hospital admissions tied to Covid-19 dropped 1% from a week earlier, the CDC said. Vaccines available in the U.S. protect against the Delta variant, studies have shown, and cases of breakthrough infection in the fully vaccinated appear to rarely result in severe illness.

To the unvaccinated, though, the Delta variant poses an elevated threat. It is some 50% more transmissible than the Alpha variant that had been the most common strain in the U.S. since March, and scientists believe Delta is associated with more severe disease. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday that preliminary data collected from a set of U.S. states over the past six months showed that 99.5% of people who died of Covid-19 were unvaccinated.

"It is clear that communities where people remain unvaccinated are communities that remain vulnerable," she said.

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Charlotte Pho