Updated: June 18, 2021 06:19 PM
Created: June 18, 2021 05:30 PM
(ABC 6 News) - We've seen a rise in COVID-19 variants over the last six months. The Delta variant that was first reported in India has now made its way across the world, with confirmed cases in both Iowa and Minnesota.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says around ten percent of new COVID-19 infections in the United States as a whole are now of this Delta variant. But health officials say, although these variants are concerning, the data regarding vaccines is promising in protecting you against these variants.
"The Delta cases that we have seen in Minnesota, about 19 percent have been hospitalized, which is higher than the hospitalization rate that we see in general associated with COVID," Kris Ehresmann, director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology for the Minnesota Department of Health, said.
Ehresmann says this variant is one of the smaller ones we have seen, representing less than one percent of all of the variants that we are seeing in Minnesota right now with a total of 47 cases so far.
"What's concerning about the variants is their increased transmissibility. They are more readily spread from person to person," Ehresmann said.
This means there's a greater opportunity for people to get sick.
"Some people estimate that it's 60 percent more transmissible than the original variant of the SARS-CoV-2," Dr. Ravi Vemuri, Infectious Disease Consultant at Mercy One in Des Moines, said.
Health experts are finding this variant to cause more severe disease, especially in younger people, even if you do not have any pre-existing health conditions.
"When we talk about how effective the vaccine is, it's not really an on/off switch. So in other words, if you've been vaccinated and you have protection from the vaccine and now you're introduced to the Delta variant, it wouldn't be a situation where now all of a sudden the vaccine just doesn't work for the variant but likely that it would be not as effective," Ehresmann said.
In Iowa, only 46 percent of people are fully vaccinated.
"We're kind of in a race with it. If we can just get everyone on the same page, people that are sitting on the fence to get off the fence and get vaccinated as quickly as possible, we could avoid another surge," Dr. Vemuri said.
Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri are grouped together into one region by the CDC and as of Friday, 7.3 percent of people with COVID-19 in this region have the Delta variant. There is no exact number of cases to report yet.
Dr. Vemuri says it's like a chess match with the variants.
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