The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it now considers the Delta variant, which was first identified in India as a "variant of concern." Previously, the CDC had considered the mutated strain to be a "variant of interest." The new variant currently accounts for 10% of the cases in the United States.
The Delta variant is the sixth one that CDC considers a variant of concern, joining strains identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, California, Japan, and Brazil.
The agency defines a variant of concern as "a variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures."
The new variant could become the dominant strain in the United States by the fall and could spread amongst people who are not fully vaccinated.
"I have to believe this, with this new Delta variant, the same thing is going to happen again with anyone who's either unvaccinated or only a single dose of vaccine," Dr. Peter Hotez, director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told CNN. "And so this is the time for everyone to get vaccinated because even if you want to get yourself vaccinated tomorrow or your adolescent child tomorrow, it's still going to take five to six weeks to get both of those doses of vaccine and then another week after that."
A new report from Public Health England shows that two doses of coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca are effective at preventing serious infections from the Delta variant.