Healthbeat: Dangers the delta variant poses to those unvaccinated


WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — The CDC says the delta variant of COVID-19 is now the most dominant of new COVID infections in the U.S. It is to blame for 51% of the latest infections nationwide. Some Midwest states are seeing more than 80% of new infections attributed to the delta variant.

That data is taken from a two-week period ending July 3rd. The question reporter Mark Hiller posed to a Geisinger infectious disease specialist: What can be done to prevent getting infected by the delta variant if you were vaccinated?

What’s making people sick a year-and-a-half into the coronavirus crisis? The CDC says it’s the delta variant which spread from India into more than 100 other countries. The CDC blames 51.7% of recent new infections on this variant from the original COVID-19 spike proteins that bind to cells and the respiratory tract.

“And it’s something about those changes with certain mutations there that allow it to just kind of stick and spread much more quickly and easily maybe than some other variants,” said Dr. Stan Martin, director of infectious diseases at Geisinger.

The World Health Organization says the delta variant is estimated to be about 55% more contagious than the alpha variant — the previous dominant variant which formed earlier this year in the UK. But can it make you sicker? Dr. Martin discussed with us one study that came from Scotland.

“There seemed to be a higher rate of hospitalizations in patients who were infected with the delta variant compared to patients that had the earlier UK variant,” Dr. Martin said.

More than 60% of adults in Pennsylvania are fully vaccinated against COVID but even county to county, the rates are inconsistent. Through last week, Lackawanna has more than 61.8% vaccinated, Susquehanna County has just 36.5%.

“And when you don’t have enough immunity in the population we see that the virus continues to just replicate and persist. And when that happens, mutations are naturally going to arise,” Dr. Martin explained.

For Jim Wisekal of Browndale, the reason he got vaccinated was travel.

“and if I have to travel and I don’t want them to say well you can’t fly. I have kids all over the country,” he told us.

Whatever the reason, Dr. Martin urges you to get fully vaccinated if you still haven’t.

“Being fully vaccinated will protect you against these variants.”

Dr. Martin says it’s likely the delta variant has already surfaced in northeastern and central Pennsylvania.
He urges more of us, especially children and young adults get vaccinated — and even if you have, take those safe practice precautions when in crowded spaces.

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