Unless you have been completely enjoying your summer technology free (you clearly are not), you have heard about the delta variant that has become the dominant strain in the United States. This variant spreads quicker and hits harder than prior iterations of COVID-19. There are increasing reports that vaccinated individuals are contracting this variant as well which is leading to further concern. This includes members of the NY Yankees, and led to cancelation of a game this week as a result of multiple players contracting the virus. Granted, that may be to their advantage considering their play of late.
Studies are emerging demonstrating that serum from individuals who either recovered from COVID-19 or were previously vaccinated was less effective at neutralizing the delta variant. These studies are further stoking the fear that this variant could be of higher concern to all.
So before we go off the deep end with the delta variant, other data is quite reassuring at this time. For the month of May, there were 18,000 deaths in the United States attributed to COVID-19. Of these, 150 deaths were among individuals that were completely vaccinated. No, I did not forget a zero or two. 17,850 of the 18,000 deaths were unvaccinated individuals. Similar trends are being noted in hospitalized patients – there are very few vaccinated individuals among them. Unless these parameters start to reveal different data, while the delta variant may be more dangerous than others, this danger is only applicable if you have not yet taken the vaccine against COVID-19.
Another aside on folks messing with numbers…..it is being reported that younger folks are now making up a higher percentage of those ill and hospitalized. This is not shocking for a simple reason – they are the least likely to get vaccinated. The elders of this country took their shot, much like they took their polio shot as kids and said “thank you.” Since the vaccine has protected them, that only leaves young vulnerable people. And while the delta variant may be causing more morbidity among young people they have a simple solution, and that is to take the vaccine as well.
No, I am not kidding. And I hope that we won’t need to be talking more about this one in a few weeks. There is another new variant out there that is gaining some traction, and for which there are reports of immune system evasion. It is called the epsilon variant. The reports of immune system evasion are based on antibody studies, not real life situations and the significance at this time is unclear. Let’s collectively hope that the story ends similarly to the delta variant and that vaccinated individuals are able to successfully fight off this variant effectively as well.