The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now labeled the Delta variant of the coronavirus a “variant of concern”. Also known as B.1.617.2, the Delta variant pertains to the one which was first identified in India and was previously considered by the CDC as a variant of interest. On May 10, the World Health Organization classified the Delta variant as a variant of concern.

The change of label with the CDC, officials say, is based on “mounting evidence” that the said variant showed that it spreads more easily and causes more severe cases.

According to CNN, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci encourages everyone to get their vaccinations done citing that the Delta variant is making its rounds in the United States at a rate that is similar to its dominance in the UK.

As of June 5, the CDC estimates that the Delta variant now accounts for 9.9% of cases in the US. Despite a notable decline of Covid-19 cases over the past few months due to the aggressive vaccine program, there is a cause for concern as the vaccinations start to slow down, and the Delta variant may increase its transmissibility.

The CDC also said that variants of concern may render vaccines, treatments less effective and may also cause tests to be less accurate in detecting the virus. 

The variant is believed to be responsible for the recent spike in cases in the UK with case study findings associating the variant with double the risk of hospitalization. The UK announced Monday that the easing of coronavirus restrictions would be delayed another four weeks, until July 19, following a rise in cases and, in particular, the growing spread of the Delta variant.

Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Insitute has been tracking variants throughout the pandemic and has expessed minimal optimism over the Delta variant. "It doubles every seven to 10 days, which means when it gets to three weeks from now, this variant will be dominant," he said.

"That means we have two to three weeks to just go flat out with vaccination to stop this trend. This is the most troubling variant by far, because it's another 60% more contagious than the Alpha, so it's a super spreader strain.”

The good news is that people who are fully vaccinated seem to have solid protection against the Delta variant. A published study indicated that a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine is not enough to provide protection from the Delta variant, however, the Pfizer-BioNTech jab is said to give a 79% protection. 

An analysis from England's public health agency also found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine seemed to be 96% effective against hospitalization for those infected with the Delta variant.

Dr. Peter Hotez, director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told CNN  that although he is "extremely worried" about the Delta variant, two doses of Pfizer or Moderna's Covid-19 vaccines appear to function "really well" in protecting individuals from it. 

coronavirus-4957673_960_720 Representation Image Man Coronavirus Mask enriquelopezgarre / Pixabay