COVID-19 Delta variant has been detected in all US states
The highly-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has now been detected in all the 50 states of America and capital Washington, DC, CNN reported. The latest state to report the strain is South Dakota, confirming its first case earlier this week. Delta, which has sparked fresh outbreaks in England and Australia, has increased pressure on authorities across the globe to pace up their vaccinations.
1 of 4 US cases caused by the Delta variant
The Delta variant is now the cause of one in every four infections in the United States, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19," Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, America's leading infectious disease expert, had recently said.
What is the Delta variant?
Delta, also known as B.1.617.2, is said to be the most infectious coronavirus variant identified yet. It was first detected in India last year and was behind the country's deadly second wave of the pandemic over the past few months. Some studies also suggest the variant may partially evade the antibodies generated by the body after prior infection or vaccination.
Dr. Fauci stresses on vaccination coverage
It is important for US states to vaccinate more and more people to avoid any potential outbreak of the Delta variant, Dr. Fauci said, according to CNN. He said the disparity between places with high and low vaccination rates in the US is "concerning." Notably, some US states have vaccinated over half their population while some others have vaccinated just around 30%.
'It's almost like it's going to be two Americas'
"When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among undervaccinated regions...you're going to see these individual types of blips (sic)," Dr. Fauci told CNN. "It's almost like it's going to be two Americas," he further warned.
But do vaccines offer protection against Delta variant?
Several vaccines have proven effective against emerging variants, including Delta. For instance, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 88% effective against symptomatic infection caused by the Delta variant, two weeks after the second dose. Moderna's vaccine has also been found effective against the strain. It was recently reported that COVAXIN, India's indigenous COVID-19 jab, also effectively neutralizes the Delta variant.
No mask guidance to stay in the US
Despite the spread of the Delta variant, mask policies are expected to remain the same in most parts of the US. The CDC had earlier this year said that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most outdoor and indoor settings. However, authorities in some cities, like Los Angeles, are urging vaccinated people to continue wearing face masks in indoor spaces.