Memphis health expert answers questions surrounding Delta variant

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — WREG sat down with a Memphis doctor to answers questions surrounding the highly transmissible Delta strain of COVID-19.

Just as mask mandates and health restrictions are eased, the Delta COVID-19 variant is ramping up across the Mid-South. 

Doctors are seeing a disturbing trend. At least 90 percent of the patients being treated in hospitals for COVID have not been vaccinated.

“So, it’s here and that is what is causing the surge of new cases that we are seeing,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Manoj Jain. “We are clearly seeing a lot of people being hospitalized more than we were over the past two or three weeks, and the majority of those are not vaccinated.”

Jain says the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do work against the Delta Variant, but one shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is not effective.

“We know all of the vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, not as effective as the original virus, but they are effective in the range of 65 to 85 to 95 percent range,” Jain said. “It’s really important people get the second dose. One dose of the vaccines are ineffective.”

Pfizer is also seeking FDA authorization for a third shot. Jain says not so fast.

“We will be looking at those who are immunocompromised getting the third shot, but for the general public we’re not there yet,” Jain said.

The Shelby County Health Department is also encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated to protect against the virus and variant.

“We are trying to encourage the best we can to send that message out. Get vaccinated. That’s our best line of defense,” said Shelby County Health Director Dr. LaSonya Hall.

As for returning to the days of wearing masks indoors again, Jain doesn’t rule out the possibility.

“But I tell you in areas that have low vaccination rates like the Mid-South, I am very concerned,” Jain said.

The Shelby County Health Department is offering back to school immunizations for children Saturday. The clinic is located at 814 Jefferson Avenue and is open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m..

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