Is the Us Winning the Race against the COVID-19 Delta Variant?

Caroline de Braganza

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Are we running out of time?Michal Jarmoluk/Pixabay

Florida is one of the worst affected states as cases climb.

Since the start of the pandemic, the clever and opportunistic SARS-CoV-2 virus, which we know as Covid-19, has mutated four times. First, we had Alpha from the UK, which became the dominant variant in the US and elsewhere, then Beta from South Africa and Gamma from Brazil, both of which remained somewhat localized.

But the Delta variant, first detected in India October last year, has spread to 85 countries and has become the dominant strain in the US and elsewhere. It is 30-60% more contagious than earlier versions and more easily transmissible.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says

“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

At least 99% of those who died of Covid in the US in the last six months had not been vaccinated.

On Monday, July 19, President Biden urged citizens to get vaccinated. Although the vaccines available are less effective against the Delta variant, they still prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. The variant now makes up 85% of cases in the US, up from 50% for the week of July 3.

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) reported 45,604 new cases for the week of July 9-15, double the number reported the preceding week. The state’s 11.5% positivity rate is alarming because only 57% of eligible Floridians have been vaccinated.

Health officials say 95% of Covid patients who have died in Orange County since Feb. 6 were unvaccinated. The Delta variant is highly contagious and we should regard it with extreme caution.

My sister who lives in Orlando, is fully vaccinated but says she always wears a mask in public to protect others who are not vaccinated, and children who are too young to be vaccinated.

She supports the science, as I do.

Even though the vaccine protects you from severe illness, you may unwittingly infect others as you could carry the virus with no symptoms.

On July 21, the American Hospital Association advised hospitals across the US to make vaccinations mandatory for health personnel. AdventHealth, where my sister works, is now considering this, and so is Orlando Health.

At AdventHealth, 95% of Covid inpatients are unvaccinated—the figure for Orlando Health is 90%.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have only received emergency authorisation by the FDA but promising signs are they will grant full approval by the fall.

“A Kaiser Family Foundation survey of US adults released this week found that among the one-third of adults surveyed who are not yet vaccinated, 16% said the vaccine was too new, too unknown or not tested enough.” CNN Health

Once these vaccines are licensed, hopefully vaccine hesitancy will decrease.

The facts speak for themselves.

Most Covid patients in hospital or who died were not vaccinated. The vaccine doesn’t offer 100% protect from your getting infected—no vaccine does. But it’s important to understand you won’t end up on a ventilator, by which time it’d be too late to get your vaccination.

Early June, Gov. deSantis stopped the daily detailed reporting on Covid and switched to a weekly report every Friday which provides less in-depth data and excludes non-residents.

Floridians deserve daily reports.

The US can win this race if every state runs on the same track.

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Published essayist. Follow me for local news that impacts our lives, plus stories on public and mental health. Through writing, I also share my passion for music, politics, our environment and social justice, and hope you find value in my words.

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