Federal health officials are cautioning that the new Delta COVID-19 variant is likely to become the new dominant strain of the virus in the US, prompting new calls for Americans to get vaccinated.
Rochelle Walensky, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Friday, June 18 that the more transmissible Delta variant, known as B.1.617.2 has already become the dominant strain in the UK and is likely to follow suit in the US.
- Earlier story - COVID-19: Delta Variant's Symptoms Different, More Dangerous Than Original Virus, Doctors Say
“As worrisome as this Delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work," Walensky said. "Right now, they are working and they require actually two doses to be fully vaccinated, to work well.
“So I would encourage all Americans, get your first shot, and when you're due for your second, get your second shot and you'll be protected against this Delta variant.”
Officials have cautioned that the Delta variant is highly contagious, more deadly, and could potentially be more resistant to vaccines, which still remain the best defense, they cautioned.
“Vaccines are our only way out of this," vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
"Unless we vaccinate a significant percentage of the population before winter hits, you're going to see more spread and the creation of more variants, which will only make this task more difficult.”
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said that variants should not be a concern to those who are vaccinated, and that the emergence of the Delta strain and other variants provide extra incentive to get the vaccine.
“The combination of more transmissibility and greater severity of disease, appropriately, prompted the CDC to elevate it to a variant of concern,” he said this week.
“I'm not concerned about the people who are vaccinated. Because the good news about all this, among the seriousness of the situation with regards to the variant, is that the vaccines work really quite well.”
People who are vaccinated are protected, he noted, "which is another very good reason to encourage people strongly to get vaccinated because if you are not vaccinated, you are at risk of getting infected with a virus that now spreads more rapidly and gives more serious disease,"
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