COVID-19: Delta Variant Could Cause More Changes


Last updated 7/6/2021 at 9:15am

A whole different summer...

This time last year, many were figuring out how to enjoy the summer months in a safe manner, but also wondering when things will reopen and if or when normalcy will kick in. This time around, things are back open, testing continues and vaccinations are being administered. However, the new delta variant is causing questions as to if things will change or revert backwards.

Los Angeles County has recently changed its mask guidance due to the delta variant, which was first identified in India. The guidance recommended people wear masks indoors in public places regardless of their vaccination status, citing the pace of the spread of the variant.

Many are now wondering if San Diego County will follow and strongly recommend the change in the mask guidance.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the CDC is leaving it up to local officials to set guidelines for mask-wearing as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus surges in areas with low vaccination rates. The comments come a day after Los Angeles announced the change in guidance.

“We’ve always said that local policymakers need to make policies for their local environment,” she said, but added CDC guidelines broadly indicate those who are vaccinated don’t need to wear masks.

“Those masking policies are not to protect the vaccinated, they’re to protect the unvaccinated. If you are vaccinated, you are safe from the variants that are circulating here in the United States.”

Guidance is needed until health officials can “better understand how and to who the delta variant is spreading,” the county’s department of public health said.

Separately, the World Health Organization has reiterated its longstanding recommendation that everyone wear masks, and is also urging vaccinated people to wear masks as cases of the delta variant spike worldwide.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the lack of vaccines in poor countries was exacerbating the delta variant’s transmission.

Delta, now in at least 92 countries, including the United States, is expected to become the dominant variant of the disease worldwide, according to the WHO. In the U.S., the prevalence of the strain is doubling about every two weeks.

Vaccinated people are still protected from this variant because the vaccine stamps out the coronavirus in a number of ways. But there doesn’t seem to be a complete blockage of transmission. In other words, a vaccinated person may be able to spread the Delta variant, even if they are not showing symptoms.

And because of the differences present in Delta-plus, unvaccinated people with “natural immunity” who have been infected with COVID in the past should not rely on prior infection to protect against this variant, according to experts who study the variants.

The U.S. is “never going to have zero” new daily COVID cases, Dr. Scott Gottlieb said.

“We’re always going to have some level of spread,” the former FDA chief said, predicting infections will become endemic, meaning they will remain present in the American population. Seasonal flu, for example, is an endemic respiratory illness.

Gottlieb’s comments come as concerns increase about the COVID delta variant, now wreaking havoc in the U.K. It’s starting to circulate in the U.S., threatening to cut into the nation’s hard-earned progress in reducing virus prevalence through mass vaccinations and other public health strategies.

Moderna also announced that its COVID-19 vaccine showed promise in a lab setting against coronavirus variants, including the highly contagious delta variant first identified in India.

The two-dose mRNA vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies against delta as well as beta and eta, variants first found in South Africa and Nigeria, respectively, according to Moderna.

The company said the results were based on the blood serum of eight participants one week after they received the second dose of the vaccine. The data hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed. The results, while promising, may not reflect how the vaccines actually perform in real-world scenarios against the variants. Moderna’s update comes days after World Health Organization officials urged fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks, social distance and practice other pandemic safety measures as delta spreads rapidly across the globe.

Let us keep doing our part, and staying safe!

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