What we know about the delta variant of COVID-19

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 3:32 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 3:33 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The growing delta variant of COVID-19 is expected to become the dominant strain in Mississippi in the next few weeks, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says.

Mississippi State Department of Health reports 18 cases of the delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2.

But what do we know about this strain of the virus and how it spreads?

WLBT created this fact sheet with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep you in the know.

What is a COVID-19 variant?

The World Health Organization has renamed the multiple different strains or variants of COVID-19 circulating around the world to make them easier to understand. Under the changes, the four most concerning variants take on the first four letters of the Greek alphabet — alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected, the CDC says. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist.

Why is the delta variant a concern?

The CDC has classified the delta variant as a concern for these reasons:

  • Ability to spread more quickly in people
  • Ability to cause either milder or more severe disease in people
  • Ability to evade detection by specific viral diagnostic tests
  • Decreased susceptibility to therapeutic agents such as monoclonal antibodies
  • Ability to evade natural or vaccine-induced immunity

Where did the delta variant come from?

The CDC says it was detected in the United States in March 2021. It was initially identified in India in December 2020.

How are health officials monitoring it?

Scientists with MSDH and CDC are working on learning more about these variants to understand better how easily they might be transmitted and how effective vaccines are against them.

Variants of concern might require one or more public health actions, like notification to WHO under the International Health Regulations, reporting to CDC, local or regional efforts to control spread, increased testing, or research.

How does the CDC suggest I protect myself from any strain or variant of COVID-19?

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others
  • Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

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