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COVID-19 Delta Variant Alarms US Authorities

Delta variant
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman (SEAC) Ramon “CZ” Colon-Lopez receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 21, 2020. The Delta variant of the coronavirus is rearing its head in Europe and the US at present. Credit: DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II.

The Delta coronavirus mutation, once referred to as the “Indian variant,” where it was first detected, is also known as B.1.617.2. and now has started worrying US authorities.

Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control, spoke to interviewers on CBS’ Good Morning America on Saturday, urging people everywhere to be inoculated as soon as possible as the Delta variant continues to rear its head around the world.

The World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday that it is now “well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally because of its increased transmissibility.”

The Delta mutation of the coronavirus is already causing a new spike in the numbers of new coronavirus cases in Europe — in the United Kingdom and Portugal in particular.

Delta variant reported around world, causing reimposition of strict  coronavirus measures

This sudden rise in coronavirus infections on the continent is occurring, according to global health officials, even as immunization rates in many nations are already quite high and are increasing in other areas around the world.

The Delta variant cases reported in Great Britain and Portugal have forced officials to either reimpose their previous lockdown restrictions or even to put aside their much-anticipated plans for lifting pandemic-related rules.

At the present time, public health officials in France, Germany, and Spain are continuing to monitor virus clusters that have been caused by the Delta variant. Greece has not seen many cases of the variant.

Thankfully, according to the latest findings, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the first to have come onto the worldwide market, have been shown to be very effective against this new strain.

Dr. Shah, one of the more prominent state CDC directors — whose popularity is such that he even has his own Facebook fan club — reasoned, however, that all this points to even more urgency in receiving the inoculation, just as some members of the American public appear to be losing interest in getting the vaccine.

“We can act — now”

Asked if he agreed with the President’s statement on Friday that the new mutation is “even more transmissible and potentially deadlier” and has been found in nearly every state now, Shah concurred.

“President Biden is right. The emergence of the Delta variant, which has now been found in many states across the United States, does pose a challenge to our collective efforts to squash Covid once and for all. That being said, we need not react to the Delta variant, we can act — now.

“Thankfully, the vaccines that we have available have shown great effectiveness against the Delta variant. The best thing that folks can do right now who are concerned about this is to take the clear step of going out and getting vaccinated and keeping themselves and their families safe.”

Early reports from those suffering from the Delta variant say that symptoms that are slightly different from the classic Covid-19 indicators are showing up, making it slightly trickier to determine exactly what someone might be suffering from. These include the classic cold symptoms of headache, sore throat, and a runny nose.

Asked just what people should be looking out for and when they should decide to get tested after noting them, Shah replied “It’s not so much that these symptoms are new, but they are slightly different than the more classical symptoms that we have heard about, such as cough and shortness of breath. Instead as you say, headaches and runny noses.

“But the bottom line here is not different. If you’re not feeling that well — especially if you are not yet vaccinated — the best things to do are first of all to stay home, stay inside and avoid exposing others, and second, to arrange for yourself to get tested.

“After you are recovered, if you do have Covid 19, then get yourself vaccinated.”

“Science unfolding in action, right before our eyes”

There have been more than 300 cases now of myocarditis, or an inflammation of the heart muscle, reported in teenagers across the nation who have received the coronavirus vaccination. The vast majority of those who have reported the development have since experienced a full recovery without any treatment whatsoever.

The US CDC has postponed their emergency meeting that they had originally called on the matter until later this week.

However, Shah was adamant that these cases should not cause any hesitation in the decision to go ahead with vaccinations in teenagers.

“My view right now, based on what we know today, is that the risk of Covid-19 still exceeds the risks of getting the vaccine,” Shah emphasized.

“What we are seeing is science unfolding in action, right before our eyes.

“And the central question that scientists are trying to figure out is whether these cases of heart inflammation merely happened after folks got vaccinated — or whether they happened because they got vaccinated.

“Wherever we land on that question scientifically, based on what we know right now, especially in light of the Delta variant that we have been discussing, the risk of Covid still exceeds the risk of getting vaccinated.

“What I would indicate to those who have not been vaccinated, and the parents of younger folks, is to still go ahead and get that shot.”

Already – existing vaccines 88% effective against Delta variant

A recent study on the part of Public Health England demonstrated that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had proven 88% effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant — compared with the staggering 93% effectiveness against the Alpha variant, which was the first mutation to be detected in the UK.

After just one dose, however, the the vaccine only provided 33% protection against the variant, pointing to a need to get that second shot if one has already begun the vaccination process.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had earlier voiced concerns regarding the spread of the Delta strain, calling it officially last week a “variant of concern,” meaning that it poses a significant threat to those who are still unvaccinated.

Cleveland, Ohio-based Dr. Claudia Hoyen, the University Hospitals and Rainbow Babies & Children Director of Infectious Disease, stated to interviewers from Fox 8: “Last year, lots of young people got sick. Many, many — and often times they didn’t even know they were sick.

“But now as they’re starting to get this Delta strain they don’t seem to have that luxury of not getting sick like last year,” she explained.

Ohio and Maine have stood out for creating lotteries which encourage interest in the vaccine, with Ohio staging “Vax-a-million,” a series of payouts and the awarding of scholarships on an ongoing basis as a way to engender interest in the inoculation process.

The Ohio Department of Health reports that 43 percent of the population is now fully protected against the virus. “We certainly have pockets around the state where the vaccination rate is exceedingly low. That is of grave concern,” said the state’s governor, Mike DeWine, on Friday in the Fox 8 report.

He added that the number of vaccinations that occurred during the first two weeks of the Vax-A-Million campaign were “phenomenal” — but that interest has since fallen away a bit. He adds that other incentives will be explored in order to get more shots in arms.

“We are not done. You will see some more initiatives from us. We will be announcing some things next week and the week after and the week after. So we’re still very focused on this,” DeWine said.

UK backtracks on reopening measures as almost all new cases are Delta variant

Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a delay in plans to lift the long-awaited final strictures related to the nation’s lockdown, citing “a faster than predicted” spread of the new Delta variant.

After having been originally slated to end today, the British PM said that the remaining restrictions on businesses and the holding of large events in the UK will now remain in place until Monday, July 19.

Incredibly, the most recent data shows that 99% of sequenced and genotyped coronavirus cases across the UK are now the Delta variant, according to information from Public Health England.

NPR reports that Dr. Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency said in a statement “The increase is primarily in younger age groups, a large proportion of which were unvaccinated but are now being invited to receive the vaccine.”

Last Friday, the government announced every British adult over the age of 18 would now be eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

After suffering more deaths per capita than any other Western country — and an equally fast and successful vaccine rollout — the number of coronavirus cases in the UK as of June 18 showed that instances of the Delta variant have risen by 33,630 from the week before to a new total of 75,953.

A staggering 59.5% of the population of the UK is now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, as compared to 45.1 percent of the US population, according to the CDC’s most recent data as reported on Monday morning.

This represents 149,667,646 Americans who have been fully vaccinated. The state of Vermont leads the way, with 64.13 of is residents now fully vaxxed; Maine is in second place at present, with 59.85 percent fully covered by the vaccinations.

As of Monday, 81.6% of the UK population has received at least one dose, according to government data.

This past weekend, Portugal banned all weekend travel in and out of the capital city of Lisbon in an effort to clamp down on any further spread of the virus to other regions of the country.

The National Health Institute of Portugal further reported this weekend that the Delta variant represents at least 60% of all new cases in the nation’s capital. The country reported that there were 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the fourth day in a row on Saturday, according to a Reuters report.

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