Charleston, SC

Infectious disease expert predicts Delta will be the dominant COVID strain in SC in the next four weeks

Libby-Jane Charleston

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Most deaths are now among unvaccinated peopleLive5 News

The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control claims more than 90 percent of Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations in the state, within a two-week period, were among unvaccinated people,

DHEC leaders say with less than 45 percent of all South Carolinians fully vaccinated, there is a major worry that hospitalizations will increase again soon.

Infectious disease researcher Dr. Helmut Albrecht, chair of the Prisma Health-UofSC Medical group department of medicine, told Live5 News virus mutations could also increase the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr. Albrecht is closely watching a potential surge in cases caused by the Delta variant.

Due to the spread of Delta doubling around every two weeks Dr. Albrecht estimates in four weeks time it will be the most common strain of COVID-19 in South Carolina.

“This is a real threat for a large number of unvaccinated people in our state,” Dr. Albrecht says, referring to the Delta strain.

Dr Albrecht explained that Delta is like a “best of” variant; it includes some of the most dangerous COVID-19 mutations that have emerged over the last year and a half and combines them into a dangerous cocktail.

However, he said not only is Delta able to spread quickly, but the latest research shows it could be making infected people sicker than the original strain has done.

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More than 90 percent of hospitalizations and deaths involved people who had not been fully vaccinated@Live5 News

"We are seeing disturbingly young people in the hospital, we are seeing pregnant women in the hospital who could’ve protected themselves but also their unborn baby who isn’t vaccinated and getting severely, severely ill,” he told Live5 News.

DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Brannon Traxler has warned that while all COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. protect against Delta, someone needs to be fully vaccinated for that protection to be significant.

“There are some studies that show that only having one of the two doses with Pfizer or Moderna may not be really protected,” Traxler said.

However, according to DHEC, 57 percent of South Carolinians are not fully vaccinated.

While Dr. Albrecht claims the Delta variant is a combination of some of the most harmful COVID-19 mutations, the Delta Plus or AY.2 variant could be more dangerous in the long run.

“AY.2 adds two mutations that are both not making the virus more infectious, but make it get around vaccines and previous infection immunity better,” Albrecht explained. “The AY.2, or Delta Plus variant, probably only needs to pick up on or two more mutations...I think to really make a problem for the vaccine.”

However, if people start getting vaccinated rolling up their sleeves at a faster rate, Albrecht is hopeful that not only will fewer people get severely ill from COVID-19, but the chances of the virus mutating to a point that it is immune to the vaccines decreases.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The review studied new cases, new hospitalizations and new deaths reported during the two-week period and examined the cases for which researchers were able to determine the patients’ vaccination status. Data revealed:

  • 94% of the 1,635 new cases (1,540 cases) were in those not fully vaccinated.
  • 90.2% of the 92 new hospitalizations (83 cases) involved patients who were not fully vaccinated
  • 100% of the new deaths (all 11 of them) reported were in patients who were not fully vaccinated

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I'm a journalist and author writing across a wide range of topics, including tech, travel, history, business/startups, relationships, beauty & fashion, British royal history, & local stories concerning Charleston, S.C (where I have a long family history on my father's side: hence my surname! ) Former HuffPost Assoc Ed, ABC TV, ATV Beijing correspondent and many more. Author of "Fatal Females." Mother of three boys: I will love them until the Statue of Liberty sits down.

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