SAN ANTONIO – Despite the loosening restrictions, the COVID-19 pandemic is still far from over, especially with the Delta variant causing an uptick in cases and hospitalizations across the globe.
This new strain of COVID-19 is deemed more transmissible and could be more dangerous, the Associated Press reports.
And with the holiday weekend of July 4th in full swing, a lot of people will be celebrating with friends, family and in public gatherings.
Dr. Jason Bowling, with University Health, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss the Delta variant and how effective the COVID-19 vaccines are proving to be against it.
“Variants are different strains of the virus that causes COVID-19. And the World Health Organization is using Greek letters for these variants or strains that are particularly important as this virus passes from person to person. As we have more cases, the virus can get mutations. Most of them don’t cause any problems, but mutations that can make it more transmissible, cause more severe disease, or decrease our ability of our vaccines or treatments to work gets labeled a variant. A concern in the Delta is the variant that is the most transmissible at this point. It started in India, but it spread rapidly across the globe and it’s increasing rapidly here in the United States,” Dr. Bowling said.
But if you get sick, you may not know for sure if it is the Delta Variant or a different strain without a specialized lab test, according to Dr. Bowling.
“So clinically, when someone presents with symptoms, you can’t tell the difference or require a specialized lab testing. Fortunately, UT Health San Antonio is working with University Health to sequence isolates that require specialized lab testing beyond the usual diagnostic testing. And we see that we have just under 17% of the isolates that were sampled here in San Antonio or that Delta variant, which is close to what we’re seeing nationally, around 20 to 25%. So we do see it here in San Antonio and it’s increasing rapidly among the other strains here in San Antonio as well,” Dr. Bowling said.
There is good news: the vaccinations appear to protect you from the Delta variant.
“So if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re still safe. The good news is there’s data on all the vaccines that are available in the United States, the Pfizer, the Moderna, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They all protect against severe disease and hospitalizations. We have great data on the Pfizer vaccine from United Kingdom, where the Delta area comprises 95% of their isolates and it’s 96% effective in protecting against severe disease and hospitalization. So our vaccines, fortunately, the good news for the Fourth of July is that vaccines work,” Dr. Bowling said.
And if you are out and about this weekend, and are not fully vaccinated, make sure to be safe!
“This Delta variant we’ve seen is so transmissible that it can infect people that are partially vaccinated, but particularly people that are unvaccinated, even if they’ve had infection before. So if you’re not fully vaccinated, you should really consider being cautious around large gatherings and consider wearing a mask to protect yourself and others,” Dr. Bowling said.
You can watch the full interview with Dr. Bowling in the video player above.