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What have we learned about the Delta variant?

August 16, 2021

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As with all viruses, new variations, or variants, of the COVID-19 virus have emerged. These variants deepen our understanding of the virus, and, in some cases, may cause as much, or more, fear and devastation than the original virus.

The Delta variant is a COVID-19 variant that belongs in this category and demands urgent attention. As you may have read in the news media and elsewhere, Delta variant cases are surging quickly and severely, with many, many patients going to hospitals in critical condition. The numbers are so dramatic that there is the potential that some hospitals could soon be overwhelmed by Delta variant patients. This is understandably a sad development for those of us who hoped that we were on the “other side” of the pandemic just a few weeks ago.

Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released findings of the Delta variant. These findings clarify our understanding of both COVID-19 and the Delta variant. They also help form a solid plan of action as to what all of us need to do to protect ourselves better and more securely against COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

What have we learned about the Delta variant?

Here is a summary of findings by the CDC:

  • The Delta variant spreads more easily and faster than the original COVID-19 virus and previous variants. All of these variants are also more contagious than the original variant.
  • There is strong evidence that the Delta variant causes more severe infections. Severe infections result in more hospitalizations of critically sick patients.
  • Some people who have been fully vaccinated have still gotten infected. This is because the Delta variant causes infected individuals to receive higher amounts of the virus. This is also why the Delta variant spreads more easily than previous variants.

The silver lining of sorts: The CDC findings tell us what we can—and must—do to protect ourselves. The steps are clear and easy.

The CDC again confirms that getting vaccinated is the best tool we have to protect against infection. Vaccinations are also highly effective at preventing severe infections that cause hospitalizations and death. For people age 12 and older who have not been vaccinated, getting vaccinated is a step that should be taken as soon as possible. Unvaccinated people are especially vulnerable to the Delta variant.

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Other steps that we should follow immediately according to the CDC:

Resume familiar protective measures. These include:

  • Wearing masks indoors.
  • Being physically distant.
  • Avoiding large crowds indoors and outdoors.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID, stay home.

Many of us are fatigued and tired by the past 17 months. Some of us may have even been ready to say goodbye to wearing masks indoors a few weeks ago. But we are at a crucial moment in the pandemic and following these guidelines will save lives. These short-term steps will make life in the long-term safer and more enjoyable for all of us.

There will likely be more COVID-19 variants after the Delta variant. When these variants appear, we will have to continue to remain patient, cautious, alert and open to the new findings and evidence presented to us.

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