Delta Variant Facts and Covid Vaccine Information
All viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Viruses constantly change and become more diverse. Scientists monitor these changes, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus. By carefully studying viruses, scientists can learn how changes to the virus might affect how it spreads and how sick people will get from it.
Think of a virus like a tree. A tree is constantly growing and branching out — each branch on the tree is slightly different than the others. By comparing the branches, scientists can label them according to the differences. These small differences, or “variants,” have been studied and identified since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some variations allow the virus to spread more easily or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines. Those variants must be, and are being, monitored more carefully.
What is the Delta Variant?
Delta is the name for the B.1.617.2. variant, a SARS-CoV-2 mutation that originally surfaced in India. The first Delta case was identified in December 2020, and the strain spread rapidly, soon becoming the dominant strain of the virus in both India and then Great Britain. The first Delta case in the United States was diagnosed in March 2021 and it is now the dominant strain in the U.S.
The Delta variant is a highly contagious strain of the virus.
People who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus appear to have protection against Delta, but anyone who is unvaccinated and not practicing preventive strategies is at risk for infection by the new variant.
Covid-19 Delta Variant Facts
Toward the end of June, Delta had already made up more than 20% of cases in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates. By the end of July, Delta was the cause of more than 80% of new U.S. COVID-19 cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called this version of the virus “the fastest and fittest.” In mid-June, the CDC labeled Delta as “a variant of concern,” using a designation also given to the Alpha strain that first appeared in Great Britain, the Beta strain that first surfaced in South Africa, the two Epsilon variants first diagnosed in the U.S., and the Gamma strain identified in Brazil.
Is the Delta Variant More Contagious?
Yes, the Delta variant is more contagious.
“It’s actually quite dramatic how the growth rate will change,” says Dr. F. Perry Wilson, an epidemiologist with Yale Medicine. “Delta is spreading 50% faster than Alpha, which was 50% more contagious than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2,” he says. “In a completely unmitigated environment—where no one is vaccinated or wearing masks—it’s estimated that the average person infected with the original coronavirus strain will infect 2.5 other people. In the same environment, Delta would spread from one person to maybe 3.5 or 4 other people.”
Not only is the Delta variant more contagious than the initial virus, but it is also growing exponentially and more rapidly than other variant strains. This variant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 and is out-competing all other variant strains.
Delta Variant Symptoms
With the Delta variant, COVID-19 symptoms often begin like a cold. Symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, and other upper respiratory infection symptoms. Many who contracted the original COVID-19 virus likened it to a bad case of influenza with fever, loss of smell, persistent cough, and shortness of breath.
Some patients infected with the Delta variant have reported that some symptoms are slightly different. Cough and loss of smell seem to be less common. Headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever seem to be more common.
Severe cases of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, can result in difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, and pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone. If you or someone you know are experiencing any of these symptoms, please seek emergency medical care immediately.
COVID-19 is not just a bad version of the flu. COVID-19 patients have died at five times the rate of flu patients, required mechanical ventilation four times as often, and were admitted to intensive care 2.5 times as often. For people age 25-44, COVID-19 has been far deadlier than almost anything else, with the only thing close being unintentional opioid deaths, which until now was the leading cause of death in this age group in the U.S.
People who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are most at risk.
In the U.S., there is a disproportionate number of unvaccinated people in Southern and Appalachian states including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and West Virginia, where vaccination rates are low (in some of these states, the number of cases is on the rise even as some other states are lifting restrictions because their cases are going down).
In Kansas, 1,475,909 people, or 50% of the state, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Overall, 1,259,549 people, or 43% of Kansas’s population, have been fully vaccinated. The percentage of people who need to be immune from a disease in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. Herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of the population to be vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%. The proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known at this time.
Older age groups in Kansas have much higher vaccination rates currently compared with younger age groups. People who are younger and unvaccinated are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 from any variant — though data shows Delta is impacting younger age groups more than previous variants. A recent study from the United Kingdom showed that children and adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19.
At this time, the Covid vaccine has been not yet been approved for children age 5-12 in the U.S. It is possible a Covid vaccine will be given emergency use authorization for children under age 12 by the fall of 2021.
How to Prevent Covid Delta Variant
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from the Delta variant of COVID-19 is to get fully vaccinated. That means if you get a two-dose vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna, you must get both shots and then wait the recommended two-week period for those shots to take full effect. Whether or not you are vaccinated, it’s also important to follow CDC prevention guidelines that are available for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Of course, there are many people who cannot get the Covid vaccine. In some cases their doctor has advised them against it for health reasons or because personal logistics or difficulties have created roadblocks—or they may choose not to get it.
