CDC designates Delta strain of COVID-19 'variant of concern'


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated the so-called Delta variant of the coronavirus first identified in India a “variant of concern.” 

The designation from the CDC is given to strains of the virus that researchers believe are more transmissible, can cause more severe disease or reduce effectiveness of vaccines or treatments. 

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The health agency says the B.1.617.2 variant appears to spread more easily from person-to-person than previous strains of the virus and has a “potential reduction in neutralization by post-vaccination sera,” as well as a “potential reduction in neutralization by some EUA monoclonal antibody treatments.” 

Health experts warned the variant could soon become the dominant strain in the U.S. as it currently accounts for about 10 percent of all new cases, raising concerns that outbreaks could hit unvaccinated people this fall. 

The Delta variant has become the dominant strain in the U.K. and is believed to be about 60 percent more transmissible than a previous strain known as alpha, which was previously the dominant strain in the country. 

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS on Sunday the Delta variant will likely become the dominant strain in the U.S., but “that doesn’t mean we’re going to see a sharp uptick in infections.” 

A recent study found the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines offer sufficient protection against the Delta variant.

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Public Health England found that the full two-dose Pfizer vaccine offers 96 percent protection against hospitalization, while the AstraZeneca vaccine, not yet approved for use in the U.S., provides 92 percent protection. 

The variant has spread to at least 74 countries. 

The U.S. is continuing to see a drop in the number of new cases as nearly 55 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated. The current seven-day moving average of daily new cases is just under 14,000, according to the CDC

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