By Lalit K Jha :
THE highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is the “greatest threat” to America’s attempt to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s leading infectious disease expert and White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci has warned. The variant, which was first detected in India, is more contagious and causes more severe disease than other circulating variants, he said on Tuesday during a White House COVID-19 response team briefing. Fauci said the Delta variant now makes up more than 20 per cent of all new cases in the US, nearly doubling from nearly 10 per cent two weeks ago.
“Similar to the situation in the UK, the Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Fauci told reporters during a virtual news conference here. However, the “good news” is that the US vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, said Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). “Conclusion, we have the tools, so let’s use them and crush the outbreak,” he asserted. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deemed Delta a “variant of concern” last week.
The Delta variant recently became the dominant strain in the UK, surpassing the Alpha variant first discovered in the country. The strain makes up more than 90 per cent of new cases and delayed the UK’s scheduled reopening. The transmissibility of Delta variant is unquestionably greater than the wild type SARS-CoV2 as well as the Alpha variant, Fauci said, adding that it is associated with increased disease severity as reflected by hospitalisation risk compared to the Alpha variant.