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Delta Variant Information

How Variants Emerge

We are in a pandemic and there are epidemiologic principles that will hold true throughout. With each case of Covid passed from one person to another, a new copy of the virus is made. Imagine that the copies are being made by hand, by a scribe or monk in medieval times. Small errors can be made, a misplaced comma, an E replaced with an I. With each error comes the possibility that the new copy will have a “fitness advantage” making it easier to transmit. When this happens, whichever copy of the virus is the best at transmitting, will become the dominant variant. Sometimes the illness from the variant is similar to the original virus, sometimes it is more deadly, or harder to accurately test for, or harder to treat, evading our medications and therapies. When the virus is allowed to replicate and infect people, it poses a risk for all. It poses a risk for the unvaccinated in that they are not protected against any type of Covid. And it poses a risk for the vaccinated in that a new variant which is not covered by the vaccine could be created.

Effectiveness of Current Vaccines against the Delta Variant

For now, vaccinated individuals are still very well protected from serious Covid (requiring hospitalization or death, above 95% as of July 27, 2021). The protection against symptomatic disease is still quite good (above 80% as of July 27, 2021), but this can be expected to change with each new variant. It is in everyone’s best interest to get the largest percent of our population vaccinated and to make changes that reduce spread of SARS CoV-2. Mask in indoor situations, avoid crowded indoor settings, wash hands, pay attention to ventilation.

The Delta Variant and Covid Testing

COVID tests still work on the current variants. The FDA continues to monitor the sensitivity of tests. It is possible that a future variant could evade testing, but that is being monitored for.

Getting Ahead of the Pandemic

We get ahead of the pandemic by having most of the world vaccinated. We can look at polio and measles as how diseases can be controlled by an effective vaccination campaign. Now measles outbreaks only occur when an area falls below a certain level of vaccination and there is a case in that area. We are all in this together.