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UVA infectious disease specialist weighs in on Delta variant

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - According to the Center for Disease Control, the Delta variant now account for more than 80% of new COVID-19 infections.

It is much more contagious than past variants, which is cause for concern among infectious disease experts like Dr. Patrick Jackson with the University of Virginia Health System.

“Unfortunately, the Delta wave has really reinforced that this virus is continuing to evolve,” Jackson said.

The CDC now recommends everyone mask up, regardless of vaccination status, in certain areas where the variant may be spreading more easily.

“The Delta variant seems to create larger amounts of virus in the upper airways in patients that it infects. That makes it more possible for people who have the Delta variant, to infect other people,” Jackson said. “And unfortunately, while vaccination is protective, is less protective against ongoing transmission than we were hoping, and that we’ve seen with the other variants.”

Jackson said this new variant is more vaccine resistant.

“It seems that the advent of the Delta variant means that effectiveness of the vaccines for preventing symptomatic disease at all is somewhat lower, still somewhat in the 80s, low 90s,” Jackson said. “You still get a lot of benefit from the vaccine, even in the face of Delta, even though it does seem for kind of those, on the less severe side of things, that the effectiveness of the vaccine is some what attenuated compared to the other variants.”

Jackson said the silver lining is that vaccines do prevent hospitalization and death, even with the variant.

“Cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 are clearly on the increase. Death attributed to COVID-19, we have not seen that uptick, and I’m really hopeful that that is a true phenomenon suggesting that we have successfully vaccinated most of our most vulnerable patients,” he said.

Jackson said the COVID-19 vaccine does prevent transmission, infection, and severe symptoms, citing the years of research that has gone into making it. He said getting people vaccinated is the only way forward.

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