Delta variant is California’s most dominant coronavirus strain – .

Delta variant is California’s most dominant coronavirus strain – .

The infectious Delta variant has become California’s most identified strain of coronavirus, a troubling development that underscores the strain’s danger to unvaccinated populations.
New data released by the California Department of Public Health now indicates that 35.6% of the coronavirus variants analyzed so far in June have been identified as the Delta variant, which was first identified in India. This is a dramatic relative increase from May, when the Delta variant only made up 5.6% of coronavirus cases analyzed in California, and Delta was the state’s fourth most identified variant.

The latest figures were enough to dethrone the previous dominant variant, Alpha, which was first identified in the UK and now includes 34.3% of the coronavirus cases analyzed in June.

Alpha was California’s most dominant variant for just two months – in April and May. The main state variant before that was the California variant, which is now also known as Epsilon, but now comprises less than 2% of the cases analyzed.

The Delta variant could be twice as contagious as the initial variants of the coronavirus that spread rapidly around the world last year.

“The rapid increase in the Delta variant suggests that this strain spreads more easily between people than other strains circulating in California,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

“Nonetheless, there is evidence that vaccines available in the United States are effective against the Delta variant,” state officials added.

The Delta variant is also spreading rapidly across the country. The director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Rochelle Walensky, said recent data shows that 25% of coronavirus cases analyzed nationwide are of the Delta variant. In some regions of the country, almost half of the cases analyzed are of the Delta variant.

In contrast, from May 9 to 22, the Delta variant represented less than 3% of coronavirus samples analyzed nationally.

There is also a rapid increase in reports of confirmed Delta variant cases in Los Angeles County.

LA County began to see increases in the Delta variant in early April. In May, the county had fewer than 20 identified cases per week, but by June there were 60 to 80.

For the week ending June 19, Delta accounted for nearly 50% of all cases analyzed in LA County; four weeks earlier it was less than 5%.

Delta has so far been identified in 245 coronavirus cases in LA County, the first geographic clusters of which have been identified in Palmdale and Lancaster. Fourteen cases of the Delta variant were among residents of the same household.

The relative increase in the proportion of identified Delta cases comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide and LA County have started to increase.

The number of Californians hospitalized for COVID-19 fell to a low of 915 on June 12 – the smallest number since the state began regularly tracking hospitalizations for COVID-19. But on Wednesday, 1,090 people were hospitalized statewide with such infections, a 16% increase, before dropping Thursday to 1,071.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in LA County hit a record 212 on June 12. But as of Thursday, there were 275 hospital patients – a 30% increase, although still well below the peak of 8,098 during the worst days of the pandemic.

State officials say they don’t expect California hospitals to be inundated with COVID-19 patients again – there are simply too many people vaccinated to imagine such a scenario.

But officials noted that it remains crucial that more Californians get vaccinated.

“We know that our hospitalizations are increasing and that most patients are not vaccinated. We also know the science is clear: getting the vaccine protects you AND those around you. To get vaccinated, ” tweeted Governor Gavin Newsom.

His comments echoed those given by Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, recently at a press briefing.

Fauci recently highlighted recent studies showing that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic Delta variant disease and 96% effective against hospitalization after two doses. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet approved for use in the United States but which uses technology similar to that used in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, has been shown to be 92% effective against hospitalization.

“The best way to protect yourself against the virus and its variants is to be fully immunized. It works, ”Fauci said.

Some officials, however, said the science was not established that some vaccinated people might be at a higher risk of contracting the Delta variant and – without becoming seriously ill – of passing the virus on to other people.

This was the rationale behind the LA County Public Health Department’s latest recommendation that even fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks in indoor public places until more definitive information emerges on the Delta variant. .

LA County officials have expressed concern over the recent doubling of new coronavirus cases in the past seven days compared to the previous week. From June 25 to July 1, LA County reported about 2,600 new cases of coronavirus, more than double the sum of over 1,100 cases the week before.

“Anytime you see a doubling of cases in a very short period of time, we all need to pay attention to it and we all need to think about what else we could do that could help us reduce the spread,” the county said. of the. Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer.

Ferrer agrees that fully vaccinated people are extraordinarily protected against serious illness and death from COVID-19, including the Delta variant. But, she added, “the big unknown is this: can you get infected – have mild illness – and go ahead and pass that infection on to others” even if you are fully vaccinated?

Until more information is available on this, Ferrer has asked LA County residents to put on a mask when traveling to an indoor environment where you don’t know everyone’s immunization status. “If wearing a mask indoors provides that extra layer of protection, I think it’s worth it as we get more responses about the variant and get more people vaccinated. “

Besides LA County health officials, other authorities who have also suggested that even vaccinated people still wear masks include Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Government of Israel, World Health Organization. health and local health officials in the St. Louis area.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has continued to say that fully vaccinated people do not need to mask themselves, due to the extraordinary protection offered by vaccines licensed in the United States.

“If you are vaccinated you have a high degree of protection, so you don’t need to wear a mask, either indoors or outdoors,” Fauci said.

He also added that local authorities are free to make their own recommendations or requirements based on regional conditions.

California officials and other local health agencies statewide continued to align with CDC guidelines on masking recommendations.


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