Joe Biden and his administration continue the push for herd immunity against COVID-19, this time focusing on the potential dangers associated with the new delta variant of the virus.
President Biden, in a statement earlier this week, said that “the Delta variant is already responsible for half of all cases in many parts of this country. Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected. And because of that, their communities are at risk, their friends are at risk, the people they care about are at risk. This is an even bigger concern because of the Delta variant.”
Earlier this month, Jen Psaki mentioned a plan to go door to door to encourage vaccines for those still skeptical, as it is predicted that nearly 160 million Americans will be vaccinated by this weekend. According to Yale Medicine, it is too early to know if people who have already been vaccinated will need booster shots to protect against the variant.
According to Yahoo News, the Delta variant has now been found in all fifty states in the U.S. and is thought to be more contagious than the original virus. The delta variant is a SARS-CoV-2 virus strain. It was first found in India in December 2020, and by March 2020 it had spread to the United States. One epidemiologist from Yale Medicine, F. Perry Wilson, said that while it is normal that viruses evolve over time, it is surprising at how quickly this delta variant is spreading (Intelligencer).
He believes the pandemic will be accelerated by this new variant. While a person infected with the original strain would infect about 2.5 others, a person infected with the new variant would reportedly infect about 3.5 or 4 others. This strain has also been said to be more infectious in children, for whom no vaccine has been approved. The Delta strain’s symptoms also seem to be a bit different: more reports of headache, sore throat, and fever are much more common than loss of taste and smell (Yale Medicine).
According to health experts, fully vaccinated individuals should be protected from this emerging strain of the COVID virus. Dr. Fauci, America’s leading epidemiologist, and the World Health Organization have both come out in recent weeks encouraging even those who have been fully vaccinated to continue to wear masks, despite CDC guidelines stating that those vaccinated don’t need to (CNBC).