What to Know
- Delta variant shows "significantly increased transmissibility" compared to other COVID-19 variants.
- Vaccines do work against variants, though they may be less effective.
- CDC data shows delta variant now accounts for 3% of Texas cases and 10% of U.S. cases
As the number of people being vaccinated against COVID-19 in Dallas County slows down, a new variant, called delta, is becoming a cause for concern locally and nationwide.
According to The Dallas Morning News, data from UT Southwestern Medical Center shows the prevalence of the delta variant has more than doubled in samples from May 28 to June 3.
DallasNews reported Dr. James Cutrell, an infectious-disease expert at UTSW, said the delta variant is particularly concerning because it is highly transmissible — even more so than the alpha variant that is currently more common in North Texas.
“I predict that in the next two to four weeks, the delta variant will become the dominant one that we’re seeing here in North Texas,” Cutrell said.
Experts still advise those who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The good news, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, is that the vaccines currently being used in the United States are effective against the delta variant.
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On June 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed the classification for the delta variant from a variant of interest to a variant of concern -- those which are more easily transmitted and cause more severe illness including increases in hospitalizations or death.
Last week, the CDC said the delta variant now accounts for nearly 10% of new cases in the United States. According to CDC data, the delta variant (aka B.1.617.2) accounts for about 3% of new cases.
On Friday, the World Health Organization's chief scientist said the delta variant, which was first found in India and has since spread to more than 80 countries, is becoming the dominant strain of the disease worldwide.
When it comes to variant classifications, the CDC ranks them as variants of interest, variants of concern, and variants of high consequence. A variant of high consequence is one where there is clear evidence that prevention measures or medical countermeasures (like vaccines) have significantly reduced effectiveness relative to other variants.
As of the county's latest reporting Tuesday, there are 113 known cases of the alpha variant and seven of the delta variant. Two other variants, epsilon, and gamma have nine and 15 known cases, respectively.
Dallas County said Monday that over the past two weeks rates of new COVID-19 diagnoses, of all variants, in Balch Springs, Lancaster, Rowlett, Sachse, and Seagoville are 50% higher than countywide case rates. In Cedar Hill, they've been about 30% higher. The county also said 91% of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in June were among people who had not been fully vaccinated.