What we know about the delta variant of COVID-19 following new CDC report
An internal document circulated within the Centers for Disease Control CDC report and Prevention warns the delta variant is more contagious, more likely to break through protections afforded by the vaccines and may be more severe than other variants of COVID-19.
1. Delta variant is highly contagious
The CDC said the main difference between the delta variant and previous strains is that delta is highly contagious and likely more severe. Plus, breakthrough infections caused by delta may be as transmissible as unvaccinated cases.
“This is an incredibly, incredibly contagious version of virus, it’s almost like a whole different virus,” Dr. Ashish Jha said. “And CDC is estimating that it is probably also more deadly.”
2. Symptoms are the same
The symptoms are generally the same as other COVID-19 strains: fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, fatigue, respiratory congestion, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. However, physicians are seeing people getting sick quicker, especially younger people. Vaccinated people who contract the variants are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
3. Unvaccinated people are at risk
Nationally, 97% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, as of July 22.
4. Vaccination is the best protection but breakthrough cases are still possible
Vaccines prevent more than 90% of severe diseases, but may be less effective at preventing infection or transmission of the delta variant, the CDC said. Therefore, there could be more breakthrough infections and more community spread despite people’s vaccination status.
“Current vaccines continue to provide strong protection against severe illness and death, but the delta variant is likely responsible for increased numbers of breakthrough infections — breakthroughs that could be as infectious as unvaccinated cases,” Dr. John Brownstein, an ABC News contributor, said. “This internal document highlights the challenge we all now face in combating the most transmissible variant of COVID so far.”