How worried should we be about the Delta variant? University Health expert has answers to latest FAQs

COVID hospitalizations are almost exclusively unvaccinated people, official says

University Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bryan Alsip answers questions about the COVID-19 Delta Variant

SAN ANTONIO – The Delta variant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 and represents 83% of all cases in the U.S.

With the recent rise in the number of hospitalizations in San Antonio, coupled with a concern over the Delta variant, University Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bryan Alsip answered a series of frequently asked questions.

He notes that one of the concerns over the Delta variant is that it seems to be more transmissible which means it can spread more rapidly.

Wearing masks, social distancing, good hygiene and being in areas with good ventilation are all great options for helping reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to Alsip.

“But the most important thing that we can do to prevent infections is to become fully vaccinated,” he said.

Alsip said just one month ago the number of hospitalized patients in San Antonio was around 120 and that number has since ballooned to around 400.

“That’s a significant increase in a very short period of time,” he said.

The people who are being hospitalized, both locally and nationally, are almost exclusively unvaccinated, Alsip said.

One of the questions posed to Alsip was whether or not a vaccinated person who contracted COVID poses the same level of risk of spreading the virus to others as an unvaccinated person with COVID?

His response revealed good news - not just that the vaccines are proving to be very effective - “but there’s data to suggest that those who are vaccinated carry fewer viral particles in their respiratory tract, which makes them less likely to spread the disease to somebody else, even if they don’t have symptoms.”

While there have been “breakthrough infections” of COVID-19 among people who are vaccinated, Dr. Aslip said the vaccines are still “incredibly effective” at preventing the most serious COVID complications, including hospitalizations and deaths.

He said that while there’s still ongoing research about whether a particular vaccine offers superior protection against the Delta variant, the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all effective.

COVID-19 inpatient trends for San Antonio Healthcare Systems. (University Health)

“Children do not appear to be at more severe risk from Delta but they are at risk,” said Alsip. “Most concerningly, children under the age of 12 simply because they are not eligible to be vaccinated.”

Alsip noted that everyone responds differently to vaccines but the “single most important way to protect someone against infection” is to get vaccinated.

You can watch the full interview with Dr. Alsip in the video player at the top of this article.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.