Many are concerned about the impact of the Delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The two important questions are:
(1) Is the variant more contagious (meaning that it can infect a person more easily)?
(2) Does it cause a more severe infection?
When a variant appears and is more contagious, more people get the disease. In this case, most of the people getting infected are not vaccinated. Overall, as we all try to learn more about the COVID-19 situation, it is important to look at data and science rather than opinion.
Delta appears to be more contagious, but not more dangerous
The messages about the Delta variant are very mixed. The expert view, based on data from other countries, is that although this variant is more contagious, there is not convincing data to suggest that it causes greater harm, especially to vaccinated people and children. Currently, the advice for parents is not to change their current approach to COVID-19. If Delta causes a more severe illness, you expect to see more people being admitted to hospital. However, in the United Kingdom where the Delta variant is very common, rates of hospital admission remain much lower than earlier in the year. This is because vaccination rates in the U.K. are high – much higher than in the United States.
Vaccination is key
Delta is “creating a huge amount of noise,” but “it is not the right time to ring alarm bells.” We know that there are and will be more deaths and more hospitalizations than earlier virus versions. Also, there will be more “breakthrough infections” which is when a person gets COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. But all of that can be explained by its very high rate of transmission, especially for people lacking an immune response (those who are unvaccinated or have not had a COVID infection previously). However, this does not mean that the virus is more deadly. All forms of the virus that causes COVID can cause serious disease. The most important prevention is for everyone to get vaccinated.