The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is the “greatest threat” to America’s attempt to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic, White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci has warned.
Speaking at a White House briefing on COVID-19 on Tuesday as reported by PTI , Fauci said the variant, which was first identified in India, now makes up more than 20 per cent of all new cases in the US, a significant increase from nearly 10 per cent two weeks ago.
“Similar to the situation in the UK, the Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Fauci told reporters during a virtual news conference.
However, the “good news” is that the US vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, said Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Conclusion, we have the tools, so let’s use them and crush the outbreak,” he asserted.
The Delta variant recently became the dominant strain in the UK, surpassing the Alpha variant first discovered in the country.
The strain makes up more than 90 per cent of new cases and delayed the UK’s scheduled reopening.
The transmissibility of Delta variant is unquestionably greater than the wild type SARS-CoV2 as well as the Alpha variant, Fauci said, adding that it is associated with increased disease severity as reflected by hospitalisation risk compared to the Alpha variant.
The Imperial College of London did a study in over 100,000 homes and found that youth were driving the UK’s surge with a five-fold higher positivity among children aged 5-12 and young adults 18-24 years versus people older than 65 years old, he said.