Warning to virologists: The delta variant is forcing the situation upside down

According to interviews with ten prominent COVID-19 experts, the protection afforded by vaccines against the course of serious disease and hospitalization caused by any strain of coronavirus remains very strong, but some people at highest risk remain unvaccinated, writes reuters.com.

However, as the above-mentioned experts point out, there is growing evidence that the delta strain first detected in India is much more likely to infect people who have been fully vaccinated than previous strains of the virus. In addition, there is growing concern that even in the case of the delta strain, even vaccination can spread the virus.

For this reason, even in countries with intensive vaccination campaigns, masks, distance and other measures may be needed again, some experts believe.

Israel has recently and again introduced a requirement to wear a mask indoors and requires travelers to be quarantined upon arrival.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should once again wear masks indoors in regions of the United States where there is an increased risk of coronavirus infection.

This decision marks a significant change in the assessment of the situation as the country struggles to halt the faster spread of the pandemic coronavirus delta variant.

President Joe Biden said the report shows America needs to improve vaccination rates. He added that the possibility of requiring more than 2 million people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 was currently being considered. employees of the federal agencies of the country.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky said new data on disease outbreaks related to the coronavirus delta strain suggest that the risk of spreading the infection is increasing.

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“In areas where transmission is significant or high, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings,” she said.

“The biggest threat to the world right now is the delta,” said microbiologist Sharon Peacock, who is leading the UK’s genome sequencing studies to identify strains of coronavirus. The scientist calls the delta variety “the fastest spreading and the best adaptable so far”.

Viruses are constantly evolving by mutating, giving rise to new strains. Sometimes they can be more dangerous than the original version of the virus.

The biggest concern with the delta strain is not because it is more difficult to get sick, but because it is spreading incomparably faster and thus the number of infected and hospitalized unvaccinated people is increasing.

The Public Health England agency on Friday reported that out of a total of 3,692 people treated in the UK for hospitals infected with the delta strain, 58.3 per cent. are unvaccinated and 22.8 percent. – fully vaccinated.

In Singapore, where the delta is the most commonly found strain, government officials said Friday that three-quarters of all coronavirus cases in the country have been recorded in vaccinated individuals, but none of them are seriously ill.

Israeli health officials reported that 60 percent. people in the hospital are now being vaccinated against COVID-19. Most of them are 60 years of age or older and often have concomitant health problems.

In the United States, where COVID-19 cases and deaths are higher than in any other country, the delta strain accounts for approximately 83 percent. all new cases. So far, almost 97 percent. severe cases consist of unvaccinated people.

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Doctor of Medicine Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, says many vaccinated people are “very disappointed” that they are not 100 percent. protect even from a mild form of the disease. However, the fact that almost all Americans are currently unvaccinated due to COVID-19 is evidence of “truly astounding effectiveness,” Gandhi explains.

Lesson given

“There is always the illusion that a miraculous solution can be found that will overcome all our problems. But the coronavirus teaches us a lesson, ”said Nadav Davidovitch, head of the Ben-Gurion University School of Public Health in Israel.

The Pfizer Inc / BioNTech vaccine, one of the most effective vaccines against COVID-19 to date, has been shown to be only 41 percent effective in stopping symptomatic cases in Israel over the past month, according to Israeli government data. According to Israeli experts, this information needs to be analyzed in more detail in order to draw conclusions.

“Personal protection is very strong, but protection against infecting others is significantly lower,” Davidovitch said.
A study in China found that a delta strain of infected people has a thousand times more virus particles in their nose than those infected with the original version of the virus, first detected in Wuhan in 2019.

“It simply came to our notice then. This is why this variety is more contagious. This is still being investigated, ”explains Sh. Peacock.

Shane Crotty, a virologist at the San Diego Institute of Immunology in San Diego, points out that the delta strain is 50 percent. more contagious than the alpha strain first identified in the UK.

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“It outperforms all other strains of the virus because it simply spreads much more efficiently,” notes Sh. Crotty.

Genomics expert Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Choja, California, points out that infected delta strains have a shorter incubation period and significantly higher viral load.

“That’s why vaccines face challenges. Vaccinated individuals should also be careful. It’s really complicated, “says E. Topolas.

In the United States, the delta variety became established at a time when most Americans, both vaccinated and non-vaccinated, stopped wearing masks indoors.

“This is a double blow,” E. Topolas no longer doubts. “When faced with the most threatening strain of the virus to date, there is the least desire to ease restrictions.”

The emergence of highly effective vaccines seems to have led many people to believe that COVID-19 is almost non-existent.

“Initially, when vaccines were developed, no one thought they would help prevent infection. Their goal has always been to prevent severe disease and death, ”recalls Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases and epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta.

However, the vaccines have been shown to be so effective that there are signs that they also prevent the spread of previous strains of coronavirus.

“We’re spoiling,” concludes C. del Rio.

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