Vaccines and the Delta Variant


Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 are rising and healthcare officials blame the Delta variant of the coronavirus for this recent surge. Should you be worried if you’re vaccinated?

Betsy McKay, writing in The Wall Street Journal, tells us the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, is spreading at an increasing rate around the country, penetrating areas where people are susceptible because they haven’t been vaccinated. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, says most of the people who are getting sick and needing hospitalization are not vaccinated.

Just under 2,000 new patients were admitted to hospitals each day over the week ending Monday, July 5th. This is a 6.8% increase over admissions during the previous week and an 88% decrease over a seven-day average of 16,492 patients admitted daily in early January, according to the CDC.

Two pictures of the pandemic are emerging across the country, said Dr. Walensky: One where vaccination rates are high, and new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are declining; and another where most people aren’t vaccinated, new cases are rising once again and hospitals are starting to fill up. Concern is rising for those who are unvaccinated.

The Delta variant is considered highly contagious and therefore more easily spread. This variant has become the dominant strain of Covid-19 in the U.S. today, making up at least 51.7% of new infections, according to the CDC.

The data show that the Covid-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant in most cases. A recent study published in the journal Nature, suggests that it takes both doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines to create sufficient protection. One shot barely protects against the Delta variant the study concludes. Natural immunity was less protective against Delta than against the Alpha variant, which was previously the dominant U.S. strain. The study did not evaluate the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The take-home message should be clear. If you’re fully vaccinated, the Delta variant represents little or no risk to you. If you’ve had only one shot, you probably should get the second shot. If you have natural immunity but have never been vaccinated, you should consider getting at least one shot to bolster your immunity. Studies suggest the second shot for those with natural immunity is unnecessary.

But if you’re never been vaccinated and never contracted the viral infection, you’re most vulnerable to this new Delta variant. Perhaps it is time for you to get vaccinated. Discuss this with your doctor and then make an informed choice.

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