WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky says she expects the delta variant will become the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States. The delta variant, first detected in India, has become dominant in Britain.
“As worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work,” Walensky told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday. She encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and “you’ll be protected against this delta variant.”
Walensky says next week an advisory committee will look at reports of heart inflammation among some 300 people under age 30 who received a coronavirus vaccine.
“Over 200 million doses of vaccine have been given, and really, these events are really quite rare,” said Walensky, adding heart issues generally improve with rest and standard medications.
The news comes just hours after Shelby County health officials expressed concern about the variant. To date, there have been 14 confirmed and 10 probable cases of the variant from four unrelated clusters. Health officials said they do not believe the variant has been contained and expect to see more clusters and cases in the coming days.
Based on the current models, more than 50 percent of the new cases in Shelby County could be from this variant by the end of July. By Labor Day, it could account for the vast majority, replacing the U.K. strain as the dominant variant.
“The Delta variant could certainly undo the progress we have already made. We’re concerned about that,” said David Sweat, deputy director of the Shelby County Health Department.
Health officials say so far, out of the more than 99,000 COVID cases in Shelby County, 73 were fully-vaccinated people. Thirteen of the 73 went to the hospital, but the majority had very mild symptoms.
The best way to protect against the variant is to get a COVID shot, which is believed to be 88 percent effective against it. Another option is to continue to take precautions like hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.