Covid-19 Delta variant is likely to become the dominant source of new infections in the US and could lead to new outbreaks by September, said Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration.
“Right now, in the United States, it’s about 10 per cent of infections. It’s doubling every two weeks,” Gottlieb was quoted as saying on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday.
“That doesn’t mean that we’re going to see a sharp uptick in infections, but it does mean that this is going to take over. And I think the risk is really to the fall that this could spike a new epidemic heading into the fall,” he added, saying that the unvaccinated Americans could be most at risk.
According to new data, Delta variant could become the dominant strain in the US in just one week, the Daily Mail reported.
“When will B.1.617.2 (Delta) be the dominant variant in the US? Could be next week (or next 2 weeks) based on trends in our testing data & sequences available,” researcher Alexandre Bolze tweeted last week. Delta now makes up about 10 per cent of US cases, up from just one per cent less than a month ago, he noted.
More than 6 per cent of the sequenced Covid-19 infections in the US trace to the highly transmissible Delta variant, US top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has warned last week.
The Delta variant (B16172) was first discovered in India and is one of three related strains. It was declared as variant of global concern last month by the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha strain identified in the UK and also reduces the effectiveness of vaccines to some extent, according to Public Health England (PHE).
However, Gottlieb said the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the US appear to be effective at containing the Delta variant, highlighting the importance of the public vaccination campaign.
“The mRNA vaccine seems to be highly effective, two doses of that vaccine against this variant. The viral vector vaccines from J&J and AstraZeneca also appear to be effective, about 60 per cent effective. The mRNA vaccines are about 88 per cent effective,” he said, referring to the vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.