Health officials say the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge and accounts for an estimated 83 per cent of US COVID-19 cases. That's a dramatic increase from the week of July 3, when the variant accounted for about 50 per cent of genetically sequenced coronavirus cases.
“The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants is to prevent the spread of disease, and vaccination is the most powerful tool we have,” said Dr Rochelle Walensky, director if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a US Senate hearing Tuesday.
The highly contagious Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first detected in India in December and is spreading quickly across the globe. In some parts of America, the Delta strain accounts for more than 80 per cent of new infections, including some Midwestern states like Missouri, Kansas and Iowa.
Earlier this month, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that new Covid infections with the Delta variant account for 51.7 per cent of the infections in the US.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has said that even though the United States has seen a dramatic drop in the number of COVID-19 deaths due to its vaccination programme, the people must remain vigilant about the more virulent Delta variant that is spreading fast in the country. Stressing the need for people to get vaccinated, he said "virtually all" of the Covid deaths and hospitalisations in the country are among the unvaccinated.
In the last six months, they have come down by about 90 per cent due to the vaccination programme, he said.
"But we have to stay vigilant, especially with the Delta variant that's out there. While COVID-19 cases are rising, virtually all of the Covid deaths and hospitalisations are from unvaccinated people. Let me say it again: virtually all are from unvaccinated people," he said.
He said the safest thing to do for the people is to get vaccinated. And "that's why we're focusing, on our next phase, on getting the unvaccinated vaccinated," he added.
The White House has ramped up efforts to combat misinformation about the vaccines, especially in social media, and conduct more targeted outreach in communities across the country, including to young people. Experts believe the Delta variant could be the most dominant strain in the country in the coming weeks.
The US is still the world's most affected country by the deadly pandemic. The country has registered more than 34,174,700 confirmed cases and reported over 609,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker.
With PTI/AP Inputs