What is the COVID-19 Delta Variant?
As 2021 began, much of the United States and other developing countries began to see the COVID-19 pandemic as a nightmare of the past. Vaccinations, lower infection rates, and a reopening economy began to give hope to those who spent a year in lockdown.
However, in countries without access to proper social distancing measures and vaccines, the COVID-19 virus raged on. In India, the virus surge in late 2020 and early 2021 gave way to reports of the new strain- the Delta Variant.
In a few months, the Delta Variant began to surge across the globe – including in countries that had seen success fighting down previous infection surges. By July 2021, the CDC reported that 80% of new COVID-19 cases in the US were caused by the new Delta strain.
Suddenly, the hope of freedom from COVID-19 seems a thing of the past.
What is the Delta Variant, and how much more dangerous is it? Let’s take a closer look at this variant and how you can protect yourself and others from the dangers.
What are COVID-19 Variants?
To understand what the Delta Variant of COVID-19 is, it can help to know how viruses mutate in the first place.
Viruses are just pieces of DNA or RNA that infect living cells. The virus inserts its genetic material into the host cell’s genome and uses its machinery to replicate itself. It is this “insertion” that allows viruses to mutate so quickly. As soon as a virus has infected a new cell, it will have incorporated new genetic material into its genome and will therefore have mutated.
But what causes the mutation? Viruses (unlike cells in your body) don’t need to use their DNA or RNA for any vital metabolic processes that a change in sequence may disrupt. Also, they don’t possess “proof-reading” enzymes capable of correcting mistakes in the copying of DNA.
Mistakes in viral replication are more common and can have greater consequences for the eventual outcome. Some mutations cause the virus to lose infectivity or severity, while others make them stronger – and potentially able to avoid measures such as vaccines with greater success.
Why is the Delta Variant So Dangerous
The Delta variant – also known as the B.1.617.2. Variant – has received the most press in the news. However, it is not the first COVID-19 variant that has emerged as a leading infectious strain.
There have been variants emerge from Alpha, Beta, and Gamma (also known as P.1). Delta first emerged in December 2020 and has since then become one of the most prevalent strains across the globe.
There are a few reasons why the Delta Variant has proven so much more difficult to stop:
Higher Infectivity Rate (R0)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delta Variant has shown to be far more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain and other variants.
The key to infectivity is in the R0 (R-Naught) of a strain. R0 is the reproductive ratio or the number of secondary cases one infected person will cause. The reproductive ratio indicates how well a given infection spreads and changes with time, age, population density, and other factors.
According to F. Perry Wilson, MD, a Yale Medicine epidemiologist, Delta’s R0 number is almost double that of the original COVID-19 level. By recent estimates, each person infected with the Delta Variant may be infecting 3.5-4 other people at any given time.
This has led to the Delta Variant becoming the dominant strain across many parts of the world in a short period of time.
Increased Prevalence Among Younger Populations
The Delta Variant has also proven to cause more severe problems in younger populations. As the original strain began to spread, the most severe cases were often found in those ages 65 and older or those with underlying conditions.
However, as Delta spreads among a vaccine-hesitant younger population, the results have been devastating in many areas. While the symptoms have not been alarmingly more severe, reports are already beginning to emerge about young, healthy individuals finding themselves hospitalized after being infected with the highly contagious Delta Variant.
Even those who don’t find themselves sick enough to end up in the hospital are still infecting those who may be at greater risk of severe disease or death.
Vaccine Hesitancy and Misinformation
Perhaps one of the most significant risks facing the globe with the Delta Variant is the perfect storm of higher infectivity and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
Due to ongoing confusion related to the rollout of vaccines worldwide and malicious disinformation campaigns online, many individuals who thought themselves to be “safe” from severe illness refused available vaccines.
This has left many of the population – especially in the United States – at greater risk for catching and spreading the Delta Variant as it emerged. The sudden rise in infection levels among the unvaccinated has strained medical facilities and resources already reeling from earlier outbreaks.
Are Vaccines Effective?
Despite the high levels of infectivity caused by the Delta Variant, it appears that the leading vaccines are still offering protection against this strain.
There have been reports of breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, but most are mild or asymptomatic cases – showing that the vaccines are still successful in preventing severe disease and death.
Most recently, the CDC reversed its guidance on masking for the unvaccinated, calling for those who are fully vaccinated to return to wearing masks in high-risk locations.
While many balked at this new guidance, the CDC based its reasoning on new findings that showed even fully vaccinated individuals who are infected can spread the virus to others.
How We Can Stop The Delta Variant with Rapid Testing
In order to put a stop to the dangerous spread of the COVID-19 Delta Variant, it is crucial that we all take steps to remain healthy and avoid infecting one another.
Previous methods such as hand-washing, masking, social distancing, and isolation after exposure are still the best way to stop the spread of Delta. It is essential to take proactive steps to avoid exposing others who may or may not be vaccinated against the strain.
While testing for COVID-19 was limited during the early days of the pandemic, scientific innovations have helped bring testing kits readily available to homes across the country. If you or someone you know may have been exposed to COVID-19, you can now test quickly from the comfort of your home with a variety of tests from AnyPlaceMD.
AnyPlaceMD has launched a line of highly effective and fast COVID-19 testing kits that you can order today to test yourself for strains of COVID-19, including the Delta Variant:
- Rapid Antibody Testing
- Healgen Rapid Antigen Testing
- COVID-19/Flu Dual Tests
- Saliva-Based Home COVID-19 PCR Tests
By giving people the ability to test themselves quickly for COVID-19, individuals can better isolate themselves quickly and receive the medical attention they need to prevent severe disease.
With the coming cold and influenza season, it will be more important than ever to test for a variety of symptoms. COVID-19/Flu combo tests will be vital to helping bring peace of mind and proper medical help to those in need.
To put a stop to the COVID-19 Delta Variant, it is essential that we each do our part to help protect one another. With increased testing options, vaccinations, and proper precautions, we can put a stop to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta Variant and return to a world that is free of dangerous disease for good!
To learn more about available COVID-19 tests, visit AnyPlaceMD online.