A variant like Delta could be a cause of resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) later this year, experts said Tuesday.
“It looks like we do see a resurgence late in the summer, or in the early fall,” said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a CNN report.
First detected in India, the Delta variant of the coronavirus is already accounted for about one in every five coronavirus infections in the United States, health officials said on Tuesday.
“This is the most transmissible of all the variants that we’ve seen,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN Monday.
The Delta variant, formerly known as B.1.617.2, was believed to be more transmissible than both the contagious Alpha variant first detected in the United Kingdom and the original strain of the virus. It has also already spread across the United Kingdom.
“We saw what happened in the UK, where it overtook the entire nation. So I’m worried that’s going to happen in the US,” Hotez said.
Previous studies also showed those infected with the Delta variant could be more likely to be hospitalized. However, there is still no evidence that it is more deadly than the other variants.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that Delta will possibly become “the predominant variant in the months ahead.”
“The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate COVID-19,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the US’ leading infectious disease expert, said at a briefing on Tuesday.
“As of a couple of days ago, 20.6 percent of the isolates are Delta,” he added.
William Lee, vice president of science at Helix, said the Delta variant shows the need to get as many people vaccinated to reach herd immunity.
“It’s so transmissible that, unless your vaccination rates are high enough, you will still have outbreaks,” Lee told CNN.
According to the data by the World Health Organization as of June 16, the Delta variant has already been identified in more than 80 countries, including the Philippines.
As of June 21, a total of 17 Delta variant cases have so far been detected in the Philippines. Of this, one died, one is still ill, and 15 already recovered.
While the Philippines has not yet seen a community transmission of the Delta variant, the government continues to enforce testing and quarantine procedures for travelers arriving from abroad.