Getting vaccinated would 'hang' the coronavirus, according to congressman 1:49
Around the world, there is an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, and health experts say a key factor in this latest wave is the highly contagious delta variant.
The variant is spreading about 55% faster than the alpha variant that was first identified in the UK late last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and it is spreading about 50% faster than the version that started infecting people in late 2019.
The delta variant is so contagious that those who have not been vaccinated are very likely to contract it, says expert
"We should think of the delta variant as the 2020 version of COVID-19 on steroids," Andy Slavitt, a former senior adviser to Joe Biden's coronavirus response team, told CNN last week.
Here's what you need to know about the variant, including why it's spreading so quickly.
Delta variant sends more young people to hospital in the US 0:36
It was first identified in India
The delta variant was first identified in India in December 2020.
It quickly became the dominant variant, overwhelming the country's healthcare system.
It was identified in the UK shortly thereafter.
"This is the most contagious version of the virus that we have seen during the entire pandemic," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University.
"It is really very contagious."
Now, it has spread to all 50 US states.
The first case in the United States was identified in March and, at the beginning of July, represented more than half of the cases analyzed in the country.
It now accounts for 83% of cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"This is a dramatic increase, compared to 50% for the week of July 3," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday at a Senate committee hearing.
A study estimates that 1.5 million children lost their parents or grandparents to covid-19
The delta variant has been found in all 50 US states.
That's behind an increase, mainly among unvaccinated people in the country - the average new daily cases this week increased 55% from last week, and cases increased in 46 states through Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Hospitalizations increased 52% in the past 14 days.
Biden warns unvaccinated about delta variant 1:51
The variant continues to spread rapidly
How is the virus spreading so quickly?
One study suggests that the delta variant can be transmitted faster than others because it makes more copies of itself within our bodies at a faster rate.
When scientists in China compared dozens of delta cases with variants from early in the pandemic, they found that patients with the delta variant had 1,260 times higher viral loads.
"There are so many more viruses around, people who are infected have such high viral loads, but even short periods of time - five minutes, seven minutes, you don't even have to be six feet [away]," Jha said.
"For people who are not vaccinated, they become infected with a much, much shorter exposure."
Vaccines available in the United States are proving effective against the delta variant.
Although there are new cases, people who are fully vaccinated rarely get seriously ill.
But less than half of the US population is fully vaccinated, according to CDC data, and the CDC is warning of an "unvaccinated pandemic."
"If you are not vaccinated, you are at great risk right now," said Dr. Vivek Murthy, US Health Director General "And you should take action if you are not vaccinated, such as wearing a mask, distancing yourself, avoiding indoor meetings ".
Currently more than 97% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated, Walensky said last week.
Why are the cases of covid-19 increasing so much in young people?
And 99.5% of deaths occur among the unvaccinated, Murthy said Sunday.
Getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible, Murthy said, "is our fastest and most effective way out of this pandemic."
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coronavirus Covid-19 Delta variant