Delta variant, first identified in India, now 'dominant' in US
The delta variant of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) -- or B.1.617.2 -- first seen in India, will soon end up being the most dominant strain of the virus in the United States, news agencies reported on Thursday morning, adding that the delta variant constitutes almost half of the total infections in the country right now.
The delta Covid-19 variant makes up 30% of the total number of samples sequenced for the virus in the US over a two-week period ending June 19, said Jude Fulce, spokesperson at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She told the Bloomberg news agency that this number is likely to be 52% now, which will be confirmed once the data for the two-week period ending July 3 comes in.
So far, the 'alpha' variant of Covid-19, first identified in the United Kingdom, had been dominant in the US. Now alpha cases constitute 28.7% of the total cases -- a declining trend -- while delta variant cases are on the rise.
The data is a result of a study conducted by the CDC in which the health agency estimated proportions of the most common SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating in the US on a bi-weekly basis. The virus sequences have been collected in the national genomic surveillance since December last year.
The US CDC categorised the delta Covid-19 variant as a 'variant of concern' last month, noting that the extent to which the strain has affected the country varies across regions. While the delta variant constitutes 30% of the total Covid-19 infections in the Pacific Northwest, it ranges to more than 80% of the cases in the Midwestern region of the country. However, the variant has been found in every US state, officials confirmed.
The delta variant of the coronavirus disease is believed to be more potent than the earlier strains of the virus, in the sense that it is more infectious and lethal, leaving the younger population especially vulnerable. It is rapidly spreading to most countries in the world, even as governments struggle with vaccination campaigns and debilitating infection trajectories.