If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States right now, it’s almost certainly caused by the Delta variant.
The highly transmissible variant, which caused crippling surges in India and Britain this past spring and fueled case spikes in the United States this summer, is now responsible for over 99% of all cases tracked in this country, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s not unexpected, because it’s more transmissible, but it is also a strong reminder that we need to have continuous vigilance,” Dr. Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at George Mason University in Virginia, told The New York Times.
Back in June, the Delta variant caused a little more than 25% of COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC’s national genomic surveillance efforts.
Now, a particular Delta lineage is to blame for 99.4% among variants of concern. Other Delta lineages are responsible for much smaller percentages (0.2% and 0.1%).
Popescu said COVID-19 remains a serious public health threat. She advised getting vaccinated and wearing masks.
“The biggest piece is, ‘Don’t let your guard down.’ We need continuous surveillance, genomic sequencing, access to testing and public health interventions,” Popescu said, according to the Times.
“We have transmission occurring with very limited exposure and that means that, for example, times without a mask, when you are out and around others, become much more of a risk,” she added.
The United States has seen a rise in hospitalizations despite the availability of vaccines, which some Americans have resisted. The Delta variant is driving the increase in hospitalizations, the Times reported.
“We’re seeing more children in the hospital now because the Delta variant is more readily transmissible among everybody, adults and children,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, said recently.