If you have questions about the Covid-19 vaccines and determining if getting vaccinated is right for you, talk to a member of our team or speak with your family doctor.
Covid Vaccine Effectiveness
All of the Covid-19 vaccines are highly effective and safe.
There are different COVID-19 vaccines available from different companies. Which vaccine you get is entirely dependent on which vaccine your provider has.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has an efficacy of 95% and requires 2 shots, 3 weeks apart. It is an mRNA-based vaccine, which triggers an immune response that produces antibodies to protect us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies. .
The Moderna vaccine has an efficacy of 94.1% and requires 2 shots, 4 weeks apart. It is also an mRNA-based vaccine, which triggers an immune response that produces antibodies to protect us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has an efficacy of 66% and only requires a single dose. This vaccine is based on the COVID-19 virus’s genetic instructions for building what’s called a “spike protein.” Out of an abundance of caution, the US has temporarily paused the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
To put things in perspective, the flu vaccine has an efficacy of roughly 44%, meaning all of the COVID-19 vaccines are considered highly effective.
Covid Vaccine Safety
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
Thousands of Kansas and millions of Americans have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines underwent clinical trials and have been approved for emergency use authorization. The vaccines will also undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
The COVID-19 vaccines are still in emergency use authorization (EUA) because not enough time has passed to show how long the vaccines stay effective. The vaccines’ EUA status doesn’t mean they’re less safe.
Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and a member of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee stated, “The vaccines are reviewed with the same level of scrutiny as they would to get full approval.” Offit said he’s confident the vaccines will get full FDA approval.
“The effectiveness and efficacy data in the Phase 3 trials and now in the real world is excellent,” he said. “Also, the vaccine trials showed ‘excellent cellular immune responses’ — meaning so-called T helper cells.” Offit said that’s a good sign these vaccines give strong, long-lasting protection.
Get Vaccinated From COVID-19
HealthCore Clinic is currently vaccinating ALL residents of Sedgwick County who are age 12+. We have both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine is free, and no insurance is required. As a federally qualified health clinic, we do not charge a fee for the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost for the patient, regardless of insurance status. However, the appropriate insurance will be billed, if applicable.
Some Reasons People Are Not Getting Vaccinated
I don’t want to get Covid-19 from the vaccine.
It is 100% impossible to get Covid-19 from any of the vaccines used in the United States. None of the Covid vaccines contains even a piece of real coronavirus.
We don’t know what the long-term side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines are.
Any potential issues would have become apparent within two months of people getting vaccinated. Throughout history, new vaccine side effects have been caught within roughly 6 weeks. While there may be very rare side effects that aren’t immediately found in clinical trials, they are due to the extreme rarity of those side effects, not because it’s a long-term issue.
I’ve already had Covid-19, so I don’t need to be vaccinated.
Even if you’ve had coronavirus, you should still get vaccinated. The immunity you will get from vaccination will likely be longer and/or stronger than the immunity you got after getting infected according to health experts.
The vaccine might hurt my fertility.
There’s no evidence that people have lost any fertility because of the Covid-19 vaccines. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown there is no link between any vaccines and fertility.
Who cares if I don’t get vaccinated?
Refusing the Covid-19 vaccine impacts a lot of people other than yourself. Your loved ones, your friends, your co-workers and peers, and even the country as a whole. By choosing to not be vaccinated if you are eligible, you’re allowing the virus to continue to replicate. When it’s allowed to continue to replicate, it will create mutations, which could then cause additional variants that are completely resistant to the immunity induced by natural infection or immunization.
I’m young and healthy, so I don’t need to get vaccinated.
Many young, healthy people have developed ongoing symptoms from Covid-19, suffering chronic fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, and brain fog months after their infection. Covid-19 attacks everyone, regardless of age and health.
The Covid vaccines only have emergency use authorization, not full FDA approval.
The Covid vaccines are still in emergency use authorization (EUA) because not enough time has passed to show how long the vaccines stay effective. The vaccines’ EUA status doesn’t mean they’re less safe.
My faith will protect me.
If you believe that God created us in His image, including being able to think and reason, we’ve been able to think and reason diseases away in the past. We don’t die from smallpox anymore. Children aren’t permanently paralyzed by polio anymore. God gave us a brain to think and reason with. We are using the brains God gave us to create and administer the Covid-19 vaccines.
I don’t know if I can afford a vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free, and no insurance is required. Yes, 100% free.