A Lung Doctor Explains What People Need to Know About the Covid Delta Variant

Despite the efficient, widespread rollout of vaccines, the Delta variant of the coronavirus has led to spikes in the number of people testing positive for Covid. Across the pond, these growing numbers caused Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay the full lifting of restrictions in the United Kingdom. In a new video on his YouTube channel, pulmonary medicine specialist Dr. Mike Hansen explains how the Delta variant will likely affect the United States, where cases are also on the rise.

The question most people will be asking is: does the vaccine protect people from this new variant? Citing the figures coming out of the UK, Hansen confirms that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against the Delta variant, provided that the individual has had both shots.

As for people who are not vaccinated, Hansen points out that since the Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible than the alpha variant, their chances of getting Covid and suffering serious illness are increased. “You still have the usual risk factors for Covid; older age, male, Type A blood, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease,” he says. “Based on the limited data so far, this risk is only going up. The Delta variant in Scotland doubled the risk of hospitalization for those who contracted Covid.”

“The Delta variant is spreading faster in US counties where less than 30% of residents have been fully vaccinated, compared to higher vaccinated counties,” he adds. “If you look at the country as a whole, the Delta variant made up 10 percent of COVID cases, and as of the recording of this video, is already 21 percent. The numbers have been doubling about every two weeks, so it will likely become the dominant strain in a few weeks, especially now that we have lifted restrictions.”

Based on the prediction that the Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible, and using a model where 75 percent of the population is vaccinated, Hansen says there will be an average of 2,000 deaths per week during the fall and winter of this year. And vaccine hesitancy among certain communities definitely won’t help these odds.

However, he adds if the number of people getting the vaccine increases enough, the outcome may look very different:”If 86 percent of eligible Americans are vaccinated, that might avert over 10,000 deaths by the time you hit December.”

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