Top infectious disease specialists say the spread of the Delta variant over unvaccinated parts of the country is causing flares and spikes in hospital admissions as cases rise.
The number of cases is on the rise again nationwide, as the highly transferable variant prevails as the dominant burden in the USA.The seven-day average of the newly confirmed Covid cases has risen to around 23,300 per day, almost twice as high as the average a week ago . according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Health officials and doctors have hoped that high vaccination rates among the most vulnerable and oldest Americans would also prevent hospitalizations, which are generally delayed by a few weeks. But that hasn’t happened before, doctors said in a call hosted Tuesday by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
“Hospital admissions and ICU deaths are all lagging behind (new cases), so we expect these to get worse, much worse, over the next two to three weeks,” Dr. Andrew T. Pavia, director of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said on the call.
After several weeks of declining infections, cases are rising again in many parts of the country, said Dr. Jay Butler, associate director of infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on the conference call. “Unfortunately, this has also been accompanied by an increase in hospital admissions and emergency room reviews for people who have ultimately been confirmed to have Covid-19,” he said.
Hospital stays are on the rise again as the Delta variant spreads among the unvaccinated, doctors say doctors
Since the Delta variant is spreading in the US, it hits states with low vaccination rates particularly hard. First discovered in India in October, the variant quickly spreads to more than 100 countries around the world and has established itself as the dominant variety in America in just a few weeks.
“When the Delta strain emerged, it quickly became the dominant strain. … In the last full week of data, more than 80% of the viruses sequenced were Delta viruses, and this week 92% of all variants” (in Utah) said Pavia. “When you think about what it means for a virus to spread so quickly, it means that it is the most suitable virus that spreads more efficiently, that it spreads in unvaccinated pockets, causing a lot of disease and a lot of stress . “
In Missouri, Arkansas, Nevada, Utah, and Florida, cases have risen faster than any other state in the past few weeks. New infections and hospital admissions are highest in rural areas, where vaccination rates are low, Pavia said. “That’s what drives outbreak vulnerability.”
In Utah, infection rates are highest among young people ages 15 to 45, and hospital admissions are similarly higher in these younger age groups than they were earlier in the pandemic, he said.
About 80% of Americans over 65, the most vulnerable population group, are fully vaccinated, which helps reduce hospital costs. Scientists have yet to figure out whether or not the Delta variant makes people sicker than the original ancestral tribe.
US health officials and doctors still disagree on whether or not a booster vaccination will be required in the fall or winter.
“We don’t see any evidence at this point that people who were vaccinated last December or January have declining immunity and are at greater risk of breakthrough infections,” said Butler, of the CDC.
Based on statements made by World Health Organization officials Monday, Butler also said that breakthrough cases are often milder and that vaccines are extremely effective at reducing hospital stays and deaths.
“There’s even evidence that people with breakthrough infections who are fully immunized shed fewer viruses … this may reduce the risk of spreading it to others,” Butler said.
The WHO recently recommended that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people continue to wear masks and practice social distancing, citing the reduced effectiveness of the vaccine against the Delta variant and increased social mixing in countries with different vaccination rates.
“Everyone wants this to be over, and a lot of the behavior that I think is driving the spread of infection is people wanting it to be over and pretending it’s over and even that give up more modest precautions such as wearing masks. “Said Pavia.